Scots teachers take learning global in Rwanda

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It won’t be their usual summer break, and it’ll be a whole new classroom. The teaching will be different and their home life filled with cultural experiences and challenges. However, there will be bags of inspiration, enthusiasm, similarities and a warm welcome when fifteen Scottish teachers leave their classrooms behind on the last day of term and head to Rwanda to live and work for four weeks.

Fifteen teachers from the Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Angus area are taking part in the Global Learning Partnerships (GLP) programme, a learning opportunity that will greatly improve and support the long-term development of global education within their schools and enhance global citizenship values in young people.

The programme is run by The Wood Foundation (TWF), the philanthropic charity created by Sir Ian Wood and family in 2007. The programme falls under the ‘Developing Young People in Scotland’ category with the main focus on global citizenship. Other areas focused on by TWF in this category are youth philanthropy, childhood poverty, and positive pathways for young people leaving full-time education.

The GLP experience enriches practitioners while interweaving the effects of globalisation with Learning for Sustainability, providing children in Scotland with a unique and fascinating insight into another culture through the teachers’ experience of working and living in the East-African communities.

While overseas, the practitioners will also provide mentor support to enhance and improve the development of their East-African counterparts. Fully immersing themselves in the lifestyle aims to boost the teachers’ confidence, knowledge and understanding of teaching for Learning for Sustainability, returning to nurture socially responsible, outward looking pupils.

The fifteen teachers heading to Rwanda this summer will be the second cohort of teachers visiting Rwanda through the GLP programme after it was established in 2013, with the first group of teachers taking part in summer 2014.

Over the next few months Teaching Scotland will be following two teachers as they travel to Rwanda during the summer holidays as part of the GLP programme.

Food for thought as pupils take on the Rice Challenge

Fairtrade project is a hit at Gourock Primary and Lenzie Academy

During a visit to Malawi in 2008, JTS Chair John Riches discovered that a farmer must sell 90kg of rice to fund one year of secondary education. In Malawi, secondary education is not free and only one in three children attend high school. And so the 90kg Rice Challenge began.

The Challenge suits a range of subjects and has proved popular, with more than 700 school groups taking part. Supporting fairtrade initiatives promotes responsible citizenship and is a key element of CfE.

JTS empowers and educates producers and consumers through the fair purchasing and sale of food products from the developing world. They facilitate the import and distribution of fairtrade products to the UK.

It’s becoming ever more important that we do our bit to ensure producers receive a fair price for their produce, and JTS seeks to provide sustainable incomes for small holder farmers. One way is through our 90kg Rice Challenge.

Gourock Primary School even has its own Global Citizen group to co-ordinate sales.

A school spokesman said: “This has been a huge success and we have sold three batches of the Kilombero rice. Our Global Citizen group is very enthusiastic about the challenge and are passionate about selling because they believe they can make a huge difference to a Malawian child’s life.”

Lenzie Academy has taken on multiple challenges, most recently incorporating Kilombero rice into an Enterprise project for S2 pupils.

ICET World Assembly – Moving forward in curriculum, pedagogy and leadership

I recently attended this conference to present papers from the GTCS in partnership with Glasgow University and SCEL. The presentations focused on the recent research Gillian Hamilton and I had been involved in with our colleagues in Glasgow on sustaining teacher professional learning and models of leadership and learning in Scotland. We are also hoping that these papers will be published in the near future.

ICET’s main focus is to promote high quality education for all learners and to improve the learning experiences and outcomes for all learners across the world by providing opportunities for those involved in their education to share knowledge, practice, resources, expertise and to build strategic partnerships. The conference was an opportunity to do exactly that by bringing educators from all over the world to Ontario for three days to focus on high quality teaching and learning. Organising a conference of this size and magnitude is not easy and there had been considerable difficulties with visas for colleagues from Nigeria which had resulted in headaches for the organisers and non attendance for some of the Nigerian educators. However colleagues from Pakistan, Portugal, Jamaica, America, Canada, Uganda, England and Australia were among the delegates at the conference and all brought such interesting and diverse experiences and perspectives.

I attended several seminars led by Nigerian educators, there was a strong focus on Inclusion and Justice, research findings were presented about the educational issues for street children and learners with special needs and how counselling strategies can enable and empower these children. There was also a really interesting session about the remaining British influence in many of the Nigerian schools and how this leads the children and young people in Nigeria to be confused about their cultural identity and can lead to a perception that British and American values and culture are the way to be successful in this world often to the detriment of their own indigenous culture.

It was inspiring to listen to the experiences of educators in Uganda who shared with us their progress in retaining girls in school who become pregnant. In Uganda the leading cause for girls to drop out of school and fail to re-enter is pregnancy. Almost 12% of girls between 15 and 19 years were pregnant while 19% had given birth and almost 20% were married. The researchers from Uganda were exploring a systematic solution to the continuing education of these girls which would be acceptable to all those involved including the government

There were many more stories from various parts of the world relating to the impact of poverty on the educational opportunities and chances for children and young people and though we see this also in Scotland we do not have systemic opposition to education, particularly for girls, that many other parts of the world experience.

From the conference in Oshawa I travelled with my colleague John Daffurn from the Scottish College of Educational Leadership (SCEL) to Ontario where we had meetings with the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Principals College. We discussed the Ministry’s initiative to improve the achievement of all students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools and about teacher professional learning to support these initiatives. What was very impressive was the significant amounts of money from the Canadian government to invest in teacher learning and leadership development across Canada and how this is informed by research and literature. Michael Fullan and Ken Leithwood, both leading writers in these areas, inform and guide the Ministry and support with policy development.

I particularly liked how the Ministry of Education had researched what the learners thought about teaching and learning and what they were looking for in excellent teaching.

I think the learners in Scotland would share some of their Canadian peers’ reflections.

After these visits it was time to return to Edinburgh and though it was a short visit and a very packed timetable it was worthwhile in what I learned and also what the delegates learned from us about Scottish Education during the two seminars we presented and the professional discussions we engaged in our time in Canada.

Pupils shine a light on global education

Unique solar light carol concert staged as part of Scotland Lights up Malawi education programme

Carol singing by solar light took place at St Mark’s Primary School, East Renfrewshire, as part of the Scotland Lights up Malawi project. The innovative approach to the traditional Christmas concert was part of the Barrhead primary school’s participation in Keep Scotland Beautiful and Eco-Schools Scotland’s education programme for the project.

The Keep Scotland Beautiful-led programme uses the story of SolarAid’s work in Malawi to highlight important issues around energy, poverty, climate change, solar light, global citizenship and sustainability.

Through the project, Keep Scotland Beautiful is working with schools from across Scotland to encourage children and young people to increase their understanding of these issues and to develop their communication and citizenship skills.

Education staff from Keep Scotland Beautiful are working with Solar Aid to produce exciting classroom resources and materials closely linked to Curriculum for Excellence, providing a professional learning programme for teachers involved and, in the summer term, running a Dragon’s Den style competition for P6-S2 children where they create a campaign to raise awareness of climate change, lighting issues in Malawi and how solar lights can make a real difference.

Schools from the following areas are signed up to the Scotland Lights up Malawi project: South Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Dundee, East Renfrewshire, West Lothian, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Aberdeen City, Fife, South Ayrshire, Highland, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Angus, Glasgow, Orkney, Falkirk and Western Isles.

Christine Healey of St Mark’s Primary School, said:

“The children have thoroughly enjoyed using solar lights to light our Christmas Carol Concert and it has given them a real insight into the reality faced by children and families in Malawi and the way they light their homes. The children are now very keen to learn more about Malawi and are looking forward to working more on the Scotland Lights up Malawi project in the New Year.”

Derek Robertson of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“Keep Scotland Beautiful is very pleased to be working with teachers and pupils from 20 school clusters across the country on the Scotland Lights up Malawi project, to increase understanding of the importance of solar light for Malawi’s children and their access to education. St Mark’s Primary’s solar light carol concert was a great way of demonstrating the real effects of lighting issues and climate change across the globe in the context of a traditional event we can easily take for granted in Scotland.

Why You Need To Take Your Child to Primary Science Workshop

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Young kids are inquisitive by nature, they are ready to try out new things and most of the time, what they may be doing may look subtle but it has an overall effect on their thinking and creativity.  Although parents may find it difficult to get the right equipment and tools to do the experiments, getting them learn on the best way to do the experiments is a straight way forward in their learning.

Why take your child out

Compared to other outdoor activities, primary science workshops are crucial as it helps to open up the minds of the kids, they serve to enhance their creativity, risk handling and even risk exposure. For instance, when certain results are desired, the kid may be forced to think hard and come up with a way in which they will achieve the results. More to this, the kid is exposed to the realities of science, for instance, some simple experiments like raising hair electrons may trigger the future career desires of the child.

Another great reasons to take your child out for the experiments is setting a foundation for their future, science has played a big role in changing the lives of humans, when they come to appreciate the art of science and its value. They will have a great impact on the lives of humans leading to more innovations in the future, with a clear foundation in science; the kids generally have a better life.

Science is usually ore engaging and fun, with a great workshop that has all the elements of science and history. The child is more prone to enjoy the live of science. Take for instance, meeting a spaceman in a replica of Apollo space suit. Things like launching paper airplanes, meeting a skeleton may be an ordinary thing for an adult; however, it is quite amazing for a child.

Some mind opening activities for your child

Wild science, this is a simple animal education workshop that exposes your kid to animal teachers, habitats, life cycles, rainforest or even school workshops. By giving inspiration through discovery, the kids get quality education through the animal workshop. Another great science exposure is on forensic science workshops, this include crime and punishment, detectives, working scientifically. Such an exposure raises the child aspiration and the attainment of science.

Other experiments that may be helpful for your child include the working science, this looks into chemistry, electricity, rockets, space. The main objective of this is to create a craving for science before they reach secondary schools. The KS2, fossils and rocks help them have some need for knowledge on how earth formations happened; knowing more about the earth can be an amazing experience for your young child. Aquatic and marine science is also another field that kids have an interest in and it’s long forgotten, when kids get a comprehensive aquatic education, the expertise of marine biology experts come to life.

Final thought

Although many parents may see the experiments as subtle, time and resource consuming, the changes that are impacted on the life of your child are not to go unnoticed. There is a kind of revolution where parents prefer taking their kids outs to more engaging and educative concerts. Letting your child get involved in primary science workshop is a way forward for any kid.