The Global School Alliance has awarded the Bronze Award School to St Peter’s Catholic School in Bournemouth, UK.

We spoke to Martin Ridley, the school’s International Coordinator, to learn about their work 13-year-long partnership and continuous international work as a global thinking school.

Why is global education important to you and your school?

We’ve seen the power of collaboration and international partnership in action in so many ways! The looks on pupils’ faces when they’re talking to others far away or the sincerity when learning about other children is incredibly impactful. We’ve seen students go further in their learning, push themselves to try new things, work with others selflessly, find new talents and even change life plans thanks to international partnerships. Teachers have added whole new areas of skills to their abilities and have been invigorated to try new ideas and to share burdens: two aspects of teaching in the UK that are tough to get started on sometimes.

How has the Global School Alliance benefited you as a teacher and the opportunities for your school?
To be supported by a dedicated organisation is seriously underestimated! School leaders are emboldened when the wider audience is so clear and sometimes leaders need to know there’s an established network that can deliver support. It’s easy to feel isolated too so to have a huge network of global schools to call on really counts, especially as time is often against us when planning or looking for inspiration.

What benefits do you think this award will have on the whole school community?

Our main partnership was established in 2009 and we are as strong as ever. Our links with communities in both countries will enjoy the recognition the award brings and we will publicise our achievements. Pupils and staff will also know they are part of a wider, recognised and thriving alliance that will only open doors for us all. Sometimes teaching feels a bit ‘shut in’, where loneliness breeds as people are so busy we struggle to see over edges of our own little worlds, so times like this are like a sunrise: refreshing and promising!

How will you use the Global School Award to motivate students and staff?

Pupils and staff will also know they are part of a wider, recognised and thriving alliance that will only open doors for us all.

Martin RidleyInternational Coordinator at St Peter’s Catholic School
I’ve already been to see our coaching leader to move forward an idea that David Geldart (Bambisanani Partnership leader and such an inspirational guy) gave me: enable staff who might be on our coaching programme to use our international links to reinvigorate their teaching or to take new avenues (sometimes teachers just need an idea, an opportunity, a ‘light bulb moment’ or new people to work with). She was impressed but also has offered to extend our coaching course to our main partner school in South Africa – amazing! I’m writing that email to Nicholas, the headteacher in South Africa, as I write this and I hope this all develops into very useful things.

What are your plans for the future to develop internationalism?

Lots of plans for 2023!

A fantastic maths teacher has offered to get a class working with our partner school in South Africa, where students will swap worksheets and help each other learn.

Hoping to work with Bournemouth University as they offer links for students to work internationally – this would be totally new to us but makes perfect sense.

There are plans for a student trip – all a bit ‘draft’ at the moment but this could be a big deal for lots of staff and students, as well as many families in Bournemouth and around Shea O’Connor Combined School in South Africa.

We’ve just started swapping postcards with National Yuanlin Senior High School in Taiwan and really hope to develop our collaboration further.

I want to get more international work embedded in our schemes of work for lots of subjects in the next twelve months. This is the best way for us to ensure regular use of our international links and already established for a few subjects.

I want to raise more funding for the work that schools like Michaelhouse, KwaZulu Natal does for Shea O’Connor Combined School. Since two students were killed in a horrible minibus accident (where the private minibus was driven by a drunk driver) Michaelhouse have developed the ‘Back-a-Buddy’ scheme to get children to and from school safely. This is important to us and St Peter’s School raised £2500 to support this scheme I’m looking into ways to develop this further.

We also have plans to offer a bursary to Sixth Form (ages 17+) children here at St Peter’s School to enable students to travel to work at a place where we have established connections. That could be very popular and a bit ground-breaking, so let’s see what the future holds. I’m keen to find out what our potential as a truly connected, outward-looking and globally-minded school is.

Take our quick self-assessment to find out if your school qualifies for a Global School Award.