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.