It was a great pleasure to join teachers from The Weald School when they recently accepted the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of the school's work to "bring the world into the classroom".
The ISA is a signal recognition for schools that do outstanding work in international education, such as through links with partner schools overseas. The Weald's international work includes taking part in a European-wide Comenius project which links it with schools in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Austria. Students take part common projects over two years, gaining different European perspectives.
The school has also had a decade of commitment to building classrooms in Kenya - raising over £360,000 and building over 80 classrooms. This year around 50 students travelled to the Kitale region to build four classrooms using money they raised.
The Award is clearly for the international reach and engagement of the school but talking to the staff it's clear quite how widely encompassing is the impact of the project. For the students it involves not just the achievement on the ground but the planning, preparation and fund raising required.
Last Friday we heard that the UK and EU have agreed a basis for moving on from the first phase of discussions and into trade talks - a conclusion which I hope will be endorsed at the European Council and is a subject to which I hope to return. This is extremely good news and I in particular welcome the reassurance gives to EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.
As we move into the next phase of talks and ultimately leave the political construct of the EU our strong connections and relationships at every level across Europe will become more and not less important. Likewise our relationships with the emerging countries of the world that in the future are expected to generate 90 per cent of global growth will be critical.
The British Council’s aspiration to create global citizens is worthy in itself. It is also true that being outward looking and willing to engage throughout the world will be the bedrock of our future economic engagements and success.
Photo caption: Joining Malcolm Peppiatt and Theresa Gooda of the Weald School at the British Council to receive The Weald’s recognition as part of the International School Award.