International School Award
(Designated International School 2016-2019)
The Willink School has held the International Schools Award for 15 years, and since 2012 at gold standard. We are proud to be a “local school with a global outlook”; a global perspective is integral to our school vision. Staff who are appointed to Willink are inducted into our global vision and asked at interview how they may contribute to sustaining the vision.
Our international ethos includes running a large variety of trips and visits including day trips to France, Belgium and Germany, two residential trips to Spain, school exchanges, a “world challenge” expedition (Malawi in 2013, Borneo in 2015, Madagascar 2017, Thailand, Laos & Cambodia in 2019) and the annual visit to Moldova where our students have undertaken educational and community work since 2006. It is our aim that all students experience a foreign visit during their time at Willink – and we use pupil premium funding and access local charities to try to achieve this goal. The school assembly programme ensures all students gain by hearing the experiences of our students visiting abroad and the beliefs, values and attitudes of people from other cultures. In 2012 students had the opportunity, for the first time, to complete their work experience in France. This offer was extended to Germany in 2016. It has continued each year since.
Although only a small number of students take part in our trips to China (next trip Easter 2020), students experience Chinese culture through Chinese teachers from Reading University who visit Willink each year, and through lessons in Mandarin. In 2018 we visited Beijing and visited our partnership school, Tian Jiabing Middle School near Xi’an. In September 2019 Mandarin is being taught, beginning in year 7.
Almost all students study a language to GCSE; we believe if the teaching is inspiring and the curriculum is engaging all students can successfully study a language. We are keen to provide opportunities to take part in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) lessons. Aspects of geography, food technology, history, music and science have been taught at some point in a foreign language and it is our aim that all students, staff permitting, experience this form of teaching during their time at Willink. CLIL lessons are offered as part of our enrichment curriculum
The school welcomes foreign language assistants in French, German and Spanish as well as a, British Council sponsored, Comenius Assistant from another European country (in recent years we have welcomed staff from Greece, Turkey, Poland and Slovakia).
Global citizenship is embedded throughout the school supported by our partnership with RISC (Reading International Solidarity Centre) and every tutor group lends money raised to individuals throughout the world as part of our Kiva.org microfinance project. All students take a humanities subject to GCSE level. In addition all students follow a RE course at Key Stage 4 where Christianity and Islam are the two religions studied again supporting the school values of respect, tolerance and celebration of cultural differences
As a Teaching School, the Willink supports the development of global perspectives and builds more widely on its work on the Global Learning Programme, a hub school for primary and secondary schools in west and central Berkshire and in north Hampshire.
The school welcomes applications for places from oversees students into the Sixth Form.