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Chinese Partnership

Over the past 30 years Essex has developed enduring relationships with Jiangsu Province in China, helping to deliver successful collaboration and tangible results in the areas of education, culture, sport, trade, investment, science and technology, health and social care, environment protection and sustainable development. 

International links between schools can be hugely beneficial to both teachers and pupils. By taking participating in partnership work, we hope that it will help bridge geographical boundaries to spark interaction between classrooms and open up new understanding of societies, languages and cultures around the world, particularly for our children at Kendall. Our teachers will also benefit professionally through learning about partner school's approaches to teaching and learning and their achievements. We also believe that this opportunity will give our young people a chance to develop the skills and understanding they need to thrive in a global society. 

The Jiangsu Forum

The Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education, the Jiangsu Education Services for International Exchange and Nantong Municipal Bureau of Education are hosting a Forum which is designed for school leaders of primary and secondary schools intending to develop partnership links with schools in Jiangsu and provides a platform for school leaders from all around the world to communicate, share and network. The forum will welcome a total of 200 guests from China and 120 guests from overseas (e.g. UK and other European countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc). 

Jiangsu is a district in the East of China.

The Forum has been held in Jiangsu and different cities around the world for over 10 years with the purpose of promoting school partnerships, teacher and student exchanges, opportunities for professional development and sharing of good educational practices, curriculum and resources. This year, the theme of the forum will be ‘Creating Equity and Excellence in Basic Education’. 

As part of the delegation of Essex Headteachers, our Headteacher (Mrs French) has been selected to attend the Forum in Nantong City and prior to this. She will be working with the teachers at our new Chinese partner school Jingjiang Binjiang School (school name in Chinese: 靖江滨江学校) situated in Taizhou City, in the Jiangsu Province of China. With her, she will be taking the wonderful artwork that our children have created this week of the famous landmarks of Colchester and London, for her hosts to display in their school along with information about how our students learn at Kendall. During her visit she hopes to learn a lot about ways that we can work together in partnership with the Jingjiang Binjiang School, through a range of shared class-based projects. You can find regular updates from Mrs French throughout next week on the right-hand side of this page.

Mrs French's Journey to Jiangsu

Sunday 4th November

Nǐ hǎo – that is Chinese (written in pinyin) for Hello!

After nearly a 12 hour flight, I finally touched down at Shanghai airport. Once I arrived, I was able to briefly meet the other headteachers on the delegation from Essex before being whisked away by my host Ms Liu. After something to eat, I was lucky enough to visit an ancient Chinese city where generations of the same family have lived for 1000 years.


I went on a boat through the canal and saw a boat of cormorants trained to fish for their owner. They have rings around their necks to stop them swallowing the fish whole. Their reward for catching their owner some fish is a small bit at the end of the day when the rings are taken off.


I was lucky enough to catch some Yue Opera...

We then went to a museum of the town and there were some very old Chinese children's toys on display. You could see a baby's buckle, a bit like a rattle. There were some games pieces and, most interestingly, some manners and good behaviour cards to learn from. There is one reminding you to help your sibling put their clothes away and another to remind you to clean your teeth. They reminded me of old Ladybird books.

After that I met the Principal of the school I am visiting tomorrow. She has Years 2 to 9 at her school. Hers is a small school by local standards with only 3000 pupils and 240 teachers. Another in the district has 7000 students! You just cannot grasp the sheer density of the population here compared to in Colchester. It is incredible! They took me for a meal this evening, though I longed for bed, only having had one hours sleep over the past 36 hours. They are being careful as I am vegetarian and I have discovered that picking up mushrooms with chopsticks is almost impossible! The food is put in the middle and everyone helps themselves. A local dish is a wheat-based thick (yet watery) savoury porridge. Thankfully you can eat that and the soup with a spoon!

Monday 5th November

This morning I met the the Principal (Headteacher) of our partner school and her many Vice Principals. They gave me a tour of parts of their school. We started in the Science and Technology Building. They have many extra curricular clubs that run for two periods on Friday afternoons. In computing clubs they learn to build and program cars, flying machines and robots that can find and put out fires. The school has won national awards for their robotics. The children have a science and technology lab with many hands on investigative exhibits for children to learn from including electric drums, various circuits and even a house of mirrors! They also use this space to display their own science and technology work.


I was then able to watch some children taking part in art and traditional Chinese craft classes, including Chinese calligraphy. I saw ink painting, knot tying, puzzle solving, various art classes, Peking Opera and paper cut making. I learned that they are often hung on windows for the light to shine through. I was then shown around the school art gallery.


Then I was shown around some classes. The average class size is 60. The school's moto is 'Be Your Personal Best'. The children I saw in classes this morning were doing eye exercises as they had been in school for 3 hours and it is thought to help prepare for further lessons.

I was then treated to a Welcome Ceremony that showcased both students talents and Chinese culture. Included in the ceremony were traditional dance, Taekwondo, Chinese drumming, a short play in English and a war remembrance dance. 

When I arrived this morning I was greeted by a welcoming ceremony in the school gym.

Have you ever wondered how you would manage lunch time for 3000 pupils? Well, the answer is in two sittings over two floors seating 1200 children on each floor at a time. It was very noisy! Children up to the age of 8 eat their lunch with a spoon. Older children eat with chop sticks. They don't get a choice about what food they have for lunch, they eat what they are given. They are not allowed to bring a packed lunch to school either. 

The children always behave very well in lessons and work very hard. This afternoon I was invited to watch two English lessons with many other teachers from the English department, the Principal and other official observers. I then had to give some feedback on the teaching as part of a meeting after the classes. The teaching was excellent and I was able to give them what I hope was useful feedback. In the lesson the children were taught to buy food from a 'snack bar' and they were very surprised to hear that in England we don't really use the phrase 'snack bar' but instead we might say (fast food) restaurant.   

In Year 8 the children were learning to read a poem about the seasons. They were looking at 'the beauty in the poem' which means rhyme, imagery and words. They also looked at personification.

Also this afternoon I met with the Principal and her team to discuss our co-operative partnership and our ideas to work together. After discussing plans for class-based projects and possibly further teacher and student exchanges, we both signed a Memorandum of Understanding to become 'sister schools'.  

This evening I came back to my hotel. My room is on the 11th floor. This is only half way to the top of the building. There are many high rise buildings in this new city. Jingjiang, the district in Taizhou City in the Jiangsu Provence is experiencing a massive programme of building and infrastructure development. It has had substantial government investment and is growing even quicker than Colchester! The difference is that they are constructing lots of good big roads so that people can move around easily as the population inevitably grows. The new areas of Jingjiang are only a few years old. In fact, Jingjiang Binjiang School opened in 2012 and cost 410,000,000 yuan which is £46,330,000 and has many state of the art facilities. 

Tuesday 6th November

Today I moved to my new hotel. In my Nantong hotel I am on the 54th floor. I have never even been in a building with 54 floors before!

Headteachers from around the world came together today for a banquet to formally mark the opening of the 14th Jiangsu International Forum for School Principals. I spent some more time with our host school's principal Mdme Fang. She is a very good English speaker and is helping me to translate.

Wednesday 7th November

Today I attended "The 14th Jiangsu International Forum for International Principals" which consisted of many international guest speakers, followed by a panel discussion that I contributed to which focused on 'Enriching the concept of Quality in School Education'.

Following the forum there was a 'Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony'. This was signed by me on behalf of Kendall CE Primary School and by Fang Yongmei on behalf of our new sister school, Jingjiang Binjiang School. 

Thursday 8th November

Today we visited another school. This time in Nangton City - the oldest state school in China. This was attended by other delegates attending the forum and included headteachers from Spain, Finland, Canada, The Netherlands and Australia. Once again we were treated to an arrival ceremony, where their orchestra played for us and we saw some beautiful work by the students.

Then we went to a Hot Pot restaurant where you choose your dishes and cook them at your table. The customer service was amazing. After dinner we went on a boat trip around a 1000 year old moat that surrounds the old part of Nangton City. It was beautifully lit up. 


China is looking to make sustainable partnerships with schools and businesses across the world to develop their prosperity and gain a deeper understanding of the global community. I feel very privileged and honoured to have had the opportunity to visit China, meet its wonderful people and experience its amazing culture first-hand. I hope that having a sister school in China will be of benefit to the students of both Jingjiang Binjiang School and Kendall CE Primary School and I look forward to welcoming our new Chinese friends to England and introducing you to them very soon.