In the role of Lead Member for Children’s Services, you get to do some really cool stuff. This afternoon was one of those times when I along with the Chairman of Cornwall Council, John Wood welcomed a group of teachers and students from the region of Castilla y León of Spain to New County Hall. This follows on from a previous visit back in 2013.
The visitors will be sharing good teaching practice and, in the case of the Spanish students, teaching Spanish to primary children. The visit is funded by the European Union education programme, Comenius Regio. The group will visit 18 secondary and primary schools across Cornwall.
The schools taking part are Bude Junior School, Budehaven Community School, Torpoint Community College, Portreath Community Primary School, Newquay Tretherras School, Treleigh Community Primary School, Redruth School, Parc Eglos School, Helston Community College, Bosvigo Primary School, Richard Lander School, Treloweth Community Primary School, Pool Academy, St Stephens, Launceston, Community Academy, Penrice Academy, Carclaze Community Primary School, Wadebridge Primary Academy and Wadebridge Community School.
Over the next week, the teachers will observe classes and help with teaching where appropriate. In Spain, learning a foreign language is given a high-profile with many subjects taught through English, even at primary school. The students aged between 15 and 18 will bring some authentic Spanish songs, games and stories to primary classrooms in Cornwall, acting as junior language assistants and staying with their Cornish partners who did the same in places like Segovia and Burgos in October.
I have always felt we in the UK are way behind our European neighbours when it comes to languages. This should change with languages now being a compulsory subject in primary schools. A change I very much welcome. It is also very important that as a Council we encourage initiatives such as this which give our young people experience and confidence as well as vital foreign language skills. Furthermore, it gives Cornwall’s and the Spanish young people having a greater understanding of other cultures.
The EU Regio programme funds regional education projects which can act as a springboard for future collaboration between schools. Helston College is already receiving students from Salamanca on an exchange basis and other schools such as Redruth (with Palencia) and Budehaven (with Avila) are actively planning similar projects. Treloweth Community Primary School in Redruth is using this project as a stimulus to apply for further EU funding to train teachers with its partner school in Soria.