How our school developed an international approach to learning
Tell us a bit about your school and the multicultural mix of students that you have.
It’s situated in Bournemouth and is in one of the areas of high deprivation where we have a lot of settled migrant communities. There is a massive hike in the demographic happening in primary schools at the moment, that will come through into secondary schools in 2017, and that is mostly because of migrant births. So it’s a real multicultural mix in the town, and the school reflects that. We have more than 22 different languages spoken at the school. So, the need for global awareness is something that’s community based and we’ve done a lot within the school to promote an awareness of that.
We were a business and enterprise college when they had the specialist schools concept. I never really took to the idea of children becoming hungry voracious business individuals, so I always emphasised enterprise and, in particular, social enterprise with them. So we focused on profit making to improve their community and enhance their social and intellectual capital. That’s something that we’re all committed too.
Our mission statement, which was developed in association with the community and the children, has an element in it where the children came up with the wording, that they want to be known as global citizens who are «confident, compassionate and courageous individuals». And they came up with those words, so I’m very proud that our mission statement is something that our students live and breathe.
If you’re anticipating an diverse intake of students in 2017, how are you working with primaries to help prepare students for secondary school? (alhudainternationalschool)
We’ve developed a school within the school for EAL teaching — although we don’t call it EAL, even though that’s the acronym used in education, we use ‘developing bilingual learners’ (DBL), that’s the phrase that we used with the British Council when we were doing our first tranche of work with them.
It’s very much about ensuring that we’ve got the right set up, we don’t just have immersive language teaching, we do family learning and will run language classes for families after school hours and children will come to that with their parents. We have a quite strategic approach to the development of language with our young people, we will withdraw them from parts of the curriculum where there is a need to have a very adept ability with the indigenous language and work on that concept with them. And we’ve had some terrific results with our EAL youngsters, which are above the schools results and we’ve had other schools in the borough sending their children to us. We’re developing something that is responsive to the borough’s needs. We’re an international school and we’re part of a multi-academy trust now.
Can you talk about how your school has adapted to a more multicultural student body?
We have adapted our curriculum, in order to respond to our multicultural classrooms and we have put in an element of the curriculum called world literacy. In year 7 and 8, the foundation years of the school, the students, for a period a fortnight, will go to their world literacy teacher. It’s about learning about other cultures, languages and about developing mindsets that make them curious about the world they live in and its citizens. We want them to be open enough and courteous enough to respect difference.
It’s very anti-racist and a very knowledge-based programme. That was a challenge really, because we had a community which suddenly had a very multicultural element that was growing and becoming more diverse. We’re not the only coastal city that has this issue, Southampton does too, many coastal cities have that, but we felt very much that we wanted to develop a particular ethos which complemented our community.
The challenge for the teacher in the classroom is that sometimes they might have a youngster that has very little English coming into their class and they have to make sure their resources are differentiated enough. Now, the Regio project has made that happen because we’ve got a lot of resources now that are in different languages, but equally you will need to make sure there is support. We use IT a lot, and we encourage our teachers to diversify in that way. So, for example, if they’ve got a PowerPoint, and a child that is an Arabic speaker in that class, they will have completed a translation to have that Powerpoint available for that youngster so they can access it. Access and equity are two of our mantra words as well and we keep those at the heart of everything we do, making sure all children have access to the same learning opportunities and that it’s equitable across the piece, so that no-one is left behind.
The benefits by far outweigh the challenges, the global friendships that are taking place are magnificent. We have children that Skype regularly with children in China; they have completed global projects together, we have a garden of reflection that students worked on with children from Saudi Arabia that we have built inside the school; so the opportunity to learn about other cultures and all the riches that brings is immensely important.