Wisbech Grammar School unveils its ‘international strategy’ and this year will welcome its first Chinese students to study in the Fens

Chris Staley (right) the head of Wisbech Grammar School has inveiled an international stratgey that

Chris Staley (right) the head of Wisbech Grammar School has inveiled an international stratgey that includes welcoming Chinese students to study in the Fens from this year. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A Wisbech headmaster’s Far East trip last year has resulted in the first group of Chinese students coming here to study this September.

Chris Staley, the head of Wisbech Grammar School, has won approval from the governors to launch an international strategy.

He describes the introduction of overseas pupils into the school as being “part of a desire to widen the outlook of our pupils and at the same time prepare them for the world in which they will ultimately work”.

The school says they received “significant” interest following the head’s visit with one Chinese student starting next month and another seven starting in September.

The school will solve accommodation problems by turning the sixth former centre into a boarding facility capable of housing up to 12 students. The Dwight Centre will switch to housing the sixth form whilst the ground floor will remain for teaching economics, business, politics and psychology.

The school will also redevelop the caretaker’s house at the front of the school. The upstairs will be converted into staff accommodation for a resident tutor to assist in the boarding life of the overseas pupils.

Downstairs will be transformed into a small medical centre to be used as and when overseas pupils are too ill to attend school and require medical assistance whilst under our care.

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Mr Staley: “These plans are transformational and progressive, and the benefits to pupils will mean they have an environment which encourages academic success, creativity and well-being.

“As the school opens its doors to overseas pupils, there will also be further opportunities for all pupils to take advantage of a school that is really ‘building for the future’”.

Other changes at the school will include the introduction of the Harkness method of teaching and learning that involves 12-14 pupils seated around a large oval table. This is to encourage pupils to discuss ideas, work collaboratively and shifts the focus away from the more traditional teacher at the front of the class, approach.

Mr Staley says the driving force is to continue to raise standards to “become a beacon of excellence for pupils”.

He said the changes would improve teaching and learning and by clustering departments into faculties it would give subjects “a clearer sense of identity and create functional zones around the campus.

“This gives the opportunity to really focus on subject areas that naturally complement and maximise opportunities across departments”.

The space currently occupied by the music department for instance will be transformed to provide a large common room and social space for the lower and upper 6th, seating 80+ pupils.

The head said: “There will be café/coffee shop style facilities in this space and the designs are not unlike a number of well-known national brand chain coffee shops you might find on a typical high street.”

A creative hub with food and nutrition and dance/drama will be “within touching distance of each other,” said Mr Staley. “Music will have a completely new space, with a facility for music technology and a Harkness room for smaller group teaching across the creative arts.”