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Published on 30th November 2017
Between the 14th and 21st October 2017, I visited China on a senior leader delegation from Nottingham to the city of Ningbo. The purpose of the visit was to establish links with a secondary school in China and to explore the differences between the education systems in England and China.
The trip was fascinating and it was a privilege to partake in such a wide range of cultural and educational experiences.
Before arriving in Ningbo we were taken on a site-seeing tour of Shanghai; visiting traditional temples and sampling a range of local foods. In the evening we attended a banquet at which a formal gift exchange between Fernwood and the Ningbo Education Bureau took place. The gifts were a symbol of our pledge to work in partnership in the future.
Our journey by bus to Ningbo the next day took us over one of the world’s longest bridges, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, at over 22 miles long. On arrival in Ningbo we were whisked off to visit the Ningbo Education Museum and the Tianyige Library; both were fascinating and gave a sense of how important education is to the people of Ningbo.
On our second day in Ningbo, we attended an education forum at which I delivered a presentation to the Ningbo Education Bureau about Fernwood. It was a very formal event at which we signed our pledge to our sister school, Ningbo No. 2 High School. I met with a senior leader from our sister school and exchanged gifts from Fernwood to Ningbo No. 2 High School. In the afternoon, we visited the Ningbo campus of Nottingham University and met with staff from the Confucius Institute.
The next day was the day we had all been waiting for; the visit to our sister school. It was fascinating. Part of the school is on a lake (Moon Lake) and the students at Ningbo No.2 High School go for a run around the lake every break time. I can honestly say it is a moment I will never forget. The highlight of my week was teaching a class of 46 teenagers who had so many fascinating questions about life in England and our education system. They were a delight and I even got a round of applause for my lesson!
Over lunch with the senior leadership team from Ningbo No.2 High School, we discovered so many things that our schools have in common. The ethos of the schools is very similar. We discussed future partnerships and shared contact details.
The next morning we left Ningbo for Shanghai on a high speed train. We travelled at over 300km an hour! Our final evening in Shanghai left time to explore the city by night; a truly magical experience.
As we left Shanghai on our final morning, it was tinged with sadness. The group of senior leaders from Nottingham schools had bonded over the course of the week and I’m sure that long term friendships will have been made.
The experience was incredible from start to finish and provided so many once in a lifetime moments.
Since returning to school I have been into assemblies to talk about the trip; liaised with the Confucius Institute at Nottingham University and been in regular contact with our sister school in Ningbo. We hope that students and teachers from our sister school will visit Fernwood in 2018 and that we will have the opportunity to make a return visit to China in the future.
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