Maffra Secondary College has documented their Engage with Asia policy to staff, parents and the school council as a way of identifying progress made and their vision for the future. This enables the work to be built on by others over time and is a means of ensuring sustainability. Asia literacy is also included in their Annual Implementation Plan, the curriculum and in other planning documents so that it is an integral part of the program at the college.
Vision and ethos
Many teachers and principals referred to school ethos as something that they wanted to see infused with an internationalised approach to education and/or Asia literacy. They saw this as a way of making a statement about who they were to the outside world and themselves, of ensuring that internationalisation or Asia literacy was something substantial and sustainable that affected many aspects of school life. A range of tools and means was used to create or affect the ethos, including the use of planning documents, people-to-people contacts with the sister school, the visual ambience and displays of the schools and the support of the school community. Respondents spoke of wanting to develop an 'international mindset' in teachers and students.
Whole school change
The overseas professional learning experiences of participants and the establishment of the sister school partnerships established during the program has driven whole school change.
The whole school changes included:
Birmingham Primary School has a global engagement committee that leads change across the school. This group has audited the curriculum and Asia literacy is now a key element across most curriculum areas.
Sister school partnerships
Sister schools played a significant role in almost every aspect of the Overseas Study Program in-school activity and were consistently identified by participants as one of the most important catalysts of change. These connections between schools and the opportunities for learning they provide are especially significant for rural schools and those that otherwise have no or little contact with cultures from Asia. Respondents from schools with parent communities from Asian countries also identified that their schools had stronger connections with, and understanding of, these groups.
Nearly a third of Overseas Study Program schools had visited or received visits from sister schools, or had forthcoming visits to or from sister schools planned. In some cases these visits had become a regular part of the program and involved teachers, students and parents.
Sister school connections enabled collaborative projects for teachers and students between Gippsland schools and those in Jiangsu Province. They also enabled the development of intercultural skills that Jiangsu bureau officers see as core qualifications for future leaders.