The bond between children in Newcastle and its German counterpart was strengthened when teachers from two schools got together to celebrate a newly formed partnership. Anthony Kennedy, Deputy Headteacher at English Martyrs’ Catholic Primary, travelled to Gelsenkirchen, Germany, with colleagues Abi Madsen and Sarah Bridgewood to meet the team at Regenbogenschule, or ‘Rainbow School’.
The schools had previously formed a partnership to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the twinning of their towns, with children from each school creating a collaborative piece of art to exchange with the other to mark the occasion.
“We exchanged art work during a visit to the Mayor’s office,” said Mr Kennedy. “I think it demonstrates a collaborative approach to learning, and the themes of love, peace and unity are threaded throughout, which fits perfectly with the 75th anniversary of our twinning, as well as the foundations for our new partnership. There was also an official signing of a partnership agreement, where we made a commitment to working together – this was overseen by the Mayor and the Head of Education for the city.”
The visitors were shown around Rainbow School by Partnership Agreement co-signatory and English teacher Melanie Zimmerman, where they observed the teaching of both English and German, and were able to plan future partnership projects and themes, as well as a visit to Newcastle for Rainbow School staff.
They also spent time at Leibniz-Gymnasium, a secondary school where they worked with 16- and 17-year-old students and discussed the benefits of learning languages.
“The pupils shared experiences of their own visit to Newcastle in August, and asked questions about England, Newcastle, and our thoughts about Gelsenkirchen,” continued Mr Kennedy.
“Some pupils also presented coursework which had a focus on Newcastle – exploring culture, landmarks and the geography of the north east. We were also given a tour of the school, enjoyed cake made by parents, and were given a musical performance by a pupil who is an award-winning flute player.”
Besides the two schools, the group from English Martyrs’, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, visited a college where students had undertaken a summer art project based on the twinned towns.
“The students chose their own medium to compare Newcastle and their own city of Gelsenkirchen,” explained Mr Kennedy. “This was through digital media and photography, painting, sculpture, poetry and drama. We were invited to view the exhibition and speak to the students about their inspiration.”
Other visits during the four-day trip included the Veltins Arena football stadium, Zollverein coal mine museum, and the zoo, with a view to returning with pupils from English Martyrs’ in the future.
“The link is not just about academic collaboration – it is about friendship, understanding, and building bridges across borders,” added Mr Kennedy. “It is about fostering a sense of global citizenship within our school community, where students learn to appreciate their own culture while respecting and embracing the cultures of others. In a similar way to our cities’ historic twinning, this agreement is not just a symbolic gesture – it is a commitment to collaboration, cultural exchange and mutual support. We look forward to welcoming Rainbow School to Newcastle in the near future to experience our north-eastern hospitality.”
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