Aim: To broaden our students’ cultural understanding by introducing an element of world history and tying it in across the whole school through a number of different activities, within which the History Department would take the lead.

Background: Gordon’s school has a limited ethnic mix of students. This project also allowed Gordon’s School to explore and promote an element of the school’s history, as General Gordon played a significant part in 19th century Chinese history.

Method: A group of Year 9 students were selected to be the school’s ‘International Relations’ group. They assisted on ‘China Week’, during which Chinese history was taught across KS3. Some other departments, e.g. Food Technology and Geography, joined in with China Week and a Chinese themed lunch was held in the dining hall. The International Relations group were offered a trip to China in 2016 as an incentive and began Mandarin lessons in January 2014.

Chinese History was not written into Schemes of Work as planned due to difficult staffing circumstances within the department. However, a discrete lesson on Chinese History was delivered across KS3 and a group of Year 9 students were taken to a local primary school to teach Chinese History based around a Victorian theme to link in with their curriculum.

Links with the Surrey Chinese Partnership and Woking Chinese Association were established and the International Relations students, along with others, were involved in the Surrey Festival of Chinese Arts – students had learned the necessary skills (Chinese instruments, art, calligraphy, language and cooking!).

A partnership was established with Caoyang High School in Shanghai with a visit by the Head of Department. Departments from across the school sought to embed an activity within their curriculum that has a link with Caoyang High school, e.g. a Chinese/English comparative weather patterns study in Science, Maths and Geography. Geography also introduced a ‘China’ project into their Year 9 curriculum.

The school’s application for the ‘Foundation’ award for the International Schools Award from the British Council was successful, and an ‘Intermediate’ application has been completed.

Evidence: Student feedback, reports to governors, additions to school website.

Impact: As a result of all these initiatives, students became engaged and had a broader cultural experience than previously. Staff and students enjoyed Chinese themed activities and numerous different departments became involved.

Reflections: I have realised that the focus of our curriculum is narrow, and yet there are difficulties involved in changing that, in terms of both time commitment and the appropriate selection of historical time periods and topic focus. Another challenge has been engaging other departments and persuading them to undertake the additional planning and development of activities on top of already extremely busy schedules. Overall, however, this has been an extremely successful and rewarding project that continues to inspire both our staff and students and which we will continue to develop in the coming years.

Contact: Jacqueline Pierce, Head of History