Learning, friendship and fun in successful education link through Broadstairs English Centre

Friends from Ramsgate and Bangkok

By Peter Barnett

Thanet is at the heart of an important learning journey exploring culture, heritage and educational for international and local students.

The ‘immersion in education’ initiative run by Broadstairs English Centre has been successfully giving young people from around the world an exciting opportunity to explore life in local primary and secondary schools.

And the benefits for local pupils has been just as far-reaching, creating long-distance and long-term friendships and connections while comparing and contrasting each other’s lifestyles.

The latest BEC education initiative saw a party of 19 Thai students from Suankularb Wittayalai boys’ school in Bangkok spend nine days sharing a vibrant educational experience with pupils at Chatham and Clarendon House Grammar in Ramsgate.

They quickly formed buddy partnerships with boys in Years 7 and 8 who guided them through their days experiencing lessons, break and lunchtimes and other activities.

Debra Liddicoat, Headteacher at Chatham and Clarendon House, which flew the Thai flag in the school grounds during the stay, said: “We were delighted to host our visitors from Thailand for nine days – our boys took them to all their lessons, explained the English school system, encouraged them to improve their confidence in speaking English, welcomed them into their form and generally were their friend during their stay.

“Our students took their responsibilities very seriously and I am sure their friendship made their stay at the school all the more successful. The Thai students were a pleasure to host. They were polite and respectful, taking a keen interest in lessons, volunteering answers and participating in class and attending clubs on offer at lunchtime.

“Our visitors prepared presentations about their homeland to deliver to their buddies in form time. I have no doubt that all students involved have benefitted from the cultural exchange.”

Thai teachers Paritchaya Tichapan and Jitlada Rungruang said the immersion project is “a fantastic chance to integrate into school life and with host families” and added: “Our students had a rewarding time with their buddy pupils, discovering so much about the English education system. They made good friends, comparing and contrasting each other’s lives, and we are certain they will be keeping in contact. They will make presentations to their fellow classmates about their visit when they return to Thailand.”

Andy Somers, who has experience working with international students around the world, is Immersion School Liaison Officer for the programme. He said: “This expanding project is critical in broadening life and learning experiences for children locally and those we work with from around the world.

“It is increasing in popularity with more visits planned in the coming months from Thailand, Spain, Italy and Czechia. It is clear to see the benefits both sets of students gain from this liaison, broadening their horizons while developing and sharing language and social skills together.”

The Thai group also enjoyed cultural trips to London and Canterbury as well as a range of activities run by the BEC.

Broadstairs English Centre is still the number one year-round young learners’ school in the UK, as ranked by the El Gazette based on their most recent British Council Inspection.