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International School Status

Plymouth High School first achieved the British Council’s International School Award in October 2006. International School Accreditation is a prestigious award given to schools that have shown a commitment to international activities across the curriculum and have developed strong partnerships with schools in other countries. The city of Plymouth has gained attention as the first city in England in which all secondary schools have achieved at least the Foundation Certificate Award. PHSG’s re-accreditation in 2012/13 marked the third time it has attained the full award.

Plymouth High School has established substantial links with schools in Ghana, China, New Zealand, Germany, and India. These links are fostered by the activities of the International Group.

International Group

International Group was started in 2004 by Mrs Rainsford-McMahon who taught French at Plymouth High. She was very aware as a language teacher that an increasing number of our students have English as a second language; although these girls were often very gifted they rarely had a high profile in the school. She was determined to put this right and launched the International Group with a very moving assembly led by girls from 10 different countries.

This led to a lunch time club that still exists today, but has evolved over time to become more inclusive. With the aim of fostering a greater understanding of foreign cultures in all of our students, anyone is now welcome to attend. The International Group gives students the opportunity to experience the culture of other countries through music, food, maps, communication opportunities and technology.

A variety of projects are under way to this end. We currently have a ‘pen pal’ project with a school in India. Students are ‘skyping’ in addition to more traditional methods of communication, allowing a much more exciting and direct interaction. Our recycling project is allowing students to look at the ways other countries deal with waste disposal and recycling and the cultural differences that lead to these methods. We are also working towards holding an International Picnic this summer.

Students from PHSG have also participated in the HSBC/British Council National Chinese Speaking Competition with our team reaching the finals at the British Museum in London last year. We have recently received our place to take part in this year’s heats and will have an entry into the individual performance category for the second time, along with our group entry for the third time. We are lucky to be part of the Peninsular Group Confucius Classroom group which consists of six schools in Devon and Cornwall. Every year, we have 2 Hanban teachers working with our students once a week as well as Chinese teaching assistants from City College. We have developed a link with Jiaxing No.1 High School after a visit to the school by Miss Utton as part of a delegation from Plymouth in 2011. We are currently exploring links with a second establishment called Jiaxing Foreign Language School. Finally, we are hoping that up to 15 of our current GCSE Chinese students may be able to take part in a Chinese summer camp next July/August for 2 weeks.