The International School Award is an accreditation scheme for curriculum-based international work in schools. Elmtree was delighted to be involved in this project through its links with Katapila School and Project Luangwa in Zambia.
Elmtree took part in this scheme to enable the children to have a good understanding of life in another country and to recognise how their daily lives are constantly affected by what people on the other side of the planet are doing. We aim for our children to understand the need to take care of our planet, demonstrating that they are on their way to becoming global citizens.
We believe that by participating in a variety of activities the children will develop a better understanding of the cultural and to a lesser extent, the political life of a community. We want our children to develop a respect for people in their local community and those of other communities worldwide. The activities and projects that we do will enable the children to connect with people on a local and global level and give them a better understanding of how caring enough about individuals in society, and the environment, can make a difference.
The children at Elmtree took part in a wide variety of activities linked to the International Award. Year 2 studied Africa during the Spring 2013 Topic, they found out about the animals that live there and how the people lived. We have had a Whole School Africa Day, where activities included African drumming and dancing, art and music. We hold African themed assemblies for the whole school each half term to update our children about the work we are doing for Project Luangwa. We also held a Zambia Day, where the whole school enjoyed finding out about Zambia, eating the food, collecting water, finding out about the animals and learning about life at a typical Zambian school.
We have had collaborative projects with Katapila School, the children at both schools planted trees and measure them on a regular basis to compare their growth and development. The result of the Sewing project can be see in the School Hall at Elmtree. Children from each of the schools were asked to design a wall hanging portraying the area in which they live. The Print of Chesham is now on display at Katapila school. Two of our teachers visited Zambia in September 2011 to find out more about Project Luangwa and to work in our twinned school, Katapila. Also one of our teachers delivered training on creative writing to teachers in Zambia in August 2012 and April 2013. Three members of staff gave a presentation on Project Luangwa to the local Rotary Club, which resulted in their decision to support the Project Luangwa charity.
The children and staff at Elmtree have filmed a documentary about Project Luangwa and greeting cards have been designed, hand printed and sold locally and in Zambia to raise funds. Our Year 2 children make regular visits to WorkAid in Chesham, to find out about the work that they do. Our wall hanging, from Zambia, was made using sewing machines donated through WorkAid.
The children in Year 2 wrote about what they could see ‘Through the Window’ and exchanged work with children from Katapila School. All the children at Elmtree were involved in creating alphabet and number flash cards depicting animals found in our environoment, and sent them to Katapila School. Children from Katapila School also made alphabet and number cards depicting the animals in their local environment for Elmtree children to use.
Our ongoing projects are the reciprocal writing between the two schools, an art/Eco competition, WorkAid visits and half-termly assemblies. During the Spring term of 2013 Year 1's topic was on 'Homes'. As well as finding out about homes in Zambia the children made their own miniature round house. Volunteers are in the process of making a ¾ sized round house on the top playground for everyone to use.
We have extended our class to class links to include partnerships with two local Chesham schools, a school in Suffolk, one in Connecticut and one in Pakistan. We have learnt that new doors to learning open and lead from one project to the next, therefore we expect our current plans for the next 3 years to continue expanding and developing.
Our Reception classes formed a partnership with Bardwell Church of England School in Suffolk. Bardwell is a very rural school set deep within the agricultural community in East Anglia.
Year 1 classes formed a partnership with The Central Model School in Khanewal which is the capital of Khanewal District in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
Year 2 classes exchanged letters with The Center School in Connecticut, USA.
Teaching staff worked their way through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms online training. This provided them with a wealth of skills that enabled them to get the best out of our partnerships with other schools around the world.
We do recognise the challenges that lie ahead, the biggest of which is communication and accessibility with the schools in the South Luangwa Valley. Zambia is a very poor country and the majority of the schools in the area are in very remote and rural settings where communication is already difficult, however we believe that we have a realistic understanding of these challenges based on the visits made to the area by staff from Elmtree School. We have forged successful partnerships with a number of organisations committed to developing the global community, but the strength of our partnership with Project Luangwa is key to ensuring the development of our international work. We are determined that the reciprocal projects lie at the heart of everything that we do to ensure children in both countries truly gain knowledge and understanding of each other's culture, setting the children on the path to true Global Citizenship.