A delegation of Chinese school children visited Nottingham — with an exchange programme to their Nottingham sister school and a visit to the University of Nottingham — further strengthening the City’s links with Ningbo in China.
The Fernwood School in Wollaton hosted the 22 Year 10 students from Ningbo No.2 High School, who travelled to the East Midlands for five days, to experience local student life and take part in an exciting programme of events.
The young visitors, aged 15 and 16, were given a diverse flavour of schooling at Fernwood. Each was assigned a Year 10 ‘buddy’ and attended a full timetable of lessons. A food technology class was included in their itinerary, along with orienteering and a game of rounders — the quintessential school game which has become a staple of British summertime.
A visit to University Park took place with a presentation in Trent Building followed by a tour of the campus from student ambassadors. And extra-curricular activities throughout the week also saw the students taking their food technology class-baked goods to afternoon tea at Wollaton Hall, a trip to the City Ground, a visit to Nottingham City Council, and a traditional fish and chip supper.
Claire Johnson-Chuter, Head of Drama at Fernwood School, who managed the visit which took place from 9-13 July, said: “This marks our first visit from Ningbo students and we are extremely excited to build a long-lasting friendship with Ningbo No.2 High School.
“At Fernwood we value academic achievement but also feel strongly that experiences beyond the classroom are valuable in educating the whole child.”
The Fernwood School and Ningbo No.2 High School became sister schools in October 2017 following the signing of the sister school memorandum of understanding (MoU) during the Head Teacher Delegation visit, organised over a 12-month period by the University’s Nottingham Confucius Institute (NCI) in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Ningbo Educational Bureau and Access China UK (ACUK). The six day event took place from 15-20 October 2017, and was the second Head Teacher Delegation visit organised by NCI in three years.
The delegation travelled to Ningbo and Shanghai, and welcomed one official from the educational section of Nottingham City Council and nine head teachers from local primary and secondary schools in the East Midlands region, including some of the best schools in Nottingham such as Rushcliffe School and The Fernwood School (OFSTED Outstanding rated).
The purpose of the visit was for delegates to get to know more about China. For most of them, it was their first ever visit and a vital opportunity to learn about Chinese culture and the Chinese education system, with a view to exploring options for cooperation and exchange with schools in China.
Hua Geddes, Manager of the University’s Nottingham Confucius Institute, said: “The success of the past two Head Teacher Delegation visits has led to an increasing demand for Chinese language and culture activities from local schools.”
Since the beginning of the year and in preparation of last week’s visit, dedicated Fernwood students have been attending extra-curricular lessons in Mandarin and Chinese culture, with the Nottingham Confucius Institute offering Mandarin lessons once a week. Showcasing their new language skills, the Fernwood pupils delivered a speech in Mandarin to their Ningbo classmates as part of their closing ceremony.
A Year 10 Fernwood student, who was buddied with a Ningbo student, said: “It’s been an eye opening experience! It’s interesting to compare the two schools… we have lots more practical lessons but they are more focused on traditional subjects.”
Their Ningbo buddy, said: “This trip has been amazing. The teachers are very welcoming and I especially like the food!”
Eighteen sister schools in Nottingham and Ningbo have now paired up, many of whom have had pupils from China visit their school or vice versa. There have also been three successful NCI-led student delegation visits to China since 2015, and in October 2019 the first group of Fernwood Year 10 students will visit Ningbo.
The University became the first foreign higher education institution in the world to open its doors in the People’s Republic when the University of Nottingham Ningbo China accepted its first students in 2004.
Building on the pioneering work of the University, Nottingham aims to become the UK’s most China friendly city and both the UK and Chinese Governments see Nottingham and Ningbo as leading the way in joint city-to-city working, with the Chinese Government keen to hold the close relationship between the two cities as a shining example it wants other Chinese cities to replicate.
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