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Banksia Park International High School SA

Building intercultural understanding

Banksia Park International High School, in north-east Adelaide, hosts international students from Asia. However, the region barely featured in the school’s curriculum and levels of intercultural understanding across the school were low.

In cooperation with one of its feeder primary schools, Ridgehaven Primary School, Banksia Park International High School implemented strategies that have tackled both issues.

Strategies used to build Asia capability

With the help of visiting international students, students and staff from both Banksia Park and Ridgehaven built an ‘Intercultural Understanding of Asia’ garden at Banksia Park. Featuring both Australian native as well as Asian plants, including permanent art works, the garden project helped international and local students interact, boosting levels of cooperation and understanding. It provided Asia-focused learning opportunities across multiple subject areas including Mathematics, Science and Design.

Other strategies used to encourage intercultural understanding and build enthusiasm was the garden project and Japanese kite-making day. These activities involved all including the international students the community. The publication of a fortnightly newsletter kept everyone informed of progress.

Engaging students using ICT

An iPad, iTouch and Kindles were purchased for each learning area in Years 6, 7 and 8 to encourage the development of Asia capability. Students were encouraged to use apps and websites to expand their knowledge of Asia.

Banksia Park’s ISEC (Intensive Secondary English Course) teacher, Brooke Garrett says the benefits of building an ‘Intercultural Understanding of Asia’ garden have been significant.

“The engagement of students has totally changed with co-learning and new Asia-focused topics. Asia was irrelevant, now it’s a curriculum priority. It’s automatic now that staff add Asia capability to the fabric of unit design. It’s not an add-on anymore. There’s more of an interest in international students, and parents are very supportive. It’s been terrific—it’s become so much bigger than anyone expected.”

Similarly, the use of ICT has been positive, with students using apps to enhance and share their learning.

“The students are much more engaged in learning about Asia. The technology has given them autonomy and enthusiasm—they are even going home in their own time to write on the school’s wiki.”


Banksia Park International High School and Ridgehaven Primary School were innovative in building intercultural understanding across their whole school communities.

Keys to success have been good communication. For both schools, Principal and staff briefings, professional development seminars and a fortnightly newsletter for parents, have ensured all the school’s stakeholders were informed throughout the process.

A significant achievement of the cross-age project was support provided to the transition experience for Years 6 and 7 Ridgehaven Primary students who will enter Banksia Park in Year 8. 

The garden project acted as a bridge, providing opportunities for Years 6 and 7 students to connect with their new high school in a positive way. Students are working more in a mentoring, collaborative way when they have a garden glove on,” says Brooke. Meanwhile, the garden has really engaged the wider school and local communities.

“Even the garden and maintenance guys are totally engaged in the program—it’s a whole school project. People who would never have even spoken before now meet regularly.”

Funding the project

Both the development of the ‘Intercultural Understanding of Asia’ garden and the purchase of ICT devices were funded by the Federal Government’s Becoming Asia Literate Grants

Banksia Park received donations and sponsorships for the garden from local businesses.

Principal, Lyndall Bain, participated in the 2008-09 Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia professional learning programme.


Images: AEF

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