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Bury school's cultural exchange programme with Russia saved by telecoms firm
A TELECOMMUNICATIONS firm came calling after a cultural exchange project between a Bury high school and pupils in Russia was under threat of folding.
Pennine Telecom stepped in to donate £1,000 towards the annual £12,000 cost of an International Inspir-ations scheme in which Broad Oak Sports College has taken part for the past six years.
The project involves students flying to Omsk, the capital of Western Siberia, to collaborate with fellow high school students.
Russian pupils also visit Bury, joining up with Broad Oak students on work such as musical, drama and media presentations. Last year, they produced their own sports news programme and in 2011 staged a Magic of the Musicals performance.
The exchange scheme was devised by the British Council but it has had to withdraw funding, leaving the UK schools involved reliant on corporate donors. Two other Greater Manchester schools had to pull out of the scheme, leaving only Broad Oak to participate.
Pennine, which previously collaborated with Broad Oak to create the first home broadband internet service offered by an English school, came to the rescue after hearing the project could be cancelled.
Managing director of the firm in Salford Street, Andrew Roberts, said: “We have worked in partnership with Broad Oak for three years now and have long been impressed with the way the school supports and nurtures its students.The provision of cutting edge e-learning tools, facilitated by the home broadband network, is obviously something we can really relate to, but we were really taken aback to learn of the Siberian exchange scheme.
“Then we looked into it and saw that it offers real value to participating students, giving them a fresh outlook not just on life and the world, but their own strengths and qualities. We’re delighted to be able to support such an innovative and worthwhile initiative”
Head of Year 10 and international programme leader at the Hazel Avenue school, Lisa Parker, thanked the company for its support.
She said: “The experience students both from Bury and Omsk get from this scheme are immeasurable. They not only gain an insight into a completely different culture and climate, but, having broken down language barriers to collaborate on projects, can greatly improve their confidence and self-esteem.
“The majority of our children are asked rather than requested to take part because we can see how the experience can help unlock their potential. Such an opportunity, which previous students have all said is life-changing, would be denied were it not for the generosity of community minded companies like Pennine Telecom.”
In November, 24 Russian students are expected to visit Bury and work with their Broad Oak counterparts on a new stage show.
Then next February the Bury students will fly to Omsk, where temperatures will fall to about minus 30 degrees, to work on another project.
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