On Wednesday 17 April, at assembly Mr Friel welcomed our student visitors and their teachers from Suzhou Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China. For the last three years St. Gregory’s has been a lead member of the Bath-Suzhou Partnership, a ground-breaking initiative between schools in Bath and Suzhou New District, China.
Over the Easter break, Mr Friel made his second trip over to Suzhou and was able to meet the students in their school and answer many of the questions they had in advance of their visit. He was reassured to discover that their concerns were very much the same concerns of young people all over, which were mostly about food, homework and computer games.
The students and their teachers will be at St. Gregory’s for the rest of the summer term and will be living with homestay families. They will follow a normal timetable with the Year 7 students apart from on a Wednesday when they will go on day trips to sites of historical importance. This is the third year we have welcomed students in this way. Writhlington School are also part of the initiative and this week Chinese students and teachers are joining them from the same school.
The students make significant gains in their level of English and learn a great deal about British culture and history. For the students at St. Gregory’s it is a very enriching experience as they meet young people from the fastest growing economy in the world and learn the importance of respect and tolerance among different peoples and cultures.
We have also introduced Mandarin to the curriculum, led by our specialist teacher Dr Theresa Munford, and next year for the first time will be offering Mandarin at GCSE. With the opening of our sixth form we hope this partnership will grow and develop further in the years ahead.