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Mar 1, 2019

Pupils work to banish cultural and linguistic barriers

Wolstanton High School continues to be a beacon of community cohesion as part of the Erasmus+ ‘Do You Speak Culture?’ programme.

The academy, which is part of the Shaw Education Trust, recently welcomed eleven teachers from across Slovenia, Italy, France and Romania in a bid to promote emotional acceptance and active tolerance.

Clint Lakin, the lead teacher for the Erasmus+ programme at Wolstanton, said: “We were honoured to be the host school and thoroughly enjoyed providing the delegates with an insight into the UK education system.”

With a growing proportion of refugee and EAL children entering UK schools, an innovative use of the Erasmus+ scheme such as this can play an important part in increasing understanding of immigration and raising cultural awareness amongst both staff and pupils of its positive impact.

The school has participated in the fully-funded European Union programme for several years, enabling pupils in Year 8 onwards to visit other countries, learn different languages and experience a range of cultures. During the latest activity-packed week, visiting delegates taught pupils about their countries fascinating histories, gained a first-hand experience of school life and shared their teaching practices with staff members.

The week provided Wolstanton leaders and the visiting delegates with the opportunity to analyse the impact of immigration on schools and host communities, discussing methods of integrating pupils cost effectively and in a culturally respectful manner.

Mr Lakin continued: “Everybody in the programme is the same, we all want the same things – it is the essence of what education is – developing children as well-rounded individuals with broad horizons.”

With a key aim of the Erasmus+ being to counteract existing negative portrayals, inclusivity is an ongoing theme of the programme. At Wolstanton, pupils in receipt of pupil premium funding, are in care or have English as an additional language receive an advantaged application as part of the school’s ongoing pledge to provide disadvantaged pupils with the best education experience possible.

Commenting on the impact of the school’s participation, Mr Lakin said: “It provides children with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have and develops friendships which affect people’s lives.

“Pupils feel empowered. Staff feel inspired. It is a lovely network between the schools which enables us all to take away a different point of view.”

The progress of those participating in the programme is monitored and the positive impact it is having on pupils at Wolstanton is clearly evidenced in the increase in attendance, social skills and engagement.

With so many benefits, Mr Lakin urges other schools to get involved, saying: “It is a key driver for reducing discrimination in UK schools and provides exposure to new practices. It may be extra work, but you get to see the impact on individual lives.

“If the money is there, schools should try to get it to positively impact pupil’s education experience, and potentially change their life.”