Peatmoor Community Primary is one of five schools in Swindon taking part in a British Council funded project to reach out to the other side of the world and establish connections with schools in Japan.
Year 5 teacher Sarah Adams joined staff from Greendown, Isambard, Oliver Tomkins Junior School and Lawn Primary in a week-long visit to Kyoto on the island of Honshu. They met local educationalists and dignitaries and shared presentations about the different approaches to teaching.
“The people we met were lovely and we learnt so much which will benefit our children,” said Sarah.
Peatmoor has now established links with Yamada Elementary school in the small town of Yosano. Sarah and her colleagues across Swindon are planning many activities to share with their new Japanese friends over the coming year.
“The children have written letters introducing themselves, after seeing my photographs and videos,” said Sarah.
“They were surprised by how Japanese children sit: around the school are posters demonstrating the correct way – both feet flat on the floor, straight back, hands in lap, head forward. At their desks they sit in this way, they don’t need to be told, they just do it.
“Our children were amazed that the Japanese pupils are responsible for cleaning their school. This is something to be discussed by school council.
“The Japanese children have a great deal of respect for their teachers. Even with the excitement of visitors from abroad, they knew when to calm down. Within an instant, they returned to their work on the teacher’s request.”
Sarah said teaching methods rely on a great deal of whole class work, or using text books, and copying from the blackboard. There was also little evidence of technology use in the classroom, except in a secondary school with a large computer suite.
“It was a breath of fresh air to see simple teaching methods very much based on core principles,” said Sarah. “We’re going to do reports to show how people live and work here. And we’re planning a big exchange of artwork before Christmas.
“We hope to create a greater awareness of Japan in the wider community, as well as encourage global education and an appreciation of cultural diversity
“My pupils told me all about their trip in March to Stanton House Hotel whilst I was away. They loved learning a little Japanese and trying the cuisine.”