Gotherington Primary School

The Lawns, Gotherington, Cheltenham, GL52 9QT

Connecting Classrooms

Developing links across the world
Our school has great pride with the links it has developed with other countries. We are proud to have partnered up with other schools within the EU and Africa. The whole school is involved - children and staff work together in different curriculum areas aiming for a cross-curricular approach. They are able to set up links with one another and share experiences and project work that they complete.

What are the benefits for our school?
  • children and staff are really excited when they make strong links with other countries
  • children and staff have direct contact with other cultures and languages
  • ideas and good practice are shared
  • team building opportunities
  • enhanced cross-curricular approach
  • development of new teaching strategies and materials
  • development of communication and creative skills for pupils
  • long-term friendships with people from other countries
Our partner schools are from Kenya, The GambiaItaly, Holland and Sweden.
GG Kinamba Primary School, Kenya
With the support of funding from The British Council, Gotherington is one of 22 schools from Gloucestershire who have embarked on a ‘Connecting Classrooms’ project with 22 primary schools in Laikipia County, Kenya. 
Having been introduced to our partner school, GG Kinamba Primary School, we launched our partnership with a whole school ‘Kenya Day’ at the beginning of September 2015.  Later that month, Mr Kinaro Kinyua, Deputy Headteacher at GG Kinamba, travelled to Gloucestershire with a group of Headteachers from neighbouring Laikipia County schools.  He spent 12 days visiting Gotherington and other local primary schools and spent time in every classroom, talking to children about life in rural Kenya, answering questions and participating in curriculum lessons.  We also hosted a special assembly for some of the other visiting Headteachers and the children welcomed them to Gotherington with songs, which they performed in Swahili.
In October 2015, Mrs Johnson and Mrs Woolston travelled to Kenya, to visit GG Kinamba Primary School.  The children were very excited to meet them and were delighted to receive letters written by the children at Gotherington.  Mrs Johnson and Mrs Woolston spent time visiting all of the classes at GG Kinamba, observing lessons and teaching, answering questions about life in the UK and finding out about education in Kenya.  The children particularly enjoyed learning some traditional British songs and writing letters back to their new English penpals!
The visits have enabled us to develop a strong partnership with GG Kinamba and we have already completed a number of joint curriculum projects.  In addition to exchanging letters, children throughout the school have taken part in a ‘Traditional Tales’ curriculum project, where they have written and illustrated their own versions of traditional stories, which have been made into story books to be read by children at GG Kinamba.  We are looking forward to receiving some traditional African tales from GG Kinamba soon! Our children have also contributed to a British ‘Culture Box’, which has been sent to GG Kinamba, to provide children there with an insight into our culture, values and sense of local community.  In November, Year 5 invited their parents and the rest of the school to a Kenya themed assembly, which enabled them to share and celebrate their Kenya topic work, including models, artwork, posters and leaflets, songs, letters, recounts and lots of photographs and video clips from GG Kinamba and the surrounding area.  We are currently planning to organize fundraising events to support the development of GG Kinamba’s new school library and look forward to engaging in further joint initiatives as our partnership continues to develop.

'Festivals of Europe'
One of our European projects was called "Festivals of Europe" and it explored and shared the festivals celebrated in each country. The aims of our project were for pupils to broaden their knowledge and understanding of Europe and of being a European, celebrating our similarities and differences, and to develop European and global citizenship within the school and the wider community. Over three years, we has been achieved by exchanging information about festivals celebrated and community activities. During the first year, the pupils concentrated on exchanging information about their country and school and school grounds, and share Christmas, New Year and Easter experiences. Any community activities were shared as and when they happened. In the second year, the project extended to school traditions, visits and trips. The third year focused on the children’s involvement in village and local area festivals.
During the course of the project, pupils in the partner schools began to use many different forms of correspondence, letters, faxes, email, videos and video conferencing. They shared work, data, art work, language and other relevant areas of the school curriculum, enhancing their skills both in their own language and exposing them to a variety of other languages at a basic level. They were also instrumental in disseminating information about the project to a wider audience, parents, governors, the local community etc, thus benefiting their presentation, speaking and listening skills.
Participation in a project such as this gave the pupils a greater understanding of the similarities and differences in traditions amongst our countries. The children in many of the KS2 classes also had a pen pal from one of the partner countries, with whom they communicated regularly via email or letters. Staff from each school also communicated regularly and shared samples of children's work, gifts and presentations. The response from the children was hugely enthusiastic and their knowledge of the cultures and festivals increased dramatically.
GG Kinamba Primary School, Kenya
Kenyan visitors at Gotherington September 2015
Sambel Kunda Olympic and Donkey Cart Projects

Our on-going partnership with Sambel Kunda has reached new heights. The children in both schools have taken part in a very competitive Olympic Challenge event which saw pupils compete in events such as the sprint, long distance, hurdles and the 'howler' throw. The pupils at Gotherington raised money for new equipment such as stopwatches and measuring tapes by completing a sponsored run. Fund-raising efforts at Gotherington have also seen the funding for donkey carts which will help the children at Sambel Kunda travel to school.

Developing links around the world

With the help and support of FOGS, the school is delighted that we are in a position to establish new links with a school in the Gambia. It is hoped that future fundraising efforts will be used to support schemes that are taking place in the school, such as providing the children with play equipment. The link will also be used to educate children about the similarities and differences between our school and one in Africa. We have already found out that the children wear blue uniforms, love playing football and have their own vegetable garden. They are also about to make use of the old play equipment near to Gotherington Village Hall. This is an exciting link and one we hope will continue for many years.