Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) welcomed Mr Zablon Maina, headteacher at Sawa Sawa Academy (SSA) in Kenya, for a week-long visit in November.
BSCS has been partnered with SSA since January 2013, following a visit to Kenya by BSCS teacher Tom Hill which inspired him to set up a link that could benefit both schools and their respective communities.
Mr Hill explained: “The objective of the partnership is to develop a mutually beneficial and sustainable link. We want to support both schools and communities by offering them opportunities to experience how the education systems in Kenya and the UK work, learning from each other and sharing examples of best practice.”
Initially the link grew slowly, with students setting up pen-pal links, small fundraising efforts and some opportunities to develop learning in the classroom. Then, in July 2014, BSCS took a group of seven Post-16 students out to Kenya and they taught lessons, renovated classrooms and interacted with the students and teachers. They also got to explore the local area – snorkelling, going on safari and enjoying the beach!
A similar trip is currently being planned for 2017, when it is hoped that students will additionally have the opportunity to undertake some community work in Kenya (working at a turtle sanctuary).
Mr Hill continued: “With the help of a grant obtained through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms Scheme, we managed to arrange for Mr Maina to visit BSCS. This took a great deal of planning – getting him a passport, visa, necessary vaccinations etc.”
In addition to his programme at BSCS, Mr Maina also spent time at two other Olympus Academy Trust schools: Abbeywood and Meadowbrook. He also took the opportunity to visit Old Trafford (his dream, as he is a big Manchester United fan) and London.
“BSCS students loved having Mr Maina in school and it is great for them to learn about how students from other countries and cultures learn and experience education,” added Mr Hill.
“I think the visit was a huge success and made our link with SSA feel very ‘real’. It was a pleasure hosting Mr Maina and I know he went back with lots of ideas to use in his school, at the same time as giving us ideas that we could use here. I just hope it wasn’t too cold for him!”
Mr Maina commented: “I had a fantastic time in the UK and can’t thank all the staff and students enough for their generosity during my stay. SSA will really benefit from this link and I hope this visit will make it go from strength to strength.”
Looking to the future, Mr Hill said: “We are hoping that Mr Maina’s visit will be a catalyst for the link to grow stronger. We are planning for my students to be involved with the pen pal links, and are looking for more opportunities for students to learn about Kenya in their lessons and also thinking about how we can support the school and their community. It would be great if we could sponsor one of the SSA students through their schooling and watch them progress and achieve and have opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise have been open to them.”
“We will also be looking at whether we can get more members of the SSA community over to the UK – perhaps next time we could get some students over?”
Photo: Steve Moir, headteacher at BSCS, welcomes Zablon Maina at the start of his week-long visit to the school.
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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