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WUNDERBAR APPROACH; This week Education Reporter Ben Turner dusted off his phrase book and went to a German-embracing Brookdale primary school in Greasby.

Byline: Ben Turner

"KOMM zurueck spaeter ich futter gerade den walross" may leave you scratching your head.

But not so for children at Brookdale primary school in Greasby, where the German language is being grasped from an early age.

The man responsible for the German explosion and the above phrase, which translates as "come back later, I'm feeding the walrus", is the school's modern foreign language coordinator Charles Ellis.

In a previous guise he spent 10 years employed as a zookeeper at Hamburg Zoo where his daily duties including feeding star attraction Antje the walrus.

But after becoming fluent in German, Mr Ellis hankered for a career in education back on home soil - and the zoo's loss was Brookdale primary school's gain.

He said when primary schools were told to add modern languages to the curriculum in 2003, utilising his German linguistic skills was "a logical step", adding: "It was a case of 'let's get cracking on it'."

And the school has done just that.

Everything from children's books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the school's register were given the German treatment.

Anyone walking around the school will see a host of labels attached to objects ranging from doors to displays written in Ger man.

And the use of the German language, which pupils start at the age of four, has blossomed so much here that it was even given a ringing endorsement from the German embassy.

Mr Ellis has a certificate to prove it.

The German Teacher Award, signed by Germany's ambassador to the UK, Georg Boomgaarden, stated it was recognition of "setting the standards of excellence in the teaching of German as a foreign language in the UK".

The German emphasis complements the school's creative curriculum, which put simply sees all core subjects taught around themes and topics rather than in isolation.

As part of that provision the school has forged a strong partnership and friendship with a primary school in Hamburg.

The link has seen pupils bolster their German by becoming penpals with their European counterparts and the techno-savvy children also regularly share blogs.

Pupils in both schools compare and contrast schooling and the cultures of their two communities.

But because seeing is believing, pupils also get to go on annual trips to the German school and a week or two later return the favour and host their Hamburg friends.

As well as going to the German school they also see local landmarks - including Mr Ellis's old stomping ground at the zoo.

The school is supported through funding from UK German Connection, which is part of the British Council.

Mr Ellis said: "The trips are not just a way to learn the language but they experience a totally different environment away from parents in a different school with different systems.

"It definitely increases confidenc e."

Pupils master basic vocabulary in weekly German lessons.

But it is also makes its mark on other subjects within the cur riculum.

In PE instructions are given in German and at Christmas pupils demonstrated their culinary skills by baking German treats.

In art they have examined German artists to inspire their own masterpieces. It is no surprise the school has the coveted International School Award in recognition of its global efforts.

Headteacher Paul Prescott, only in post since Se ptember, has pledged to build on the German success.

He said: "It empowers them and enables them to access the global jobs market in adulthood." HeadLines STAYING back after class today is Paul Prescott, headteacher at Brookdale primary school in Greasby.

Name: Paul Prescott Title: Headteacher. Time in post: Since September last year. Leadership style in three words: Personal, pragmatic, realistic.

Three key aims for 2013: To move teaching from good to outstanding; to ensure all pupils make good progress; to develop the school building and enhance the learning environment. Worst thing you did as a pupil: On the way home from school I sat on a wobbly 30ft wall and destroyed it.

Best thing: Came first in athletics for discus in a North West event and went on to represent the region in the nationals. Songs on your playlist: Bright Lights Bigger City by Cee-Lo Green.

Hobbies: Fishing, singing, family. Hero and why: My parents, both selfless people who put other people first and encouraged everybody. They are true role models.

VoxPupils PUPILS at Brookdale primary school on their German studies Jessic a Griffiths, 10, said: "I enjoy going to Germany and getting a pen pal."

Ethan Cardus, nine, said: "I like learning the language in a fun way such as games on the computer."

Amy Meyer, nine, said: "I like learning new words and using PowerPoint to show the school in Germany what we do."

Elliott Dunbav in, eight, said: "It makes learning English easier and I practise learning German with my brother."


FLAG WAVING: Emily Parry, nine; Jennifer George, eight, and Jake Turnbull, nine Pictures: GARETH JONES/GRJ300113BR OOKDALE-10

BOOKWORM: Daniel Leonard, nine, gets stuck into The Very Hungry Caterpillar GRJ300113BROOKDALE-3
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2013
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