Newport & Punchbowl Public Schools

The Year 4 cultural exchange program between Punchbowl and Newport Public Schools is now in its sixteenth year. The program celebrates the diversity of Australia and Australian identities.

Punchbowl Public School is located in Sydney’s inner west. The school population includes students from 35 different language backgrounds including Arabic, Samoan, Chinese and Vietnamese. Students from Newport Public School come predominantly from English speaking backgrounds. The school is located on Sydney’s northern beaches.

In Term 1 each year, every Year 4 student is allocated a pen-pal to whom they make contact through letters or email. Newport students visit Punchbowl and meet face-to-face with their buddies. Everyone participates in cultural dancing, craft and language lessons in a variety of community languages. Students also share cuisine from many different cultures. After the initial face-to-face meeting, students continue to write to each other.

In Term 4, the students meet again when Punchbowl students travel to Newport. At Newport the students and visiting parents get to experience a ferry trip around Pittwater before enjoying beach games, sand modelling and a BBQ on Newport Beach. After face-to-face meetings and ongoing correspondence, many of the students develop ongoing friendships.

The cultural exchange featured on the ABC’s 7:30 Report in December 2002. In 2003, both schools were the recipients of the Director General’s Award for Schools’ Twinning Program to promote a culturally diverse society. Both schools were also given a Highly Commended Cohesive Community School Award in acknowledgement of their significant contribution to the promotion of social harmony and unity. The program has led to a special bond developing between the students, teachers and parents of both school communities.

“It’s an invaluable experience that will hopefully equip our children with the ability to question the stereotypes and prejudices of some of our society.”
Leisa Stranack, Parent, Newport Public School.

The exchange program is now a fundamental part of both the curriculum and culture of both schools.