SCHOOLS across Sunderland have been playing host to a delegation of Chinese visitors as part of an educational exchange.
The four visitors – two headteachers and two education officials – are from the northern Chinese city of Harbin, which is Wearside’s partner city.
Exchange visits and joint projects between schools in the two cities have flourished and Sunderland staff and pupils have travelled to China several times.
As well as taking part in exchange visits, schools in both cities have organised cultural and language activities for their learners. In Sunderland these have included Mandarin language lessons and events to mark cultural festivals such as Chinese New Year.
This latest visit, which is partly funded by the British Council, was another opportunity for colleagues and pupils to meet and work with representatives from their Chinese partners.
The delegation visited Portland Academy to meet young people from there and other schools who have visited Harbin and to gain an overview of some of the partnership work.
Rebecca Cummins, Portland’s China activity lead, said: “Portland Academy has been delighted to be a part of the Sunderland-Harbin schools partnership from the start. Our relationship with Harbin Deaf and Blind School and the wider cluster in Harbin has brought so much to both our staff and learners.
“We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to visit our partner school and city as well as to host visits like this one and the pupils have been really enthusiastic about the joint project work that we have shared.”
The Chinese delegation is headed by Mr Junming Bai, the Deputy Director of Harbin Education Bureau, who said: “We have enjoyed a wonderful visit to our sister city of Sunderland and been very warmly received.
“It has been very rewarding to see some of the work ongoing in Sunderland related to the partnership with our own city. Meeting with the staff and young people who have worked directly with colleagues in Harbin and travelled to our city has allowed us to see first-hand the benefits that this partnership brings to learners and staff here in Sunderland just as it does to those in Harbin.”
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “Sunderland’s partnership with Harbin is extremely important to us and a relationship which we value very highly.”
While in the city the delegates took part in a number of school activities including observing teaching, school assemblies, Carol services and Christmas markets.
They also took time out to visit the Museum and Winter Gardens, the National Glass Centre and Beamish.