Alongside a focus on personal development and character education, our international outlook is also at the very heart of what we do and equally vital to our ethos; we want our girls to know that as human beings there is much more that unites us than divides us. We think this work is vital to a world leading and world changing curriculum. As the author R.J Palacio says “we cant teach empathy, but we can inspire it’ and the direct contact between our girls and their counterparts overseas gives them a personal insight into life elsewhere and brings aspects of our curriculum into a real world context. An old adage suggests that at a party we should seek out and speak to the people least like ourselves. Don’t make a beeline for the people who seem just like you; dress just like you; think just like you! The people least like you are often the most interesting and our international outlook allows us to bring the outside world in – to beam children from around the world straight into the classroom; to meet different cultures, different races; to hear about life as a child elsewhere; to make new friends; to experience different points of view and to always be drawn back to the common traits that make us all human.
Alongside a comprehensive array of international trips and visits - Iceland, Germany, France, Spain, Cuba, USA, Nepal and Namibia this year alone - we are also committed to working with schools from around the world inside the classroom. We already have partner schools in France, Spain, Cuba, Morocco, Nepal, Tanzania, Lebanon and Bangladesh. Our work in this area this year, and our success, has only made us hungry to do even more. We have reflected upon and refocused our views that curriculum should not just interest and inspire the girls, not just reflect and respond and be relevant to the world we live in, but that we need to be much more ambitious; that the curriculum we teach should give our girls the knowledge, the skills, the drive, the courage and the values to change the world for the better; to realise that we are always ‘better together’.
A second consideration is that this is a sustainable way to ensure that the vast majority of our students get some direct experience of a childhood lived elsewhere, of a global perspective – given that all those overseas trips are costly for students and costly in time and organisation for the staff who lead them. They are of course also for the few and not the many. That said, this is a way to provide heavily subsidised trips overseas to students who would never otherwise have had the opportunity to go. This last year alone, bar COVID 19 interrupting plans, 23 students would have visited Madrid and we had begun to plan a trip for 20 students to visit Nepal in February 2021 on potentially life changing trips – all either free of charge or virtually free of charge.
However, all students can benefit from bringing life overseas directly into our classrooms through video conferencing technology and/or penpal exchanges and the like. Presently, too, with the current situation with COVID 19 and the likely impact for some years to come on overseas trips we feel this to be especially vital.
An international outlook is not offering lots of trips (though we do). It is a much more fundamental attempt to focus our curriculum on global issues and challenges, to provide opportunities for our girls to work with students overseas to better understand these challenges, (and each other) and to work collaboratively with teachers and educators overseas to share best practice.
Check out our international outlook brochure for a more detailed look at what we do.