Recognising a need for our students to gain additional insights into different cultures, traditions and environments the Community Cohesion Partnership programme at Belvidere was begun in 2012 when a pilot project was organised with Washwood Heath Academy in Birmingham. This school has on roll 1800 students from a very multi-racial background with 1% of white students and 27 languages being spoken.
Since that time the programme has grown to include students from Years 7-9, with different students being involved each time. Belvidere students have taken part in visits to Washwood Heath and have hosted students from the partner school here at Belvidere.
Activities involve ice-breakers to help the students find the confidence to talk to each other in order to maximise the time that they spend together finding out about each other’s home and school life. Students from both schools have always left the sessions enthused about their new friendships and about the discoveries they have made about the partner school, and have endeavoured to share these findings through vertical tutor group sessions in their own school.
Students have taken part in orienteering together, visits to the Shrewsbury Battlefields, the German Christmas Markets. They have examined the local areas around both schools and have gone geocaching around Ironbridge.
Washwood Heath Academy students have come to see our school shows and during Islamic Awareness Week they returned to deliver assemblies to Belvidere students from all years. The partnership between the two schools has proved to be very successful and we look forward to expanding and developing the programme to include a whole school approach.
Students at Belvidere can talk directly to people from all over the world, thanks to the use of their Video Conferencing equipment. Students have had the opportunity to ask questions direct to experts via a live stream about specific topics relevant to their GCSE studies - and all without leaving the classroom.
Recent projects have involved working with the staff at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre to set up a Maths trail using rare and delicate artefacts from the museum archives. Science students also had the opportunity to watch a series of exciting science experiments involving liquid nitrogen, all the way from Australia. That project certainly went with a BANG!
One of our most successful projects is our partnership with High Prairie Elementary school in Alberta Canada. After initial concerns about the time difference between the two countries, the partnership has become a part of school life at Belvidere.Students from Belvidere have been keen to stay after school to vc with students who had just arrived for the morning at their school in Canada. Each vc session had to be halted for the Canadian pupils to sing “Oh Canada” an event that takes place every morning.
There have been a variety of topics discussed including; our local area, forests, our school, sports, and the most enlightening – Hunting!! This highlighted many cultural differences between the two countries and our students learnt a great deal. For example, pupils in Alberta are encouraged to hunt from an early age and they ride their quad bikes on the roads without helmets! – a fact that horrified some students in the UK.
Many of the pupils in both countries felt that they had learnt a lot about life thousands of miles away and had made many friendships as well.
Languages teachers recorded a French lesson being taught at Belvidere and a French lesson being taught in Alberta. We were able to exchange the recordings and then meet via vc to discuss the different approaches to teaching the same language. Both departments benefitted greatly and learnt some new ideas from each other.