County Durham pupils are set to visit partner schools around the globe after grants totalling more than £300,000 were secured.
The government launched its new Turing Scheme earlier this year, a global programme to study and work abroad. It provides funding for international opportunities in education and training across the world. Supporting the government’s Global Britain objectives, the scheme unlocks the opportunity for UK organisations to offer life-changing experiences across the world for their students, learners and pupils.
Schools in County Durham have been supported by Durham County Council’s International Relations Team to forge links with partner school communities around the world and, as a result, the county has some of the highest levels of international education activity in the country.
A number of schools have been successful in their applications.
Pupils from Rosa Street, Cleves Cross, Shotley Bridge and Escomb primary schools will visit Spain, while Tanfield Primary pupils will go to France and Lanchester EP Primary will visit India. Youngsters from Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College will visit Vietnam, France and Canada, while pupils at St John’s School and Sixth Form College will go to India, Spain, Germany and Chile.
Headteacher at Escomb Primary School Wendy Gill said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our bid for funding as this will enable us to build links and partnerships in a real and meaningful way. It will provide children with an opportunity to travel and experience first-hand another country and its culture; giving them a greater awareness of the world in which they live.
“Hopefully it will have a lasting impact and will encourage children to broaden their horizons and want to travel and learn new languages as young adults.”
Pupils at Bishop Barrington and St Bede’s in Lanchester will go to Spain, while children at The Academy at Shotton Hall are set to visit the USA.
The visits will mostly take place in late spring/summer of 2022. Although it is the first year of the scheme, it is hoped that the government will agree to its continuation and that more schools can take part in 2022/23.
Throughout the pandemic, schools have been given opportunity to continue to work virtually with their overseas peers and to take part in a range of digital projects which underline the global nature of the impact of coronavirus. Schools now feel ready to consider bringing their pupils into direct contact with their partners when travel restrictions allow and it is considered safe to do so.
County Durham schools were quick to respond when the scheme was launched in March; appreciating the value in offering pupils a quality international experience. It requires that most of the time abroad is spent learning in the partner school and working with partner school pupils. This creates an opportunity for pupils to develop important life skills as well as being an opportunity to practise foreign languages.
Research undertaken by the British Council aligns international experience with future job prospects and draws attention to how these experiences are often accessed much less often by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The scheme also aims to support the levelling up agenda and engage young people who face some form of barrier to participation.
The International Relations Team promoted the scheme, supported the finding and development of partner school links and supported the application process. The team will now also offer logistical support and work with colleagues at Durham University to offer appropriate linguistic and cultural preparation.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Congratulations to our schools which have been able to secure funding for trips abroad next year through the Turing Scheme.
“I’m sure pupils will have an enjoyable time learning about other cultures and traditions in such fascinating locations, broadening their horizons and furthering their education. A huge thanks must also go to our International Relations Team for all of its hard work in helping with the application process and developing important links with partner schools across the world for this scheme.”