Joint venture lets pupils study in China

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The Independent Online

The Government's flagship trust schools initiative is winning international support, with a Chinese University becoming the latest partner to link up with a comprehensive school.

The 1,000-pupil South Wolds community school in Nottingham is going into partnership with Nottingham University and its sister university in Shanghai, the Chinese Ningbo University, to form a new trust school.

Six Chinese students will spend two years in the sixth form at Nottingham studying A-levels or the International Baccalaureate as a prelude to studying for a degree at Nottingham University. The school hopes to arrange a similar exchange for its own pupils or work experience in China, plus regular staff exchanges between the institutions.

In addition, South Wolds – a specialist language college which already recruits international students from Germany, Japan and the United States into its sixth form – is planning to put lessons in Mandarin on its timetable from September.

"It's all about developing cultural links," said the headteacher, Simon Dennis. "The Chinese students will have the opportunity to further their English before they start their university courses."

Christine Ennew, Nottingham University's pro-vice-chancellor for internationalisation, added: "The university is keen to support innovations such as the one proposed by South Wold which would further cement the strong educational links between Nottingham and China."

Ministers want secondary schools to develop partnerships with universities and businesses so they can use their expertise to develop the curriculum and what is on offer for pupils.

So far 30 have been established with a further 170 working towards become trust schools. A further 140 have already applied to become trusts.

South Wolds, which will have two other partners – the British Geological Society (BGS) and Skillsforce, a British company – is aiming to become a trust school from 1 April. Its plans are set to go out for consultation tomorrow.

As part of its links with the BGS, it is planning to get its pupils to study the impact of climate change across the world – focusing on China, Japan, North America and the UK.

Trust schools are a sort of halfway house between mainstream comprehensives and the Government's privately sponsored academies – being set up to replace struggling inner-city comprehensives. Trust partners are represented on a school's governing body and can have a say in the running of the school. However, they do not have to fork out sponsorship – giving their contribution "in kind" in terms of education services instead.

The Chinese Ningbo University was set up as a subsidiary of Nottingham University in acknowledgement of the growing demand by Chinese students to study for UK-styledegree courses.

Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, said: "I want every secondary school to be a specialist school, a trust school or an academy – and every one of them should have a university or business partner."