Global Connecting Classrooms 2019

With funding from the British Council, we have been able to start another exciting project with Sierra Leone. We had a highly successful project in 2018, in which two of our teachers travelled to Adeline School in Freetown to undertake work boosting reading and giving advice on teaching techniques.

In 2019, the British Council 'Connecting Classrooms' Grant has enabled Mrs Eileen Graham, Adeline's Head teacher, to visit our school in March with a return visit of Miss Baitson to Freetown in May.

We are indebted to the British Council for this wonderful opportunity so we can strengthen our friendship and continue some important work on the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the 7th March 2019, a party of teachers from Freetown set off on their flight to the UK. The journey was a long one, involving delays and assorted modes of transport including cars, buses, ferries and aeroplanes.

No sooner had they unpacked their bags than the Sierra Leone teachers were up and visiting their partner schools for the first time. For all of our schools in the Yorkshire & the Humber Cooperative Learning Trust, this constituted a training day at Priory Primary School.

Teachers had sessions on how to develop Greater Depth in pupils for reading, writing and maths. Following a busy and intense day of training, the schools in our cluster of global partners gathered for an evening meal to talk about the day we had just had and the plans for the rest of the visit.

Hull, Freetown, William Wilberforce and the history of Slavery are all intrinsically linked together. Despite near-horizontal rain and winds, we managed to get our Freetown visitors to Wilberforce's birthplace museum.

We have enjoyed showing Mrs Graham around the Wilberforce Museum.

The whole group of Freetown and Hull teachers enjoyed Wilberforce House.

As the sun appeared from behind the clouds, are visitors enjoyed walking around Hull Minster.

With the sunshine replacing the torrential rain, Eileen was able to see Hull in its true glory.

Freetown and Hull teachers enjoyed an afternoon at Hull Truck Theatre watching the production of Princess and the Hustler. It was a unanimous decision that it was a first-class play.

Our Freetown guests visited a church that one of the Hull Partner Teachers attends.

They then braved the weather to head over the Humber Bridge. It was cold!

We were overjoyed to welcome Mrs Eileen Graham, head of Adeline School in Freetown for a week of work with us at Stepney. Following a highly successful visit to Freetown last year, in which Mrs Graham and her staff made our two teachers feel very welcome, we were pleased she had finally arrived at Stepney.

We were able to give her a rousing welcome in a special assembly

Bathed in sunlight we showed Mrs Graham around our school, both inside and out so she could get a real sense of finally arriving at Stepney. Our two IPC representatives from year 6 showed Mrs Graham around before she went into lessons watching phonics and guided reading plus a host of other activities.

The main educational theme behind our current Global project with our colleagues in Freetown is about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We had a workshop for a joint group of Freetown and Hull teachers at the Deep, followed by a tour around this amazing centre. We were looking at plastic pollution in the oceans, which tied in with our theme of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On Tuesday, Mrs Graham got stuck into the year 6 science lesson all about filtration and cleaning dirty water (one of the SDGs). It's an experiment she has done with her pupils at Adeline School. This has also been part of our celebration of National Science Week.

We then had an International Pupil Council to remember at Priory Primary School. Teachers and Pupils from Hull Schools were joined by teachers from their partner schools from Freetown. It was just as well we'd decided to hold the meeting in their large hall. In the 9th year since it's conception by Mr Browning and Francis Mason, the IPC is stronger than ever. This is testament to the work of everyone concerned and especially Kathleen Guthrie and Mr Mason.

We all were doing lots of work on the Sustainable Development Goals and the International Pupil Councillors from around Hull had chance to ask Freetown teachers all about life in Sierra Leone. The African staff also taught them how to speak in Creole (or Krio).

Mrs Graham, Stepney's VIP from Adeline School in Freetown, led her fellow Sierra Leonian teachers in some traditional African songs at the IPC meeting this afternoon. Awe-inspiring! What a great time we all had!

A special banner, that was designed from pupils’ ideas in the UK and Africa was presented to the IPC by Mrs Graham this afternoon on behalf of Adeline and Stepney schools.

Throughout the whole afternoon, a film crew working for the British Council were recording this historic IPC meeting for their promotional purposes. We were all so excited to have the crew there.

After school, Stepney staff held a special reception buffet for our very own VIP from Adeline School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was wonderful to share some relaxing time with Mrs Graham. 

On Wednesday, the teachers in the Global Schools Partnership took part in the first joint Hull-Freetown conference at the Hull History Centre. There were four presentations with key note sessions led by the heads of different schools, plus a representative from the British Council and Mr Browning, who talked about Growth Mindsets.

One of the main sessions was once again on the Sustainable Development Goals and how we can educate our pupils on these and what the pupils can do to make this a better world.

It was a wonderfully successful conference.

In the evening, forty five teachers from Freetown and Hull met for a last meal as a group, before the Sierra Leone staff prepared for their return flight. In order to get into the spirit of things, Mrs Warcup, Miss Baitson and Mr Browning wore the African Clothes which Mrs Graham had sent them last year. 

This was the last day with our Freetown Colleagues and it was another very busy one. The film crew working for the British Council interviewed Miss Baitson and Mrs Graham, before filming in the year 4 classroom all morning. They wanted to know all about the Connecting Classrooms' project on the SDGs.

In 2010, Francis Mason and Mr Browning were talking on the top landing of the stairs at Stepney when they started discussing setting up the International Pupil Council. Now in 2019, with the British Council cameras rolling, they were joined by Kathleen Guthrie, who organises the Global Partnerships in Hull. 

We had a farewell assembly for Mrs Graham. Wearing the latest African shirts and dresses that Mrs Graham had brought with her, gifts were given by pupils and staff. English and African hymns were sung and plaques and banners exchanged to mark the end of a memorable week.

Setting off late on Thursday evening with a coach journey down to Heathrow, only to have a delayed flight, followed by a further delay in Brussels, our intrepid group of Hull teachers were still eager to arrive in Freetown during Friday. As always, the warm welcome from our colleagues Sierra Leone made up for the tiredness.

It was great to meet up with colleagues again. First stop was to the British Council building and some tour T-shirts.

Even though it's only been a few weeks since she visited Stepney, it was great to meet up again with Eileen Graham and then see the sights of the city, including the famous Cotton Tree, in the heart of Freetown.

On Sunday, the Hull teachers were welcomed to church services in Freetown. Eileen is a pastor in her local church.

After a long weekend, and in order to gather their energy for the forthcoming week in school, there was a little time to relax on the River Beach No 2, a favourite haunt of Freetown folk.

Miss Baitson was welcomed back in true Sierra Leonian style, as she returned to Adeline School in Freetown. Mrs Graham's pupils made sure she received a rapturous greeting from the whole school.

Last year, Adeline staff were having work done on a new upstairs set of classrooms so one of the first things to see was how these have been finished. Miss Baitson was keen to start work with the Adeline teachers on projects around Sustainable Development. 

Day Two saw Miss Baitson looking at some alternative objects that you can grow plants in. She started working on lessons that are all about reducing plastic in the oceans, combined with some creative & practical outcomes. This linked in with similar work that had been done at Stepney.

Everyone agreed that Tuesday's work deserved a resounding seal of approval for thinking about reducing plastic and 'life below water' but then using it to make something aritstic. There was also plenty of time to hear a poignant story about a plastic bag, named Stanley and some great discussions about the damage humans are doing to the oceans.

Miss Baitson and Mrs Graham took the two Adeliine International Pupil Councillors to Conforti School in Freetown on Wednesday. This school has wifi connectivity so that we were able to have a live video link with Miss Baitson's class 4 back at Stepney. Many thanks go to our YHCLT technician, Andy, who helped Mr Browning connect up. The line wasn't as clear as we'd hoped for, but it was still really exciting to be able to have this link. 

On Thursday, Miss Baitson joined in with the Adeline pupils planting seeds that had been sent from Stepney pupils, parents and staff. All the teachers then spent time evaluating a highly successful partnership project before final official farewells and thankyous, including even more stunning African costumes.

On a sad day, Miss Baitson bade farewell to Mrs Graham and her staff as she and the rest of the Hull teachers started their return journey back to the United Kingdom. Hopefully, it won't be too long before we meet up again. It has certainly helped to strengthen the bonds between our two school, out two cities and our two countries.


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