Teachers and principals from British and South African schools met at Golden Grove Primary School late last month, where they discussed an initiative that is helping to forge bonds between schools in the two countries.
Connecting Classrooms is an initiative launched last September by the British Council and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID)
Its aim is to improve the professional development of teachers and principals and build international school partnerships.
Golden Grove principal Dawn Petersen and six teachers from various Cape Town schools visited the UK in June as part of the programme.
Ms Petersen visited Knowle Primary School in Plymouth, where she noticed that some of the classes had three to four teaching assistants and specialist tutors for subjects like art and music.
Ms Petersen said she picked up on useful educational trends in the UK. The partnerships being forged wouldn’t just benefit teachers but pupils as well.
“It helps us to encourage children to be critical thinkers and because of the partnerships, it helps us to enable staff to be critical thinkers in problem solving.”
Shane Johnson, acting deputy principal of Blomvlei Primary School in Hanover Park, visited Mount Wise Community School andMayflowerCommunity School in Plymouth.
“Blomvleicandefinitely become a better school and community if we implement their writing skills, reading enthusiasm and implement their recycling programme.
“And I would encourage any teacher or school to be part of the British Council Connecting Classroom initiative,” he said.
Principal David How and teacher Rihula Sameer-Mour, from Beaver Road Primary School in Manchester visited Constantia, St Anthony’s and Zeekoevlei primary schools in their one-week visit to Cape Town.
Mr How said it was a learning experience he could share with his pupils.
“Cape Town is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city, and Africa has a fantastic history and culture which our country is totally unaware of,” he said.
Ms Sameer-Mour said she had found Capetonian schools to be very environmentally conscious.
“What I will take back to my pupils is to tell them that the classrooms may be different, but the ethos and the things they are learning are the same.”
Mike McPaul, project coordinator in the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms Manchester branch, visited St Joseph’s Maritz College as well as Ocean View, Golden Grove and Constantia primary schools.
“I would like to share with my colleagues in Manchester that the programme is working and teachers are making good relationships and communicating well with the pupils,” he said.
Thabisa Ndlazi, project manager from British Council office in Cape Town, said Connecting Classrooms was about preparing young people to live and work in a global society.