Fish and chip lunches, football and friendships have been enjoyed by a delegation of 25 children from China who have spent the week with pupils at Springfield Primary School in Spondon.
The school in West Road welcomed the children from the Tunxiao Primary School and Wanghu Primary School as part of a city-wide partnership with the Chinese city of Hefei.
And it was the perfect opportunity for Springfield pupils to learn more about diversity – one of the four main pillars of their school curriculum.
“They don’t speak a lot of English and we don’t speak their language so I’ve been talking as clearly as I can and have been smiling lots to make sure they are happy,” said Lula-May, aged nine.
And the language did not prove a barrier when it came to having fun on the football courts.
Pupils from Year 5 and 6 at Springfield Primary took the Chinese visitors to Derby County Football Club where they enjoyed a tour of the stadium, using robots and a game of football at the end.
“The football class I found very interesting, very good and the PE class,” said Xin Yang from Hefei.
Nine-year-old Eliza from Springfield also enjoyed the trip to Pride Park. “It was fun playing with the robots and seeing the football pitch,” she said.
Both the Chinese and English students said they had found each other very friendly.
“I have learned a lot about where my buddy lives in China,” said nine-year-old Josh. “They told me it is colourful, pretty and cold and that there are red lanterns everywhere.
Austin, 10, said it had given him an interest in the country. “I’d really like to visit China now and find out more about it,” he said.
Ailing, who is visiting from China, said: “I like the school and my friend, they are very friendly and very kind. The playground is my favourite place and I like the art class.”
The children also go to visit the University of Derby, where they experienced lectures and even a graduation, helping to raise aspirations.
Headteacher David Blackwell said the trip followed his own visit to China in October, when he got to visit several schools.
“I was really keen to be part of the visit programme because it is just a wonderful opportunity for our children to experience different cultures and to forge new friendships. I hope those connections will last and they continue to write and keep in touch with their new friends in China.”
Both staff and students have learned a lot about the differences between education in both countries too. The students from China come from primary schools with around 3,000 pupils, set out over large campuses.
Xin Yang and his friend Ruichen both said they liked the friendly feel of Springfield Primary School.
“It is very friendly,” said Ruichen. “Yes,” added Xin Yang, “and the teachers are all very excited about their classes.”
Ian Dewes, chief executive officer of the Odyssey Collaborative Trust which Springfield Primary School is part of, said other schools within the trust were now looking at doing similar partnerships.
“It is fantastic that David has been able to make these connections from his visit to China and turn that into a wonderful experience for pupils from both Springfield Primary and the two schools in China. I know now that other schools in our family are looking at establishing similar links which will benefit even more children.”