I have been asked many times why I moved to Australia. Aside from the lifestyle-related responses (weather, sport, and more of which you can read about on my blog), there are a number of professional reasons I wanted to teach in a different environment to the UK state school system. I have only taught here for a month, and it is now the school holidays, so this is only a first glimpse.
Some of the most special moments during my recent visit to Rukungiri, Uganda this June were at the project at Kitazigurukwa Primary School where we spent much of our time. The SEN school and dormitories for the disabled children are already in place and so we have been working on a kitchen and storage building specifically for the children and then another for the teachers house.
I love it when a member of our school team follows through on an idea or project about which they are passionate. Passion drives innovation and this is certainly the case for our school’s Digital Learning specialist, Mrs Karen Stadler.
During the course of 2012, Karen visited the wonderful Kruger National Park with her family. A trip to a watering hole was to be a defining moment as she witnessed five magnificent rhino arrive to drink the water and wallow in the mud. She realised that within a year there was a possibility that some, if not all, of these gracious creatures may have been killed by poachers.
This realisation moved her into action and she set up a Global Classroom Project known as The Travelling Rhinos. This involved having five small rhinos, which were made and covered in traditional African Shweshwe fabric, sent to schools in South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ireland and the USA to teach pupils about the plight of the rhinos in Africa.
The internet and modern transport offer unprecedented opportunities for pupils to learn about - and even experience - faraway countries, their peoples and different cultures. As part of a study in global community cohesion, we heard from the international co-ordinator at George Abbot School, a state secondary in Guilford, about the benefits of its partnerships with schools in different parts of the world.
George Abbot, which has held the International School Award since 2003, has links with schools in France, Germany, Canada, Tanzania, China, India and South Africa. These partnerships have enabled its pupils to experience different cultures and engage in some truly inspiring programmes.