Italian honour for Newport school
A BARNSTAPLE primary school will be honoured by the Italian Government at a special ceremony in Rome this week. Newport Community School has been recognised by the country s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research for its work promoting foreign l
A BARNSTAPLE primary school will be honoured by the Italian Government at a special ceremony in Rome this week.
Newport Community School has been recognised by the country's Ministry of Education, Universities and Research for its work promoting foreign languages and cultures.
Italian education minister Maria Grazia Nardiello will present the school with a "Changing Schools in Europe" award in recognition of the role it has played in forging links between the towns of Barnstaple and Susa, in North West Italy.
Children from both countries have been visiting each other's schools since 2001, a relationship that has influenced direct links between the areas' national parks, Petroc and the University of Turin, as well as the formal twinning of Barnstaple and Susa.
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Head teacher Andy Cotton and assistant head teacher Frances Bell were set to fly to the Italian capital today (Wednesday) to join Susa teacher Anna Giaccone of the Circolo Didattico at a national convention dedicated to schools and teaching.
"It's a really great honour to be recognised for any award but particularly special and quite unique to receive one from a government overseas," Mr Cotton told the Gazette.
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"It's a great honour to represent the Newport community and 10 years of work put in by a great many people to develop our relationship with schools and people in the Susa valley.
"Work overseas has to be fundamental in understanding each other and helping our children to grow up in a world that is more aware and accepting of our differences and similarities.
"North Devon is relatively geographically isolated from the rest of the country and it's very important that our children get the opportunity to experience other cultures.
"The project has received no funding but has impacted on our children hugely. It's been about people wanting to do it rather than having to do it and I think the award recognises the passion behind the project."
As representatives of one of the five international projects being recognised by the Italian Government, the Barnstaple teachers will share ideas with ministerial education policy makers at this week's convention.
"It's exciting to think that the work we have done at Newport really could help to improve and affect the way that education is delivered in schools in Italy," said Mrs Bell, whose friendship with Susa teacher Anna Giaccone sparked the relationship between the two towns nearly 10 years ago.
"It started with two ordinary women teachers who believe very strongly in educational links and in making a big difference in young people's lives. The whole project has been about ordinary people meeting ordinary people and it's been fantastic to help make that happen.
"People from Susa and Barnstaple have been visiting each other's town for nine years now and the exchanges have involved thousands of people, at the last count, 140 families on each side.
"Visiting other countries and experiencing foreign cultures helps children to develop skills such as openness and friendliness.
"It's such a big honour for us to receive this award as I understand that it's the first time a UK project like this has ever been recognised by the Italian Government.