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LEEDS REACHES EUROPEAN GOLD STANDARD FOR SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS

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Leeds City Council has received a Golden Star award from the European Commission for its educational partnership wo...
Leeds City Council has received a Golden Star award from the European Commission for its educational partnership work with Brno in the Czech Republic.

Each year the European Commission selects a number of outstanding town-twinning projects from throughout Europe that they feel have contributed in a special way to European integration.

This year Leeds beat off stiff competition from nearly 1,500 other projects to receive just one of five Golden Star awards, and is the only UK city to be successful.

Leeds was chosen for a project which began in 2004 called 'Fostering Educational Partnerships between Leeds and Brno'.

Richard Harker, support executive member for children's services, said:

'Leeds is committed to maximising its twinning relationships to create sustainable benefits for our residents. This project has opened up new avenues for professional development to our teachers, as well as offering new horizons for students at all ages and providing a long term impact.

'I am delighted that Leeds has been recognised at a European level.'

The project, funded by the European Commission, saw 18 teachers from Brno and Utrecht in the Netherlands visit Leeds for a conference on personalised learning in October 2004. The teachers joined together at Hillcrest Primary School in Leeds to exchange good practice and compare how they use personalised learning in their different education systems.

The teachers also spent two days at primary and secondary schools across Leeds where they observed classes, met staff and students and discussed joint curriculum projects. As a result, new school partnerships were set up, which means the project has had a longer term impact. In October 2005, Brno also hosted a return visit and conference for Leeds teachers.

One of the schools to benefit from this project is Brigshaw High School and Language College in Allerton Bywater, who established a link with a Brno school called Videnska Gymnazium Brno following the return visit to the city. Teachers and students from Brigshaw have taken part in several exchanges with their partner school since 2004. The schools have established special musical links, and the schools' choirs have performed at special events in each city. Students from Brno first visited Brigshaw as part of the Breeze festival in 2005 where they composed a piece of music that was performed at Leeds Town Hall. Brigshaw students made a return visit to perform at a similar event in Brno.

Martin Truscott, team leader for the creative arts and sports at Brigshaw High School and Language College, said:

'Our partnership with Videnska Gymnazium has been invaluable for our students and has enabled them to become much more aware of other cultures and have much greater understanding other musical styles.

'Our visit to Brno was the first time our students have been able to go abroad on a musical trip and performing at such a grand event gave them a great sense of achievement.'

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