Newcastle schools rewarded for their international work

Thirty four schools in the city have received a British Council International School Award (ISA).
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Paper birds created as part of the North East Festival of Languages paper cranes project, displayed in the windows of the Arches Reception at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Thirty four Newcastle schools have been awarded British Council’s International School Award (ISA) Foundation Certificate, which celebrates efforts to create an international ethos within schools. 

The awards were given to the schools for participating in the 2024 Express Yourself: North East Festival of Languages.  

The City Council, International Newcastle and British Council’s ISA Team have been working together for a number of years to support the city’s schools to start their ISA journey and also to progress through the ISA levels, which see more international collaborations and activities delivered within schools. With these additional schools, there are now 59 Newcastle schools with an International School Award.

The fourth annual Festival was a great way to get more schools involved in the ISA, which provides a framework for schools to build internationalism across the curriculum.  

The annual Festival, hosted by International Newcastle and supported by Newcastle City Council and a wide range of local, regional and national partners, provides free opportunities for children and young people in schools, community schools and groups to try new and creative ways to celebrate diverse languages and cultures. 

37,633 children and young people took part in the Festival from January to March, the biggest yet.

Festival activities in March this year included live in person events on world cultures and languages, language taster sessions with universities, language and careers webinars and pre-recorded activities for schools in different languages (puppet shows, stories, classroom activities and games). 

There were also three large scale creative projects: 

  • The festival song (Happy) where schools and groups were invited to sing, sign, play, perform in different languages
  • Mother Tongue Other Tongue, a celebration of children’s writing in their home language or languages they are learning
  • the Peace Cranes project, where children created colourful, origami birds with messages in different languages, as part of a region-wide and world-wide celebration of peace. 

The British Council agreed with International Newcastle and the City Council that Newcastle and North East schools who registered for one or more of the activities would automatically achieve the ISA Foundation Certificate once they had completed these. 

In total 169 schools were awarded the certificate of the 206 North East schools who took part in the Festival.  Others had already achieved the award.  

Mark Patton, Assistant Director, Education and Skills, Newcastle City Council said : “It is fantastic that so many of our schools hold this award and we are committed to continuing to support creative ways to educate the city’s children and young people about other cultures. 

"We would encourage all schools and community groups to take part in this festival next year to further develop our young people’s skills and confidence for their future in a global society.” 

Declan Baharini, Chief Executive Officer, International Newcastle and Co-ordinator of Express Yourself: North East Festival of Languages said: “This is a fantastic achievement for schools in Newcastle and across the North East. 

"We are grateful to the British Council for their support and enabling so many schools to start their ISA journey.  

"Exploring different languages and cultures is an important part of helping children and young people understand and appreciate the wider world and spark their curiosity to learn more. 

"In Newcastle, we will continue to support schools to progress through the ISA levels and internationalise their curriculum.”

Irina Gecheva, Manager International School Award for the British Council said: “The British Council’s International School Award (ISA) team is excited to be collaborating with International Newcastle and the North East Festival of Languages. 

"We are proud of the schools that have participated in the festival events. We commend their dedication to opening their classrooms to internationalism and broadening the global knowledge of their pupils. 

"All schools who have achieved the International School Award Foundation Certificate are welcome to contact the ISA team to get more information on how to move to the next level of the award.”

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