LEO Academy Trust schools have been part of the Sister School Partnerships programme since 2018 when they initially established a link with schools in Chengdu and have most recently signed an agreement with Tianfu Mei’an Primary School, Tianfu Wan’an Primary School, Tianfu No.6 Primary School and Tianfu Baisha Primary School.
To celebrate the partnership and a trip to China scheduled for Spring 2023, the pupils were immersed online in Chinese culture during the 2-day China Online Immersion programme, with virtual tours of Chengdu, craft sessions and a live interaction session with their sister schools.
We spoke to the staff at students to find out how they benefited from the experience.
Brookfield Primary Academy
Oli, Teacher at Brookfield Primary Academy:
“The two days were packed with lots of information and interesting facts about culture as well as the sister schools. Children especially enjoyed the craft activities designing and painting the Chinese opera masks and calligraphy. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the Chinese students, exchange information and learn songs together, we even enjoyed a game of charades which was fun for the children.
Thank you for all your fantastic effort and planning and organising. The third day was a great way to end, it was wonderful to see the creativity of all children when making their presentations. They loved the dance workshop too. Well done!”
“The virtual China trip was a very fun time. I really enjoyed it a lot. I would like to go there again, hopefully in real life because I think it will be even more fun. My favourite activity was when we created presentation slides about what we learned and did over the first 2 days. PS: Thank you to Mr Ansell for hosting this.” – Caleb, Y5.
“The virtual trip was fun. We got to meet our Chinese friends and do fun activities. The food also tasted good. My favourite activity was painting the Chinese opera mask.” – Jasper Y5.
Cheam Fields Primary Academy
Chris Ansell, Mandarin Language Lead at Cheam Fields Primary Academy.
“This was the second year running we decided to offer our Mandarin club children an immersive Chinese experience in light of sadly being unable to travel to China in person. It was an exciting and informative 2-day event in collaboration with TEP and we added a further day to include more activities such as a dance workshop and the opportunity for the children to dive into other areas of Chinese culture that interested them.
It is always special to join together with other schools in our Trust and share experiences like this. The children who were invited were all active members of our LEO Mandarin Club and attend weekly language and cultural sessions. One of my highlights was witnessing all these children together, connected through our language programme and having a fulfilling experience that enabled them to put some of their learning into practice. It might not have been the same as boarding a plane and setting foot on Chinese soil but it was the next best thing we could have offered in the circumstances.
The event was full of active learning opportunities through interactive language sessions, daily exercise routines and crafts. The second day included the opportunity to interact with each of our Sister Schools. We have been supported by TEP in coming together and the GSA platform is useful for sharing photos of special events or communicating with and is certainly an area we are key to utilise more in the future.
Meeting in real time however, as we did on day 2, gives an entirely more genuine and purposeful feel and we appreciated the Chinese side being so adaptable and considerate with their timings to ensure the seven-hour time difference wouldn’t be problematic. It took some time to warm up and shake off the nerves but once the children got into it they had a great time. Both sides were able to ask questions they wanted to find out and all children participated. We were so impressed with the level of English from the Chinese students and although we predominantly spoke in English ourselves it was great to hear the children practising the Mandarin they have learned in our weekly lessons.”
Feedback from pupils at Cheam Fields Primary Academy
“I enjoyed the arts and crafts including the Beijing Opera Mask as it allowed me to go deeper into their culture.” – Mia.
“I enjoyed meeting children in our Sister Schools and learning about what their interests are and how their school is different to ours.” – Phoebe.
“I found it interesting it was 11 am for us and 6 pm for them.” – Sam.
“I loved the calligraphy – we learned the character yong (meaning eternity) which includes all 8 strokes.” – Sam.
“It was interesting how their characters have developed from pictures. Now they are printed quite often technology means the characters have straighter edges.” – Sam.
“We learned about the Beijing Opera Masks and how the colours represented the different personalities and characteristics of the person wearing it. It was also interesting to learn that traditionally white represents sinister and suspicious characters whereas black represents fierceness and independence.” – Menaal.