How can local transport infrastructure be made more sustainable and environmentally friendly? Partner schools The Dukeries Academy and Gesamtschule Rheydt-Mülfort took part in a cross-curricular project involving their local communities to investigate.
Wie kann die lokale Transportinfrastruktur nachhaltiger und umweltfreundlicher gemacht werden? Die Partnerschulen The Dukeries Academy und die Gesamtschule Rheydt-Mülfort nahmen an einem Projekt teil, das die lokale Gemeinschaft zum Nachforschen anregt und über den Rahmen des Lehrplans hinausgeht.
Sustainable project, sustainable partnership
The Dukeries Academy and Gesamtschule Rheydt-Mülfort met to investigate the sustainability and inclusivity of the transport infrastructure within their local areas: "The purpose of the project was sustainability, not only in environmental terms, but also for the contact between the Dukeries and Gesamtschule Rheydt-Mülfort" (UK teacher). We wanted pupils to work together in both languages towards a common target to increase their social, civic and language competences. Developing an awareness towards people with special needs and environmental problems in relation to their local transport infrastructure would in turn raise knowledge, acceptance and tolerance of other cultures and values.
Time to investigate
Initial research into the historical background of their local transport networks began, incorporating visits to the British Rail Museum and the Museum of Early Industrialisation in Wuppertal to find out how transport networks in their local areas have developed over the years. After many Skype conferences with their counterparts to present their findings, students collaborated on a joint survey of the general public about current transport habits and even got their local primary schools involved to help collect the data. During the exchange itself, students put their language skills to the test to find out the public’s views on how to make local transport more environmentally friendly, sustainable and inclusive. The pupils presented their results in both countries using posters, PowerPoint presentations and speeches in their respective languages. By having to survey, evaluate and present their work, pupils were able to broaden their skills in many fields.
A renewed enthusiasm
The project has had an enormous impact on pupils from The Dukeries Academy. German is now back on the map! The exchange has become a regular feature, German A-level is now firmly back on the curriculum, and Year 7 pupils are communicating with pupils from the partner school by email and letter. Other pupils who did not participate in the exchange have even started communicating with the pupils from our partner school. This renewed enthusiasm has sparked ideas of a new exchange in the sixth form which will enable pupils from both schools to be taught at each institution for six weeks to enable them to improve their language skills and cement the exchange even further.
Despite the school being in a rural location with poor public transport links, the project has given the pupils the opportunity to sample life in larger cities, work with pupils from more diverse backgrounds and pupils from other countries. The community has also seen massive benefits from the repeat visits; in fact, Newark and Sherwood Council are reprinting German tourist guides on the area due to the increased demand.
- Try and find a project idea that is meaningful for the pupils.
- Try and involve the pupils from the beginning by finding ways of getting in touch with the partners beforehand.
- Involve the pupils in planning the project visits so that it is their project.
- Plan a meticulous programme with opportunities for the leaders and for the pupils to spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere to get to know each other, exchange information and ideas.
- Inform the pupils that they will have to evaluate and present their results not only in front of the school and authorities but also after the visits for the organisation from which we receive the grant money. (They often think that it is all over when they are home and it is sometimes difficult to bring them to finish this part of the project).
"An opportunity like this really develops your confidence and allows you to improve your language in a fun and enjoyable way." (UK participant)
"Other pupils who did not participate in the exchange have even started communicating with the pupils from our partner school." (UK teacher)