25th August 2014

Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School in Kent has been awarded the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of its work to bring the world into the classroom.

The International School Award is a badge of honour for schools that do outstanding work in international education, such as through links with partner schools overseas. Fostering an international dimension in the curriculum is at the heart of the British Council’s work with schools, so that young people gain the cultural understanding and skills they need to live and work as global citizens.

The School’s international work includes:

To know what a school day and weekend in the life of a KSA/UK student would be like

Aim:  This would include one day at school and one day on the weekend/holiday. This will enhance literacy, ICT and creative skills. This project has really had a significant impact on the students who have been involved with conducting the project. By carrying out this activity the students have enhanced their international awareness in terms of cultural and language differences. They have learned a lot about the Saudi?s culture by meeting a number of teachers and educators from Saud Arabia who visited SJWMS in February 2013 and by watching video clips about the partner schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which have been uploaded into the British Council Website (BCW). The students involved have designed a questionnaire about the daily routine of a student in Saudi Arabia which was uploaded into the BCW. They have also answered the questionnaires which had been written by the students in Saudi Arabia to the students in the school at the Medway Cluster. They have also created a video about our school which will be unloaded into the BCW shortly

To develop an understanding of how to live in a healthy manner

Aim:  To develop knowledge and understanding of cultural differences in relation to health (food, exercise, smoking, drugs and alcohol). Skills: This will develop literacy, ICT and numeracy skills. The healthy living project encouraged students in PE lessons to think about the definition of a healthy lifestyle. They started to write the 10 most important factors which will be considered as a healthy lifestyle. These will be uploaded into the British Council Website shortly. They will compare these with the outcome from the students in Saudi Arabia.

Comparative renewable energy sources and their efficiency

Aim: To be aware of the various renewable energy sources in various parts of the world based on their local climate, e.g. wind farms, tide generators, solar etc… For this project the students have done research about the various types of renewable energy sources and their efficiencies. They have been producing some posters about the various types of renewable energy sources depending on climate. For example, students explored Solar Energy sources in Saudi Arabia and Wind and Tidal Wave energies in the UK. The project enriched the curriculum and enhanced the students? knowledge in Science according to the Head of Science.

The UN Millennium Development Goals

Aim:  Students look at what the UN Millennium Development Goals are and how they link to development indicators, and study which parts of the world are making more or less progress towards meeting them and why. Students look at how Birth Rates, Death Rates and other development indicators (including social influences like religion and a lack of contraception) influence population structures in richer and poorer countries (e.g. the UK compared with Kenya). Students also study Plate Tectonic. They look at example of an earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcano in different parts of the world (e.g. Mount Merapi, Java, Indonesia) and look at prediction, effects and responses

Studying the history of Pi

Aim:  Year 7 students carry out a study about the history of Pi and make various displays. This includes studying how the ancient civilisations such as the Babylonians and the Egyptian calculated the value of Pi?

Young people’s place in the world

Aim:  The whole of the KS3 curriculum focuses on Young People?s place in the World. Students complete a six week unit of study on Islam. As well as considering the beliefs and practices of Islam, they focus on the impact Islam has had on our World, in terms of mathematical and scientific advancement. They also consider the challenges young Muslims might face in practicing their religion in a multi-faith or secular society. Studies start by focusing on Saudi Arabia, and the influence of Mecca, and spread to understand of Islam across the World on in the UK. At the end of the Year, students compare and contrast the similarities and differences found in a range of religious festivals, contrasting the beliefs and practises found in these across the World. Students compare the Moral codes of a range of Religions, including the practice of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, and the impact of these beliefs on the lives of individuals. They link this with a lesson comparing forms of Government. Students research the style of Government of one country other than the UK for homework. They link this work in with bullying and discrimination. At the end of the Year students look at a variety of places of worship and discuss how these are used by different communities. Cultural awareness and diversity continues to be a significant theme. They discuss initiation in a range of cultures and situations.

Exchange activities with students in Year 9 with students in Robert Desnos in France

Aim:  Since 2010 we have had an exchange with students in year 9 with students in Robert Desnos school in Masny. This exchange involves termly communication and exchange of work between students. We exchange classwork which follows our scheme of work and the French students produce exemplars in French for our pupils to model and use. We request that pupils provide English exemplars of topics they are covering in France that the French students could use to improve their level of English. Any work undertaken in English to support the French students is done in their free time. In term one we exchange an introductory letter which introduces the pupil and his family. In term 2 we exchange a piece regarding what they used to be like when they were younger and which focuses on the imperfect tense. In term 3 we exchange work on an account of future projects and plans. In February the pupils from France join us in England and attend school with their exchange partner for the day. Pupils follow a condensed timetable and get a genuine experience. In May we visit the school

Studying music from various parts of the world

Aim:  As part of the Curriculum for KS3 pupils will study music from various parts of the world. Year 7: They will explore African Drumming.

  • Year 8: They will explore Indian Music.
  • Year 9: The will be involved in a World Music Project.

Students get the opportunity not just to learn the musical features of these styles but to try out some authentic instruments and experiment using the techniques. They also look at how the music is affected by its context and how the music has developed.

Other programmes:

Geography Quality Mark Awarded by the Geographical Association. Recognises standards and promotes self-review in geography departments. Global issues and how these relate to people and physical processes is an underlying theme of the subject. We are working towards the RE Quality Mark, which requires us to evidence our impact on the wider society. We have also run an external conference with KS5 focusing on international development and the questions of debt and poverty. As internationalism is very important at our school and as part of our international programme we are offering our students the chance of meeting and getting to know a young person from Japan. A group of twenty students and two teachers from Kanto International School, our partner school in Tokyo, will be visiting us in July 2014. We have found families who would like to host our guests. The students are between fifteen and seventeen years old; 11 are girls and 9 are boys. They are studying English as a foreign language and are keen to improve their spoken English, meet British people and learn about our culture. In school, the students will follow a programme of English lessons and some shared activities with our students. However, in 2 days they will visit places of interest in our area. This is the first time we have linked up with Japan and the Mayor of Rochester will be joining us on the first day to celebrate the partnership.

John Rolfe, from the British Council, said: ‘The school’s fantastic international work has rightfully earned it this prestigious award. The International School Award is a great chance for schools to demonstrate the important work they’re doing to bring the world into their classrooms. Adding an international dimension to children’s education ensures that they are truly global citizens and helps prepare them for successful future careers in an increasingly global economy.’

2012 saw more than 800 schools receive International School Award accreditation. This includes a wide range of schools from a variety of different backgrounds and areas across the UK. The British Council hopes to build on this success throughout 2013

The Award is now available worldwide in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus and Pakistan as part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme. Around 4000 International School Awards have been presented to successful schools in the UK since the scheme began in 1999.

The ISA encourages and supports schools to develop:

  • An international ethos embedded throughout the school
  • A majority of pupils within the school impacted by and involved in international work
  • Collaborative curriculum-based work with a number of partner schools
  • Curriculum-based work across a range of subjects
  • Year-round international activity
  • Involvement of the wider community

For further details please contact:

Dr Ismael L Karam BSc PGCE MSc PhD

Assistant Head Teacher

Director of Mathematics

International School Coordinator 

Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School

Maidstone Road


Kent ME1 3EL


Tel: 01634 844008 (school)

Fax: 01634 818303

Email: ismael.karam@sjwms.org.uk