School’s China trip described as life-changing

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An opportunity to experience the Chinese educational system for pupils in Great Cornard has been described as life-changing.

The cultural 10-day visit was organised by Thomas Gainsborough School as part of a growing link-up with Changzhou No.5 High School.

Matthew Gibson, deputy headteacher who organised the trip with colleague Lisa Magowan, said the students benefitted from learning about the cultural differences in and out of the classroom.

“It was about showcasing a different way of life and hopefully leading to more formal links with the sharing of ideas, cultural awareness and the chance to connect to students in different parts of the world,” said Mr Gibson.

A group of 20 students, aged between 12 and 18, spent 10 days in Beijing and Shanghai visiting sights such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Oriental Pearl Tower.

Mr Gibson, who now hopes to organise a return trip for Chinese students to visit Great Cornard, said: “Education was a real eye-opener for the students and we watched an entire school take part in a coordinated exercise to music, which was just fantastic.

“There was also a real contrast in class sizes, in China they are about 50 children, and also the length of the school day, from 7.30am until 5.30pm.

“Travel was also very different. We spent 16 hours and travelled 1,400km, on an overnight train to Shanghai.”

“The whole trip was incredibly successful and the students got so much out of it, it was life-changing.”