Sissinghurst VA Church of England Primary School is linked with Boma School, Kasungu, Malawi. The link has been facilitated by the organisation ‘Starfish Malawi’. The aim of the link is not charity but global education:
‘To motivate our pupils’ commitment to a fairer, more sustainable world.’
The Department for International Development (DIFD) supports partnerships that promote global education through the curriculum. They provide guidance for teachers and grants for reciprocal visits. In 2011 Sissinghurst obtained just such a grant from the British Council which allowed Ruth Phiri, Deputy Headteacher of Boma School to visit Sissinghurst in June 2012 and for me, Headteacher of Sissinghurst to visit Malawi in October 2012. Reciprocal visits have continued with Mrs Delorie, Malawi Link Co-ordinator and Classroom Teacher, visiting Boma School in October 2014 followed by Foster Amose Headteacher of Boma School, visit to Sissinghurst in May 2015.
Foster Amose visited London and watched the ‘Trooping of the Colours’ and was privileged to see the Queen and baby George. On Sunday he went to Bodiam Castle and learned about some of our rich heritage and on Tuesday he went to Hastings and saw the sea for the first time in his life! In between these visits he has taught year six about deforestation, held Q&A sessions with all six classes and observed a variety of lessons and clubs. He has eaten in the dinner hall with the children, attended all assemblies and contributed to one of them with his insightful reflections about ‘Peace’. He will return to Malawi with new ideas to share but we are also all the richer from the experience of his visit.
Foster Amose commented “Everyone is so kind, friendly and welcoming. I am overwhelmed by my experiences and the stories I will tell on my return to Malawi”
Despite the fact that there is no longer funding for reciprocal visits, our link remains strong. We now communicate via WhatsApp!
A study by NFER on behalf of DIFD has shown that involvement in the Global Schools Partnership Programme has a significant positive effect on the awareness, attitudes and responses of pupils about global issues.
It is our intention that through this link we will ‘open the eyes’ of our pupils in an area of the country where there is little ethnic diversity. We are currently embedding global issues into our long term planning and we are teaching about sustainable development through ‘Eco-schools’ projects. Development of the link with Boma School is part of the School Development Plan and part of the Christian ethos of our school.
We believe that Reciprocal visits are a very important aspect of the partnership; therefore we will be applying for a further ‘Connecting Classrooms’ grant as they become available.
Once you see the conditions in which the children of Malawi learn, you cannot help but want to improve the facilities for them. Therefore, we do try to raise some money each year through fund-raising so that we may send writing equipment, books and paper to Boma School in a container. The money raised through ‘bags to school’ is used for this purpose.
If you would like to find out more about the work of Starfish Malawi or would like to look at some educational resources, follow the links below: