Hampshire head teachers make visit to China
A TEAM of Hampshire head teachers have been visiting China to establish links with schools and to help develop the Chinese education system.
The eight strong team, who were led by Horndean Technology College headteacher Julie Summerfield, spent a week in the city of Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong. Julie was joined by three other headteachers and four teaching staff from four other schools.
While the team delivered a series of presentations to some of the country’s leading educationalists about the UK’s education system, it was actually the Chinese system which made a lasting impression on Julie and other head teachers.
Julie said: ‘The amount of money being invested in education in Shenzhen is amazing. The facilities and extra-curricular provision is fantastic. The amount of money to enrich every child’s education is far better than I receive here. The sports facilities are fantastic with every school having its own Olympic size running track and every child gets the opportunity to play an instrument.’
However it’s not just on the issue of funding which Julie feels lessons can be learnt.
‘Chinese families and children place a real value on education and the status given to teachers is far higher than experienced here. State governments are investing a lot of money into teacher training and it’s seen as a desirable profession, unlike the situation here where schools are struggling to recruit. The value placed on education is something our government need to wake up to,’ she added.
The visit came about after a number of Chinese children visited schools in Hampshire, including Horndean, as part of an initiative by Southampton education consultancy company, Opportunity Education, who aim to create a global collaborative approach to education.
Julie said: ‘All of our schools have partnered up with one of the schools we visited. One of the aims is to have themed weeks, such as the recent space week, in which children from both schools can work on similar projects. We also hope to welcome more Chinese students next year. While it would be good for Hampshire students to go out to Shenzhen there are currently no plans as the cost would be prohibitive. In China these visits are subsidised by the state government.’
The lasting memory Julie will take from China is the warmth of the welcome she and the other teachers received.
‘We were treat like celebrities. We ended up in the Chinese papers and on television and one of the schools we visited even laid out a red carpet,’ she said.