18th August 2017

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.

Below is a message from the British Council regarding our successful application for the reaccreditation for full ISA. 

Dear International Co-ordinator,

Thank you for submitting your International School Award Reaccreditation Impact Evaluation. We are delighted to inform you that it has been approved by our assessors. Congratulations!

Your school is hereby reaccredited from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2020. To ensure that there is no gap in your accreditation, you will need to submit your next action plan for reaccreditation in just over 2 years. The actual deadline will be announced on our website nearer the time.

Here are the assessor’s comments on your Impact Evaluation, to highlight where your application was particularly impressive and points to take note of as you continue to develop the international dimension in your school:

“This is an excellent Impact Evaluation submitted by Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, which fully deserves Reaccreditation of the International School Award. It is clear that the international dimension is going from strength to strength in your school and that this is mainly due to a dynamic international coordinator who has worked to involve all members of staff in the international work that you do. This is reflected by the fact that a wide range of staff members have taken the lead role in the international activities that you have outlined. Your international activities are carefully designed to offer your pupils a wide range of experiences linked to the dimension. Where collaboration with partner schools is included, this is effective and reciprocal, in that students in both schools fully benefit from the experience. Additionally, it is pleasing to see your involvement in Erasmus+ projects, which no doubt will help to sustain these links that you forge with overseas schools. You demonstrate a commitment to developing MFL, not only through your Erasmus+ project, but also with the link you have developed with you French partner school, which clearly shows a detailed, well planned out programme of collaboration throughout the academic year. There is no doubt that this collaboration, and the chance to use their French in a number of ‘real’ situations, will help to support the learning and the enthusiasm of your pupils in this curriculum area. The content and structure of your activity entitled Young People’s Place in the World involving your younger pupils, is effective, as not only is the curriculum delivered from a factual point of view, but you also allow for the development of critical thinking and reflection, which is vital for young people growing up in a modern world. To develop this further, you may like to consider the use of eTwinning in order to collaborate with others around the world in a short term project to support the learning of your students. As a school applying for reaccreditation of the International School Award, the ambassadorial role is an important element and you have demonstrated that you have developed this since your last application. We encourage you to continue to build on this within your local area or network of schools. Congratulations in achieving Reaccreditation of the International School Award and good luck in your future work. “

Congratulations on working so hard to co-ordinate such an impressive range of work as an International Co-ordinator! You are a credit to the school and the wider community.

We will be printing certificates of achievement. If the name of your school or your head teacher has changed since you submitted your action plan then please inform us at isa@britishcouncil.org in the next two weeks to ensure we have the correct information for your certificate of achievement. You will soon be invited to attend an award ceremony where you will receive your certificate and will celebrate your success with other international coordinators and The British Council. If you are unable to attend, please inform us and we will post the certificate to the school.

The scheme mark, which is a key part of the Award, and press release template will be sent with a separate email.

We hope that the scope of your excellent international activities will continue to develop and benefit the school community; your support, commitment, creativity and innovative international work is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking part in the International School Award. Please convey our very best wishes and many congratulations to all staff and students both in the UK and overseas who have taken part in the scheme. Please also contact your local media to inform them about your successful international work – this is a great achievement and one that deserves celebrating and sharing widely.

We wish you the best as you continue with your international journey.

Kind regards,

The International School Award team British Council

The School’s international work includes:

Sustainability of European cities

This is the first of the two Erasmus projects which is involving the Geography, Science and Modern Foreign Language Departments. This will include working alongside different schools in France, Italy, Germany and Finland. Students will be looking at sustainability in European cities and there will be travel opportunities to the countries involved. Two members of staff have already been out to finalise project details in Finland and we are to expect a cohort of Finnish students in December this year. We will be inviting Year 10 students interested in participating in the project to apply for a place. There will be a selection process and the successful applicants will be going to a French school in February half-term to work alongside their French peers comparing and discussing sustainability in their home towns.

Aim: The aim is for the students to study sustainability of agriculture, waste, buildings and transport in their countries and then share this information during student mobility’s overseas. This will involve students from Years 10 to 13 (age range from (14 to 18).

Exchanging good practice of Science – Science is fun!

This is the second of the two Erasmus projects. This exciting project working alongside staff and students in Latvia, Spain and Italy. The programme will span two years and will aim to supplement and expand our students’ education in various subjects. For the first year of the project, teachers will share good practise with their overseas peers, during the second year students will get to the opportunity to travel and share science experiments. Spanish linguists will get the opportunity to share their scientific knowledge in Spanish.

Aim: The aim is to share good practice of science teaching and learning and to look at the importance of science in the international market. This will involve students from Years 10 to 13 (age range from 14 to 18 years).

French Languages and cultural awareness

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 1 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 (Term 5) we visit the school in France. The activity above was replaced with year all 9 pupils visiting the Xmas Market in Lille as part of their French education last year. During this visit pupils undertook a range of activities to ensure that they had meaningful conversations with members of the French community. Upon arrival to Lille they started their visit with the challenge of finding their way to the Xmas market in small groups.

Aim:  Students compare and contrast the similarities and differences found in the languages and the cultures of the two countries.

At their visit to the Xmas Market in Lille the pupils were given a map and were required to ask at least one French person for directions. Upon arrival students were required to go to a stall or a shop and buy a postcard, from there they had to make their way to the post office and each ordered and bought their own stamp to England. Students written a postcard home in French and had to send it and place it in the correctly labelled post-box.   At lunchtime the students went with their teachers to a French restaurant and students had to choose their food from a French menu and ordered their own meal speaking in French. They all were also responsible for asking for and paying their own bill in Euros. The main priority or aim of the trip was as much exposure to French language and culture as possible.  The impact of the visit was discussed after returning back to school.

The History of Pi (π)

Year 7 students will carry out study about the history of Pi (π) and make a display. This has been a very popular and exciting activity which Year 7 and their teachers thoroughly enjoy to undertake. This includes studying how the ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians, the Egyptian and the Greek calculated the value of π. They also explore how modern computed can be used to calculate the value of π to an almost infinite numbers of decimal places.

Aim:  Leaning how to calculate the circumference and the area of the circle is part of the curriculum for Year 7. The students take this opportunity to explore this new symbol for the first and learn a lot about how human-beings have been interested in this inspirational numb re for thousands of years.

Sustainable Development Goals Activity and Plate Tectonics Project

Students look at what the new Sustainable Development Goals are (these replace the Millennium Development Goals), 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 examples 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 (linked to levels of development).

Aim:  Students look at what the Sustainable 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. 

For Plate Tectonics students 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.

World Music Project

As part of the curriculum, students will explore music from around the world. The curriculum covers Samba Band (year 7), Indian Ensemble, (year 8) African Drumming Group, (GCSE). We have various extra-curricular groups such as the Steel Band and students who play instruments from other cultures are encouraged to perform in assemblies including whole school assemblies and at concerts. The students regularly take part in concerts some of which are joint with students who visit the school from other countries. In summer 2010 and Summer 2011 the music department put on a concert with the students from Foshan School in China. In 2011, the music department ran a drumming workshop for these students. In September 2011 the “Destiny Africa” visited the school. These are students from a Ugandan orphanage who were on tour in the UK. They did an evening concert at school and during the day lead a workshop for our students. Our students performed a couple of pieces with them in the concert. In Spring 2012 there was a lunchtime recital by Sam Randhawa who is a classical Indian musician. In 2015 we put on a workshop with a Japanese partner school on the music of The Beatles and worked together to create a concert which included both Japanese and Western Music. The school has also purchased Samba drums two pair of table and a harmonium to enable pupils to perform on authentic instruments. The year 7 concert (2016) includes performances of songs from the Caribbean and Africa.

Aim:  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.

Young People’s Place in The World

The whole of the KS3 curriculum for Life Skills, Religious Education, PSHE and Citizenship focuses on Young Peoples 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 practices 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 is 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 used by different communities. Cultural awareness and diversity continues to be a significant theme. They discuss initiation in a range of cultures and situations.

Aim:  By carrying out these series of activities, students will be able by the end of Year to compare and contrast the similarities and differences found in a range of religious festivals, contrasting the beliefs and practices found in these across the World. Students will be able to 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. The students will also discuss initiation in a range of cultures and situations.

Japanese language and culture programme

Thirty of our pupils (years 7 – 11) went to Japan to stay with host families. They went to the Japanese school and learnt calligraphy, origami, Japanese song and dance and more of the Japanese language. We went for 10 days.

Aim:  Further exchanges will be organised. One of our students is currently studying Japanese at University on the strength of this exchange.

Studying the history of different countries

As part of the history curriculum there is a focus on the history of different countries. For example, Russia 1917-39, and Cold War Europe 1945-1990. The students also look at the different political, socio-economic structures of those countries. International diplomacy is also studied. For example, UN, Yalta, Potsdam etc. Year 12 students study the history of Italy and the growth of fascism. Year 13 history students study the political, social and economic changes in Germany between 1900 and 1945. Year 13 government and politics students study a variety of different ideologies, many of which are relevant to other countries such as socialism in Russia and China, multiculturalism etc.

Aim:  Students will, as a result, gain a greater understanding of the history of a number of countries. For the holocaust and occupation research students will research life under occupation and the effect of the war on the Jewish population. Information sourced on the Internet and students will watch a recorded interview with a holocaust survivor.

Full immersion language course

Students were taken to Barcelona on a full immersion language course. Whilst there we arranged for them to meet their pen pals in the Colegio Internacional in Barcelona. They had previously been in contact via email and online video calls presenting themselves to each other with various aspects of their student and personal lives. Upon arriving in the town situated high up on a hill we were warmly welcomed by Julia Viladot, the English teacher. The initial bemusement of both groups of students were quickly replaced with warm discussions and filled with questions and excitement. Our students were lucky to be presented with the history and purpose of the school and compare these careers and skills based schooling with their own academic experience. They also reflected on the importance of both Castilian, the Spanish that they are learning, and Catalan, the regional language, which are both used to teach in various subjects. Our students also were offered a traditional breakfast with various sweet pastries and fruit before having a tour along with their new friends of the ancient town where they further bonded over a picnic lunch in a park overlooking the picturesque valley. Farewells were long and our students were sad to leave their new friends but they expressed their enthusiasm for keeping in contact and maybe meeting in future and were glad to have made new friends in Spain.

Aim:  Students compare and contrast the similarities and differences found in the languages and the cultures of the two countries.

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