Now entering its 8th year, Strode College’s link with the city of Yueyang has been described by the British Council in Beijing as the best example of an effective and durable UK-China partnership.
The college has led curriculum projects and international exchanges on behalf of almost 30 local primary and secondary schools and this has made a significant contribution to the cultural awareness of a whole generation of young people. Visits to Yueyang have taken place annually and Somerset has also welcomed arrivals from Chinese students and teachers on a regular basis.
Of the Somerset-Yueyang Partnership’s many achievements, the most positive impact has possibly been made by the widespread introduction of Mandarin lessons to state schools. Developed with the University of Southampton, this initiative built on the cultural benefits of the programme by providing a valuable life skill and increased employability to students of all backgrounds. From reception-age children singing Chinese songs to Strode students increasing their attractiveness to top universities with a world language, Chinese language teaching has been spread across the county.
The influence of the partnership has also extended out into the community with regular adult education classes and weekly lessons for staff at footwear company Clarks.