Wisbech Grammar School is planning to go international
A massive investment at a Wisbech school aims to bring ‘far-reaching benefits’ for pupils from September – including attracting international students.
Wisbech Grammar School’s headmaster Chris Staley unveiled major plans which include the creation of an international boarding house, with seven students set to enrol from China this autumn.
The £650,000 project will also see classrooms transformed with new designs based around ‘Harkness Tables’ – a method of teaching that involves up to 14 pupils seated around a large oval table.
The system aims to encourage pupils to discuss ideas and work collaboratively. It is a shift away from the traditional, teacher at the front of the class, approach.
Sixth form pupils will have a new centre, which will have a dedicated space for A-level subjects, collaborative and silent working spaces, a lecture facility, plus a café and common room space.
The current sixth form house (Hazel Centre) will be developed to provide the international boarding for overseas pupils and will be available from September.
The centre will be converted back into a house, as it was originally designed, and will have capacity for 10-12 students, with houseparent accommodation on the top floor.
A school spokesman said: “The decision behind the new state of the art plans at WGS is based on the headmaster’s vision of continuous improvement, and year-on-year the school is raising standards to become a beacon of excellence for pupils.
“The driving forces behind these projects are two-fold. Firstly, an improvement in teaching and learning and the classroom environment for pupils.
“Secondly, to begin the process of clustering departments into faculties in order to give subjects a clearer sense of identity and to create functional zones around the WGS campus.
“This gives the opportunity to really focus on subject areas that naturally complement and maximise opportunities across departments.
“The governing body has supported Mr Staley’s decision to launch an international strategy.
“The idea of introducing a small group of overseas pupils into the WGS community is one that is founded on the headmaster’s desire to continue to widen the outlook of WGS pupils and, at the same time, prepare them for the world in which they will ultimately work.
“The school will open its doors to a small group of pupils from China in September. On the back of the visit by the headmaster at the end of last year, the school has seen a significant amount of interest from China and at present seven pupils are signed up and committed to joining this autumn.
“One pupil will arrive in April for the start of the Trinity term and will be staying with a host family off campus.”
At the recent governing body’s meeting a timeline was agreed between now and September for the projects to be completed.
These include the Dwight Centre becoming the Dwight 6th Form Centre; establishing a creatives hub with food and nutrition and dance/drama all within touching distance of each other. Music will have a completely new space.
There will also be an arts hub – English will sit alongside art and textiles and modern foreign languages; a science and maths hub; and a humanities hub with geography, history and religious studies together.
The old caretaker’s house at the front of the school will be redeveloped with the upstairs converted into staff accommodation for a resident tutor to assist overseas pupils.
Downstairs will be transformed into a small medical centre for when overseas pupils are too ill to attend school and require medical assistance.
Mr Staley concluded: “These plans are transformational and progressive, and the benefits to pupils will mean they have an environment which encourages academic success, creativity and well-being.
“As WGS opens its doors to overseas pupils, there will also be further opportunities for all pupils to take advantage of a school that is really ‘building for the future’.”