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Overseas Study Program to Asia report


As a result of participation in the Overseas Study Program, schools have included internationalisation and Asia literacy in planning documents such as the Strategic Plan, Annual Implementation Plan and in specific internationalisation or Asia literacy policies or plans.

Program participants say that inclusion in these documents makes the area a priority for the school, and value the fact that this will entail monitoring, public accountability and budget and resource allocation. Principals and teachers also see inclusion in policy and planning documents as an important means of ensuring sustainability, raising school and community awareness and influencing school programs and the ethos of schools.

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:

  • Changes to policy and planning documents
  • Whole school reform of curriculum
  • Individuals or groups being given responsibility for internationalisation strategies, Asia literacy and for supporting curriculum planning across the school
  • Asian languages programs introduced, extended or improved
  • Clusters and networks working together to develop Asia focused curriculum, language programs and language teacher support groups
  • Sister school relationships with schools in Asia established and grown
  • Capacity building and professional learning
  • Raised expectations for staff and students
  • Recruitment of personnel and procurement of resources.

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.

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