‘Incredible’ visit by Lowestoft school head
HIS main role is to steer a course for one of Britain's most easterly high schools.
But one Lowestoft headteacher is looking further easy to Asia to foster links with schools across the world.
Andrew Hine, head of Benjamin Britten High School, has recently returned after visiting an academy public school in northern India, where he met staff and pupils and laid the foundations for 'future joint projects'.
Mr Hine and his wife Wendy, who teaches RE at Methwold High School in Norfolk, visited the Him Academy Public School (HAPS) at Hamirpur, in the Himalayan foothills and were treated like VIPs.
'India was incredible – the hospitality was amazing, it was almost like a state visit,' Mr Hine said.
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'I met one of the vice principals of HAPS when they visited my previous school in Lincolnshire. This trip had been arranged before my appointment as headteacher at Benjamin Britten earlier this year and the purpose was to support HAPS in introducing target setting for their students.'
During last month's visit, Mr Hine and his wife were shown the school sites and spent time studying students' work, observing lessons.
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He then explained to his hosts how target setting and tracking was used at Benjamin Britten.
'We were guests of honour at the school's speech day and were invited to present hundreds of prizes to successful students and make a formal address,' Mr Hine said. 'During the visit we also discussed future joint projects between our schools. The world is changing and for many students opportunities lie outside Lowestoft – it is important that students develop a wider world view.
'One of the lasting impressions from the visit is the determination of the students in India to do well. Education is valued far more than here in the UK... The biggest thing for me about India was how much emphasis they put on education and how it was the way forward,' he added.
The Hines also visited a group of schools that are all privately owned by one family. One was a village school with 1,000 students and another had 500, with ages ranging from kindergarten children to 17-year-olds.
'They were very interested in the competency-based curriculum at Benjamin Britten,' he said. 'We showed the staff and Indian students a presentation of Benjamin Britten by our year seven students, who are doing a module of work called 'my place'.'
Having begun his career in education in 1980, Mr Hine has taught in north Yorkshire, Kingston-upon-Hull, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. 'I've done it all – teaching in big city schools, rural schools and secondary moderns and for a time I was on Ofsted's team of inspectors for design and technology,' he said.
Since taking over as head of the school in Blyford Road in April, Mr Hine said it had been 'an exciting time'.
'It has been a time of wholesale change in town, as well as at Benjamin Britten, with the move from 13 to 18 education to the new 11 to 16 system. We registered record exam results in the summer and having the early years on site has changed the whole school.'
Mr Hine is keen to use his travels to encourage his students at Benjamin Britten to 'look towards the future' and to be ready to widen their horizons. He added; 'I want the kids to look further afield – they can achieve whatever they want to. We have also started making links with schools in South Africa.'