Archives for April 2012

Health Around the World - a large and complicated subject

World Class Virginia | 17:38 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Anti-smoking poster drawn by pupils in Malawi showing a woman with a pipe


But this is precisely what schools in Scotland and Malawi have been exploring.


Pumpherston and Uphall Station Community Primary School, in West Lothian, has been looking into what health means.

Using resources from the charity Link Community Development, the pupils in Scotland looked at preventable diseases in their community and compared this with their partner school in Malawi, Kamtedza Primary.

The schools also reflected on the importance of clean water and a good diet.

Notable differences emerged in how the Scottish and Malawi pupils defined being healthy. Pupils in Scotland referred to keeping healthy as participating in exercise and not eating food with high fat or sugar content but rather foods that are high in vitamins.

Having a balanced diet with the recommended five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables was thought of as important.

Children in Malawi thought not smoking or drinking alcohol was important in order to stay in good physical shape. They also thought that it was useful to know how your organs and body work in order to keep them healthy.

As part of their activities the Pumpherston pupils also put together a questionnaire looking at how HIV and malaria affect children’s health in Malawi. 

“The pupils were quite alarmed to see how widespread disease is in Malawi,” said Scottish teacher Carina Ramos.

They found out from the questionnaire that the dangers of HIV are taught to Malawi children in primary schools, and children are educated about how HIV is contracted and are told how to keep safe and protected from the condition.

“The pupils were shocked to hear that people who suffer from HIV become isolated in society because others are afraid of contracting it from them,” added Ms Ramos.

The pupils in Scotland now want to know about personal stories that some of the children in Malawi have and how they have been changed by these live events.

They also want to share experiences of occasions when pupils have been poorly at their own schools and how they were treated.

Ms Ramos said of the project: “The pupils have really taken the lead on this and are curious to know more. An insight into another country and how life is different in other parts of the world has really opened their eyes.”  

New perspectives

World Class Virginia | 11:42 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2012


Image of pupils and teachers in Trinidad and Tobago

A busy classroom in Trinidad and Tobago

Picture a small room, partitioned with blackboards. These cubicles are your classrooms. Your school is in the Caribbean.

Five primary school head teachers from the London borough of Islington recently went on a study tour to Tobago and this is what they saw. 

With no walls to divide the space and different lessons taking place at the same time, these classrooms are noisy and it can be difficult to concentrate.  But this is normal and the children there are used to it.

The Islington Head teachers are part of the Maamulaha Network and as they entered a Tobago classroom for the first time, the children aged 5 were eager to show off examples of their written English.

“They write beautifully” said Yvette Allen of the charitable organisation Uel Network, who organised the trip.

“But not all of them can read what they have written,” she added.

For these primary school children in Tobago to read and understand what they have written comes later in the curriculum. The teaching style here is very traditional, the content of the lesson is written on the blackboard for the pupils to copy. 

“There is limited access to resources, but the Caribbean teachers are so determined to help their pupils succeed and really make the most of what they have,” says Yvette.

The school day usually started with Christian assembly which the children stand for, sometimes for up to half an hour, but this was something the visiting teachers were more than happy to do.

One of the head teachers Mark Miller said of the trip: “I enjoyed visiting the schools, talking to children and teachers to get a general feel for how schools were working and the challenges they face. This was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

The head teachers made the trip to Tobago between 6-10 February. 

Olympic Torch visits Highfields Blog

World Class Virginia | 14:42 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Olympic Torch will visit one of the Olympic Dreams Network Schools.

Highfields School in Matlock, Derbyshire will welcome the torch to the school on June 29th when it comes to the area as part of the relay.   

Highfields is twinned with Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm’s former school, St John Fisher in Brisbane.

Teacher Jayne Allen said: “This is a huge honour for the school everyone here is really excited by the news.”

The day will also be one to remember for Hannah Rosenbaum in year 8 who has won a school competition design competition.

Pupils in years 7&8 (12-13) were asked to design a torch in their design lessons and Hannah’s winning design is now being made into a real torch and will be on show when the Olympic torch pays Highfields a visit.

Hannah said: “I’m shocked, it is so unexpected.”

Her torch design which includes the Olympic logo as part of its handle, will help open the school’s mini-olympics where Highfields will join forces with thirteen other local schools for the mammoth sports day.

Jayne added: “Each year group will adopt a country and compete against each other in sports like tennis and volleyball. The event is getting bigger and bigger and we are expecting nearly 1000 pupils to be taking part.”

This completes a double celebration for Team Seebohm after Emily clinched her place at the Olympics by winning the women’s 100m backstroke final at the Australian swimming trials in March.

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