Our school has been fortunate enough to be accepted on to several partnership projects with schools in Europe. The most recent project has just been completed with partner schools from Turkey, Spain, Greece, Poland, England and Czech Republic.
For the duration of the project, all of the schools work together on a common theme. Our chosen theme was based on the traditional tales of each country and was named “Me, Myself and My Tale.” The coordinators of each school met together at project meetings hosted by each country over the course of two years. At these meetings the teachers planned activities around the chosen theme. Work would then be carried out by the children in each school and examples of what they did were sent to each partner school.
Our pupils really enjoyed getting to know the stories of our partner schools. They took part in lots of writing, ICT and art activities and took great pleasure in seeing work from children in different countries. We had a school mascot, Godfrey Gadabout, a knitted clown doll who went on all of the trips to our partner countries, collecting badges and making lots of new friends along the way! Each class also had a knitted jelly baby, with a photo of the children on the front, which also went on the trips. In this way, our pupils were there in spirit, if not in body.
The trips were a valuable means of letting the staff in our school experience how the education systems in different countries are run. We came back with many new ideas and strategies that can be put into place within our own school.
Some of the teachers and children from our partner school in Czech Republic were able to come over this year for a week at the end of November. The teachers took part in job shadowing while the children came with the P5-7 children on their residential trip to Bushmills. The children and teachers alike had a wonderful time taking part in the activities, many of which they would not have the opportunity to do in their own country. In fact, for most of the children, it was the first time that they had seen the sea, as Czech Republic is a land-locked country.
After the Bushmills trip the Czech children came into school and joined the classes of their own ages. Our pupils were very welcoming, as usual, and the Czech children had the opportunity to experience a typical school day in Northern Ireland.
Although the Comenius Project has now finished, we have made many strong links and friends with the teachers in our partner schools. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to take part in another project at some stage in the future.
By C. Warwick