Good Shepherd Primary and Nursery School in Derry has received official recognition of its unique educational links with a school in China.
Staff and pupils were joined recently by the Minister of Education John O’Dowd and other special guests to celebrate the International School Partnership with Wei Gang Primary and Nursery School in Hefei, China.
The partnership was originally established in 2009 to bring about mutual benefits to pupils and teachers of both schools in the areas of language, culture, teaching and learning and communications.
Guests were welcomed in Mandarin by the student council and treated to a performance of traditional Chinese music by pupils.
Speaking at the ceremony, Principal Paul Irvine said: “We warmly welcome our visitors from China and especially Miss Xiaoquin Chen, Principal, Wei Gang Primary and Nursery School, to help mark our successful ongoing international partnership with the school. Since the International School Partnership was first established in 2009 we have witnessed a cultural change within the school. Pupils have become increasingly global in their outlook with a view on the world that is inclusive and responsible. Our pupils reach out to each other from their classrooms full of vision, hope and optimism for the future.
“Teachers from both schools, both though reciprocal visits and sharing of good practice have also greatly benefited from the partnership. One of the recent practical benefits has been the opportunity for key stage 2 classes to learn Mandarin. We are committed to fostering and developing this partnership and we are dedicated to providing a global education for our pupils.”
Speaking after the event, Jim Clarke, Chief Executive for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) commended the staff and pupils on their work to date, and said he had every confidence in the continuing success of the partnership.
Minister O’Dowd highly praised the initiative during his visit.
He said: “Evidence has shown that children can benefit greatly from learning another language as it can improve their confidence, self-esteem and motivation to learn.
“Learning languages can also help young people think on a more global scale and help them to feel part of the global community.”
The Education Minister said the partnership had also fostered new friendships between the pupils in Derry and China.