In February 2004 a colleague and I from school were lucky enough to be part of a West Sussex group TIPD study visit to Las Vegas. We spent 4 days being whisked round a variety of schools studying teaching and learning methods. As ICT subject leader I was particularly interested in computer technology in elementary (primary) education. One school was very keen to exchange ideas and make e-links with a school in England.
On our return, we established e-mail links for pupils, and over several months started filming a video diary A Year in the life of our School, then planned and carried out a live broadcast through the West Sussex secure server, primarily aimed at our American link school, but also available to parents and family.
We wanted to go back to gain more insight into our link school’s specialist Autistic Unit and to study their library system and how it is integrated into their school, so we applied for a TIPD School Determined Visit to our link school. Up to 4 teachers from one school can apply. With only 4 permanent members of our teaching team, selection was not a problem!
To qualify for funding, you need to be able to demonstrate that staff and pupils have already been working on joint activities. As the International Dimension and establishing multi-cultural links are in our Action Plans, we were able to apply.
Report on the visit
Although last year’s visit had been inspiring and educational, to be able to spend a whole week within one school, observing, shadowing, teaching and generally being part of the school team had an enormous impact on us all.
We were welcomed with open arms, and each enjoyed a broad and varied week’s programme, across the age range and throughout the curriculum. We gained greater insight into the education system in that district of Nevada and exchanged methods and ideas with our peers. One of the highlights was accompanying a group of dancers from our link school to a multi-cultural dance festival where they performed a dance from Hawaii.
The personal and professional benefit to all staff and both schools was tremendous. The link is developing further with dedicated pages on both school web sites. Because of its success and impact on pupils and staff, we have recently forged a link with New Zealand and are actively pursuing one with South Korea. We now have an International Dimension policy and subject leader. Our next move? To apply for an International School Award. Meanwhile our link school in Las Vegas is planning a return visit to West Sussex.
This whole experience blossomed from an local authority group TIPD visit. These visits are well advertised by West Sussex. I would urge anyone interested in developing their own insight and experience through an exciting and worthwhile International visit to apply.