International School Award

As an IB World School Wilmington Academy is striving to create global citizens and further develop the international ethos holistically, as well as, academically. We are currently working towards achieving the International School Award at full accreditation level.

After a thorough review of the curriculum taught at Wilmington Academy, it was important for us to identify any further opportunities for development, in terms of embedding and extending an international ethos across the school. It became apparent that, as a school, we already embrace a global dimension, which is underpinned by our IB Middle Years Programme, in Key Stage 3; Years 7-9, and the IBCareers Path, in Key Stage 5. In order to acknowledge, consolidate, and develop existing good practice an action plan was submitted to the British Council for approval.

The action plan outlined seven activities that would be completed during the course of the current academic year. As required, the proposal outlined that three of these projects would be carried out collaboratively with our partner school, Rosa Chacel in Madrid, Spain. The focus of the projects would be the ‘exchange of information’ to allow students to learn about and explore each other’s culture. The other four projects would include cross-curricular learning around a common theme, subject to the needs and requirements of different year groups in specific subject areas.

The aim of each activity

1 - Lifestyles

The aim of this activity is for students to compare the lifestyles of children in the UK and Spain. There will be a focus on the school experience generally, exercise patterns/sports and hobbies and diet. The students will learn what the key differences are and start to make links between these and cultural differences between the UK and Spain.

Through health education students will also be able to compare the different sports around the world and make links to the country’s culture and the influence of climate and wealth in specific countries as well as patterns on each continent.

2 - Sustainability

Students will learn what sustainability means through an investigation of our own school environment initially They will also increase their knowledge of vulnerable environments and consider how they can be protected.They will have a deeper understanding of the problems sustainable development can create, combined with economic development and learn about strategies that are in place or might be introduced in the future to mitigate the human impacts and adaptation that can be made. 

They will consider how we can achieve ‘affordable and clean energy’ to support progress towards one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

3 - Identity

The English Curriculum aims to help students to understand that identity is formed through both external and internal factors. By studying people from different parts of the world, in different circumstances and different time periods, students are able to examine how events and people shape who we were, are and who we will and can be. They explore how self-expression impacts one’s identity and investigate different cultures.There is an overlap between the work in English, History and Morals and Ethics lessons, which serves to consolidate and deepen understanding of the importance of identity.

Through English, History and Morals and Ethics (RE) we will broaden the student’s global perspective and support them to make links between people who are similar and different as well as moments in time. There will be many opportunities for self-reflection to develop these skills and develop students’ ability to empathise with others.

Students will exchange information with our partner school and discuss the types of books and themes/units that are studied, comparing how students in the UK and Spain learn about the all important theme of identity.

4 - Cultural Awareness

Raised awareness of cultures that students are less likely to have any experience of. They will learn about the country beyond what they may have heard or read about in the news or social media, and have an insight into the arts, history, cuisine and literature that form the foundations of their culture.

This activity is an important part of IB philosophy enabling our students to be true Global Citizens. They will learn about different cultures that make up our world to help build acceptance of others, instill anti-racist attitudes as well as being useful throughout their lives, whether when going on holiday or later on encouraging them to look for work anywhere in the world.The sessions help students achieve many of the IB attributes such as being open-minded, caring, reflective, better communicators and inquiries as it makes them more curious about the different cultures. The focus and primary aim of these sessions is for our students to see the beauty and positive aspects of each culture we address, to learn that every community in this world has wonderful customs, culture and things they are proud of.

At the end of each Module student will create a project for the culture they learned about. They will select any aspect of the culture to focus on. It can for example explore the History of Somalia or it can be to create a project of Afghan textile culture where they talk about its history, importance, and even create a design of their own. They can also create a project which focuses on the culture in general, where they will have several aspects of a culture such as producing a piece of work which explains that Indigenous Canadians consist of First Nations, Inuit and Metis. The project will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the culture through writing about cultural clothes, religion and history of the cultures.

5 - Made in Japan

Students will respond to different assignment briefs all with a focus on Japan. The independent research undertaken will be instrumental in developing students’ knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture. Students will explore Japanese styles and learn about products that form part of everyday life in Japan, but do not feature in the UK, as well as learning about products that are more widely used in the UK , but where students had not previously known that they originated in Japan.

6- French Culture, Customs and Celebrations

Students have the opportunity to learn about French customs, celebration and culture and compare them to their own. Students use their language skills to communicate whilst in France. The main aims of all the visits and the activities undertaken by the students is to develop their awareness of French culture and improve their French with particular focus on vocabulary. They will learn many new words during the visits, for example, the names of pastries and sweets unique to France.

7- Natural Hazards Around the World

Students will gain knowledge and deepen their understanding of natural hazards around the world including where they occur, why and the impacts that they have. They will be able to make links between the economic development of the country in relation to the effects and responses, as well as the country’s ability to manage the hazards. Students will also gain an understanding of how high income countries can support low income countries to save lives and rebuild infrastructure.

Learning will be related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals so that students fully understand why they are needed and how much progress has been made, specifically in relation to ‘Sustainable cities and communities’.

The journey so far

A small selection of reflections from staff and students, and some examples of students’ work

1 - Lifestyles

Student reflection

Since learning Spanish, I have been learning a lot about their culture, however I have never had the chance to see inside a real life Spanish school. At Wilmington Academy, we spent time creating videos and presentations to share with the school in Madrid so they could also see how different life is here in the UK. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to work in groups to create something that shows our lifestyle within school. I really enjoyed the videos and presentations from the school in Madrid and the creative aspect of the project. It was hard understanding some of the presentations though as the Spanish students spoke really quickly in their videos. Our Spanish isn’t as good as their English because they have regular English lessons in primary school and lots in secondary school. Some of their lessons are even taught in English

I learnt the importance of teamwork and having to give and take because we worked in small groups. It was really important to communicate clearly with the other people in my group to make sure the presentation was good. I also learnt a lot about the lifestyle in Spain and how different the school dinners were; they follow the Mediterranean diet, which is different from our fish and chip Fridays! They also don’t have to wear a school uniform and our assessments and school rules are very different. I think we are more strict.

I thought that it was difficult to use the technology at times, but this turned into a learning curve and I feel like I am now an expert in Adobe Spark. I also found it difficult to choose only one topic as there was so much that I could have spoken about, however the videos couldn’t be too long so we needed to focus on just one thing.

2 - Sustainability

Staff reflection

Impact the activity had on students

Students thoroughly enjoyed exploring how to make the school sustainable. Students gathered knowledge on how we can live a sustainable life and conducted research into how sustainable our school environment is. Students particularly enjoyed designing a sustainable school, with some including bee hives to further help biodiversity. 

Students enjoyed researching the different methods of generating energy. This was developed after our investigation of the school, where it was noticed that the school has solar panels. This was a hook into considering how we can achieve ‘affordable and clean energy’ to support progress towards one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students developed knowledge on a range of renewable energy methods and how this can combat climate change. They particularly enjoyed focusing on how countries around the world may be more suited to some renewable energy methods and the potential negatives of having solar panels in Dartford. 

Students also explored the impact of litter on both the local and global environment and developed understanding on how their actions affect the wider world, with a particular focus on marine habitats and coral reefs. Students as a consequence have become more mindful of their actions, not only around the school but the wider community, with many now helping with local litter picks.

3 - Identity

Staff reflection

Impact the activity had on students

The identity focus allowed the students to engage with the texts, explore elements of themself as they change and grow, and develop a sense of where they as individuals fit into their community and the world. They have become open-minded and reflective, identifying elements of their own identity has allowed students to understand what they have in common with other people around the world with whom they didn’t originally perceive as being similar to them. Students have developed their curiosity about other cultures, but also their knowledge and understanding of how teenagers and young people grow and experience the world around them.

Impact the activity had on staff

Approaching the teaching focused on one theme has given clear purpose in developing the unit plan- how ideas will grow and skills can be developed in a logical manner. The unit plan overall has pushed us as teachers to consider texts from different countries around the world, pushing us as teachers to include texts outside our “comfort zone” of British Literature. 

Impact the activity had on the community

Students have developed skills that transfer across the curriculum: they have practised research and close reading, thinking critically and creatively to consider how they might respond in a situation that a character is in, and whether or not the character has done the “right” thing. 

In speaking and learning about themselves and one another, students have developed their communication skills and built relationships with their peers. These relationships and effective group work have developed the students’ confidence and how comfortable and confident they are transitioning into secondary school.

Staff reflection

“The biggest impact of the concept of Identity in History lessons this year was felt in year 9 as they have studied Migrations, Holocaust as well as the Struggle for Civil Rights. They were able to use their cross curricular knowledge and skills from English to enhance their learning as well as engagement in these lessons, particularly with the Holocaust as this was also studied in English lessons. They have learned how it is essential to have an identity and also how sometimes it can be forced upon you and be used to oppress and kill. This has instilled in the students the understanding that celebrating and embracing the different identities is essential. In doing so they understand that we are doing the work of preventing the ideas of supremacy, oppression and ethnic cleansing from gaining power again. They understand that there is still a lot of work to be done, but by learning that the concept of Identity has had both positive and disastrous impressions throughout history they are better equipped to build a better world.”

Student reflection

I think it was good learning about identity in different subjects because they all did different things so we learned all about it.  Morals and Ethics helped us understand exactly what it means. In history we learned why people have become who they are because of what they or their family have been through. My favourite bit was the books in English. It made me realise how lucky I am compared to other children in the world. A long Walk to Water made me sad, and so did Frankenstein but in a different way. It made me think a lot about how we all want to fit in and not be different, but it made me think about the importance of tolerance when people are different.

4 - Cultural Awareness

Staff reflections

Impact the activity had on students

The students involved have had exposure to marginalised cultures, which has proved invaluable. As is often the case, the student’s only source of information is social media, with all of the attendant challenges. By providing a factual, concise and interesting sequence of lessons, students have been exposed to marginalised cultures and communities in a way that is positive and bias free. The focus on community, celebrations and traditions was also very much appreciated, and allowed students to see past the (often negative) publicity in the media. 

I think the Cultural Awareness activities have broadened our students’ horizons and made them look beyond their own areas where they live and beyond our country. They have been exposed to cultures and cultural traditions that are vastly different to themselves and they have found it fascinating. Students regularly speak about the Cultural Awareness topics and take it upon themselves to find out more in their spare time, which is amazing to see.

Impact the activity had on staff

I have learned an enormous amount about various cultures that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. I have also been able to mention key ideas in my own lessons, which has enhanced cross curricular links. 

I have learnt a lot and I have really enjoyed sharing this with my students. We have been on a learning journey together in some cases as we’ve all found things that we didn’t know or surprised us.  The staff regularly discuss the impact it is having purely through things like students selecting different texts to read in the library or showing empathy with a cultural story or expression through art. It is nice that this can be carried out across the school because we all approach it differently and the students appreciate the wide variety.

Impact the activity had on the community

I think it has made the school far more aware of what is going on. Students are quicker to look behind the headlines, to seek bias and to search for their own information. It also inspired my form to run their own fundraiser for refugees.

The students are developing more tolerance and empathy. They can recognise where traditions might be different but the values and goals of different cultures are essentially the same. We have had some moments where students have expressed themselves so much more clearly than previously because they were using words such as empathy, tradition, culture and expression.

5 - Made in Japan

Staff reflection

Impact the activity had on students

  • Students are made aware of different aspects of Japanese culture (architecture, foods, traditions and common behaviours)
  • Students have the ability to use learnings from previous subjects and incorporate this learning into their next projects
  • Created open-mindedness when exploring the differences in culture between their own and learned Japanese
  • Reflective space- architectural project. Having an opportunity to create a design for a quiet space for their peers to use for reflection was a good motivator for students. It encouraged them to be caring and open minded. For example, some provided wheelchair access in their design.
  • Students learned about key differences between the culture and etiquette around eating. For example, it is seen as rude for Japanese people to eat whilst walking. It showed the students that something as simple as having a meal is really appreciated in Japanese culture, and that we could change our thinking in relation to food etiquette.

Impact the activity had on staff

  • Staff are encouraged to develop their own understanding of Japanese culture to guide the students and correct any misconceptions.
  • Avoid cultural appropriation – ensuring students understand authentic Japanese culture and use this as inspiration for their designs rather than taking cultural contexts and artefacts and inserting them into western culture
  • Explore contemporary Japanese design as well as traditional to avoid stereotypical views on the culture

Impact the activity had on the community

  • The Architectural garden has been designed specifically for students by students, so they have full overship and were empowered to create independently using their own ideas not led by their teacher. We are confident that when completed it will not only improve the school environment, but as it is being created in an area of the school that is away from the main social spaces it will also provide a quiet space for students to use.
  • Japanese cultural Appreciation festival – to celebrate Japanese culture through serving Japanese range of dishes served on Geta serving boards created by the students. Through researching Japanese culture and etiquette they learned about similarities and differences between the two cultures. They were able to appreciate the diversity of everyday living.
  • Made in Japan- examples of work
  • Made in Japan 2
6- French Culture, Customs and Celebrations

Staff reflection

The MFL department were delighted to take a mixed group of Year 8, 9 and 10 students on a cultural trip to Boulogne, France, for the day. It was a great opportunity for students to practise their French speaking and listening skills, learn new vocabulary, and experience a snapshot of traditional French life. Activities during the day included visits to a bakery, a chocolate factory and most excitingly a snail farm. The staff were all really impressed with their open mindedness and willingness to take risks, in terms of trying new experiences. Not only did they eat snails, in three traditional French dishes, but some also allowed the snails to crawl across them in order to appreciate the benefits of the anti-wrinkle properties in their slime. The whole presentation at the snail farm was conducted in French, which the students used their communication skills to understand. Throughout the day the group demonstrated an appreciation of French customs and culture, and fully immersed themselves in the French way of life.

Student reflection

During our trip to France, we were able to develop our learning by translating what was being said by the people that were telling us all about what they did and then repeating some of the  words. We were able to go into a town and shop where we had other French people around us to help us with our understanding of reading and listening. We first went into a chocolate factory where we saw and tasted the different stages of how the different chocolate flavours were being made, then we visited a snail factory where we looked at how they were grown and were able to taste some afterwards. This is not something that we would see at home. The last place we went to was a bakery where we learned how they made bread and what ingredients/machinery were used to make it. It was good to be able to see for myself the similarities and differences between France and England, including the actual people who we were surrounded by all day. It was a very long trip but it was very enjoyable and I hope to do it again in the future. 

7- Natural Hazards Around the World

Staff reflection

Impact the activity had on students

Students were able to understand how there are processes constantly happening under their feet. This gives them a better context to the world – I.e. why mountains form; how islands such as Hawaii and Iceland form. This links intrinsically with our IB school status. This is the driving focus for us is to ensure that our students are Global Citizens; and that they actively care about the wider world. This is especially important with regards to this topic, as they do not experience tectonic hazards themselves, so it is vital to show them how others are effective. 

They were also able to link this to the concept of development. Specifically, our comparative study of a HIC and LIC country allowed students to understand how the effects and responses will vary depending on the resources made available to different countries. They understood the need for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal in relation to sustainable cities and communities.

This also allows students to develop an understanding of the synoptic links between different topics within Geography, a key skill that will help them throughout their studies and geography and science.

Furthermore, with regards to GCSE learning, Storm Eunice hitting the UK gave us a very contemporary case study to use in their exams – something that will endear them to the examiners and hopefully give them a good chance of achieving the best possible outcomes.

Impact the activity had on staff

This project has allowed staff to develop their ability to link real world events to their teaching.

For example, when teaching about tectonic hazards; a volcano in La Palma, Spain erupted. This was very useful for framing these events in a way that is impactful and contemporary for students. This is because it was a topic they had seen on the news/social media. I believe this allowed students to develop a better understanding of the effects of these events; since not only was there modern footage, but they were consuming this media in a way that is relatable to them. 

Impact the activity had on the community

To refer back to the concept of the IB Learner profile; the idea of creating caring global citizens that are able to empathise with other people around the world, creates a better ethos around the school. This is because students are better able to empathise with others in more general ways; such as with regards to the conflict in Ukraine.

Next update September 2022