In 2013 we were awarded the full International School Award and our first Comenius project; we also launched a connecting classrooms partnership in conjunction with the British Council. We regularly work with the British International School in London, and have welcomed visitors from Japan, Italy and Russia to experience educational in an English secondary school.
Mrs Morrison had a vision to visit as many continents as possible starting with Europe and the Performing Arts department, with visits to Italy, Spain and Disneyland Paris. The success in Europe allowed the Leadership team to explore new horizons, adding a tour to the USA in partnership with Ridge Community High School, Polk County. After two years travelling across the Atlantic, we decided to change direction! We were lucky enough to find a partner in Cape Town, South Africa, and our partnership with Manenberg High School was formed.
After two years travelling to Manenberg, we were this year extremely excited to welcome our extended family to our academy. We had arranged for 10 days of excursions and activities, ranging from London to Oxford, with a trip to a West End theatre production of Memphis. All of these activities centred alongside a programme of lessons at our Academy.
On the morning of our guest’s arrival we greeted them at Heathrow Airport, with students waving banners to welcome the two staff - Mr Thurston Brown, principal and Mr Cammy Williams, deputy principal - with four learners. We also had our Easter egg gifts ready for them, which didn’t last long after the mammoth flight via Doha. Three of the Manenberg learners had never travelled on a plane before, while one had never travelled outside of South Africa.
We made our way back to the academy in Romford, where we were again greeted by staff and students with banners and flags. In the crowd were also some familiar faces; the former students on our first South Africa Tour had arrived to welcome the Manenberg party. It was clear that the experience and impact on our students had been an experience for life!
Throughout the week, learners took part in French, Mathematics, Technology, English and History lessons. We also visit Oxford and Southend, played golf, went bowling and held a table tennis tournament at Mrs Morrison’s house!
Year 11 pupil Jenson Grech, a Student Global Ambassador who recently travelled to Istanbul for a Youth Summit said:
“Since joining Bower Park in 2010 I have been fortunate to travel on three international tours. Travelling to South Africa was an experience that I will never forget, and one that I am extremely grateful for. I was lucky enough to also have two of the Manenberg High School students stay at my house, and allowed my family to also experience the South African culture.”
Year 10’s Liam Turner, student head of House for Mandela said:
“It was an honour and a privilege to travel to South Africa last year. To welcome them here and be able to pay back our experience is something I will cherish for the rest of my life! I am extremely grateful for everything Bower Park Academy has supported me with.”
In fact, the South Africa experience affected the students so much that Jenson and Liam have created the Bower Park Academy Foodbank, in conjunction with the Collier Row food bank, to serve the local community. The whole experience of international tours has allowed the students to address similar problems to what we saw in Manenberg in our own borough. They tackle the very issues that OFSTED have set out in the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) category.
Mr Brown, principal of Manenberg High school, thanked Bower Park Academy for the fantastic welcome:
“We have built between our two schools a partnership that goes from strength-to-strength. We believe in a partnership that is equal and has a shared Global Vision in a multicultural world.“
Mrs Morrison praised all students that have benefited and will continue to benefit from the school’s programme. Students were commended for their hospitality and support for visiting schools. She said:
“We work hard at Bower Park Academy to ensure our pupils are part of a modern multicultural Britain, and where possible enable as many students as possible to experience international travel.”
The future of Bower Park Academy and the Global Vision goes from strength-to-strength, and Mrs Morrison’s vision to have every student take part in an educational tour may become reality.<>Nearing the end of the school year, our last International Trip as part of the Comenius project will soon take place. We will be hosting the final part of the two year project here with over 60 guests. We have applications at present with the British Council to create partnerships, in Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Turkey, and Greece. We have also just received news that we have been awarded two Connecting Classroom grants for Bangladesh and Lebanon. This will enable staff to also experience international travel with a professional learning goals and targets. A CPD programme that all staff are enthusiastic about, engaged in, and are ready to share opportunities to which is sometimes rare and with no cost to the academy.
We also had some exciting news to share with our student body. Bower Park Academy has been nominated to be the lead school of the Global Youth Network. The GYN will allow more students to access International travel, Project work, Events and Completions. The GYN last year had access to 1,000,000 EUR worth of funding, which we hope will only grow with time. Our students will have access to a world of opportunities and we can help expand our Global Vision here at school, and in our local community.
Do you feature any international projects at your school? Let us know in the comments.