School-to-School Links: Looking back on 2023
Here’s Isabel’s report to the AGM:
The schools in our partnerships
All Saints CE Primary Academy Edest
St Paul’s CE Primary Academy REC Kossoh Town
Christ Church CE Primary Academy Kankalay
Guestling Bradshaw CE Primary School Maynard
Battle Abbey Secondary School Kelly’s Vocational College
Battle and Langton CE Primary School Jui Lower
St Leonards CE Primary Academy Model Baptist, Grafton
Sacred Heart RC Primary School REC Hastings
St Mary Magdalene RC Primary School Beckley
Sedlescombe CE Primary Academy REC Jui Upper
St Peter and St Paul’s CE Primary School Glory
Ore Village Primary Academy St Mulumba
Claverham Community College Huntingdon Kola Tree JSS
Saxon Mount Secondary School Huntingdon Jui JSS
Despite the fallout from covid and flu, our school links remain strong. We warmly welcomed Ore Village Primary Academy into our school partnership link and now have a possible 13-14 partnerships. We regularly exchange news with our partners in Sierra Leone. We had our first face to face Teachers Meeting in December 2022 after nearly 3 years. It was so good to see everyone again and it was a very productive meeting. Since then, we have been meeting regularly, culminating in the first exchange visit for 3 years, which took place in October. (See below for more detail). There is no more funding from the British Council, so we are having to be creative in finding the money to continue these visits. We are very grateful to the Fonthill Foundation for its contribution towards the October visit, to the teachers for all their fund raising, and to the link for its contribution. Global Learning still continues in our UK schools. It is an important part of the curriculum, and having a partner school and enabling these visits, makes it more meaningful and helps to bring it to real life.
Our joint schools project for this academic year is ‘Protecting Our Future’. This was launched during our visit with the focus on planting trees. Simon and Corinne organised for each school to receive a tree to plant, with the intention of our UK schools doing the same. We are also looking at ways to recycle waste to use as resources in both countries.
Our International Pupil Council in UK is meeting regularly again led by Mandy Hinxman. One very exciting meeting during the year brought IPC members from both countries together through a Zoom link where the children could actually see each other for the very first time. UK children held a competition to design an IPC badge, and the badges were presented to the SL IPC members during our visit. Both countries ICP groups have also discussed what our joint project should be and what activities might be good to do in their schools. Some teachers in SL have been showing children how to make good use of waste materials to make resources for learning and playing.
Our School Farms Project has now completed its third year. The 2023 School Farms Project launch took place in May, with 30 schools now participating in this amazing project. Our aims for 2023 include looking towards sustainability, including the local community, developing skills in practical agriculture for more pupils and working towards possible livelihoods in farming. Some of our schools now feel they can sustain their farms without further funding. Some are getting help from their local community and all are giving their students more opportunities for practical farming. The group is so large now, we have appointed an Assistant Project Manager, Suffian Kamara, to help Project Manager, Jeitta Kanneh, run the project and visit schools. In October while we were in Sierra Leone, schools held an exhibition to display their harvests. This was held at the Twin Town Centre in Hastings. Schools taking part brought some of their pupils to answer questions about their year on their school farms, as well as examples of their crops. The 2024 project will be launched in the spring when the rainy season starts. Meanwhile, some crops can be grown through the dry season, such as cassava, and the farms continue to flourish. The enormous success of this project has inspired some schools in Hastings UK to develop their own school gardens.
October visit to Sierra Leone
The visit was very successful. The group was so supportive of each other, we had some good laughs and well as some focused activities with schools. There was a mixture of older and younger, experienced travellers and new to Africa people. It was the perfect mix, and everyone listened patiently to my risk assessments every morning!
12 teachers, 4 HSLFL members and Yvonne Johnson travelled together. Our timetable included
- Joint training workshop
- Headteachers workshop
- Work in schools for teachers,
- Visits to schools by Isabel, Corinne and Jeitta
- Sanitation Meeting and visits to schools by Richard, Alex and Suffian
- Reflection meeting
- International Pupil Council meeting
- School Farms Exhibition
It also included
- A cooking lesson
- Visit to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary
- Lots of eating out courtesy of Yvonne, Mimi, Francis and Abie, and the school teachers
- A visit to the beach
- A visit to Francis Mason’s new project
- A visit to Freetown, sight-seeing and shopping
- A meal out, treating our partners for all their hard work, support, friendship and care during our visit
Not bad for 8 days in between long travel days!
I would like to say a huge thank you to the following people without which this visit would not have been possible.
These include Yvonne Johnson and Yvette John from the London Association, Frances and Abie Mason, Jeitta, Suffian and Letitia, and 247 coaches for their reduced cost of UK transport.
What we achieved
- Rebuilding of relationships for those of us having travelled before.
- An understanding of life and culture of Sierra Leone, which will be passed on to children, schools and the communities of Hastings UK.
- Relationships across the ocean that will continue to flourish through Whats App and further visits, which will strengthen all the communities understanding of Global Citizenship.
- A sharing of teaching and learning strategies which will benefit children and teachers in both countries.
- An appreciation of what we have in UK, and also what SL has that we lack.
- The start of our Joint Schools Project, ‘Protecting our Future’
- An update on the Sanitation Project
- Some first hand experience of the success of the School Farms Project including butterflies
- Information about the TTC to share
- An experience never to be forgotten, and relationships between the UK group that will continue to grow.
Isabel Hodger 14/11/23
For the presentation on the October visit and on the Schools Farm Project, click on this link: AGM schools presentation 2023