Pupils at Nova Hreod School demonstrated to International Development minister Alan Duncan, on a visit to Swindon on 19 October, how they’ve made lasting links with a school in South Africa.
Students presented Alan Duncan with news about a range of projects they’ve been working on to compare education, culture and lifestyles with their counterparts at Harold Cressy School in Cape Town.
Right, Alan Duncan with Nova Hreod student, and headteacher Julie Tridgell and North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson
Since 2008 when deputy headteacher Tom Wilkes first visited South Africa to explore links, there have been several exchange visits by teachers who have developed joint work on the history of Swindon and the District 6 area of Cape Town where Harold Cressy is located, on different methods of learning maths, comparing the ecology of the Nova Hreod site and Cape Point. Students have also struck up pen pal relationships to exchange information about their lives.
The minister also took questions from pupils about overseas aid and how it can improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest children.
Left, the minister with staff who have visited South Africa over the last four years
Alan Duncan congratulated the school on its excellent work. He said: “It’s fantastic to see students growing up in the UK learn about the world around them, and the lives of children their own age in developing countries. The link with Harold Cressy School will also greatly benefit pupils and teachers in the UK and overseas by helping to improve their ICT, English and professional skills.”
Nova Hreod School is one of many partnering a school in the developing world under the three year Connecting Classrooms programme, funded by the UK Government and the British Council.
Headteacher Julie Tridgell said: “We’re delighted with our link with Harold Cressy School in Cape Town, South Africa – it has had a dramatic impact on our pupils and staff, allowing them to learn firsthand about lives of other school children in the world around them.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said he was impressed by the presentations from students and teachers. "They showed their desire to work with and understand how people in other countries live and the challenges that developing societies face. It was touching that many students spoke of how lucky they are to receive a free education in well resourced schools."
The Connecting Classrooms initiative build on global learning programmes already run by the British Council to provide an improved and simplified service to schools. It will help teachers develop and sustain links with schools in over 50 countries worldwide, offering online support, grants for travel and training for teachers and school leaders. Aid from the UK will be used to support partnerships between the UK and 29 developing countries.
Swindon Link’s coverage of the partnership on 29 December 2010:
Thanks to a Global School Partnership grant from the Department for International Development, Year 9 students at Nova Hreod are having the history of apartheid brought to life for them in a most extraordinary way, through the increasingly strong links with Harold Cressy School in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nova community coordinator Tom Wilkes said the contact is now in its fifth year. “Harold Cressy, our partner school is situated right on the edge of District 6, the area of Cape Town that was forcibly reclaimed for whites during the 1960s. Two of the teachers from Harold Cressy, Clinton and Anthony Classon, were young boys at the time of the clearance, so have vivid memories of what happened. This is an extraordinary thing for our students to learn about, right from the people who were there as their homes were destroyed.”
History teacher Satveer Nuar, science teacher Nick Mitchell and computing specialist Dalton Godwin formed the Nova Hreod delegation who travelled to Cape Town in October, and were royally hosted by staff and students from Harold Cressy.
“They even got a tour of Robben Island in the company of a Harold Cressy old boy Sedick Isaacs, who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela,” said Tom. “We have video footage of an interview with Sedick, conducted by Satveer, which is like gold dust for our history curriculum.”
Scott Thomas is the history teacher leading the focus on apartheid history. “The students are receiving the topic brilliantly well, and it is linking very nicely with the work we’re doing on the Civil Rights Movement. It’s good to have the two perspectives to compare and understand, and the fact we can share materials and work with our partner school means that the learning is much more powerful and effective.”
Dalton worked on the Harold Cressy IT set up to improve communications between the schools.
Next year’s bid for the partnership grant will be based on a science project.
Pictured, from top: Youngsters and staff from Harold Cressy welcome Nova staff at 6am at the airport;
Satveer, Nick and Dalton with Mandela prison compatriot Sedick Isaacs
See our report of the 2011 visit