SS John and Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Birmingham and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Studley hosted a visit of 34 staff and pupils from our International Partner schools (11–15 February 2014).
Both UK schools are involved in a Comenius Multi-Lateral Project about Sustainability and Recycling that has been running since September 2012. As part of the project teachers and pupils get the opportunity to visit the other partner countries to experience aspects of the project in those countries and to see the work of schools in delivering sustainable education.
Teachers and children came from Turkey (Eyüboğlu School, Istanbul), Sweden (Edvardslundsskolan, Eskilstuna), Menorca (Col legi Salesia Sant Francesc de Sales, Ciutadella) and Austria (Absdorf Volksschule, Absdorf) to see how the UK manages to reduce, reuse and recycle and how these important activities are promoted. They spent 2 days at each UK school taking part in curriculum activities and enjoying exploring the diversity and culture on offer in Birmingham and Stratford. Since the project began visits to Lower Austria, Istanbul, Eskilstuna and Ciutadella have already taken place.
A welcome meal held on 11th February to welcome the visitors to Birmingham was attended by the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, Paul Walmsley (Birmingham Primary Catholic Partnership), Father Dominic Innamorati (St John and Martin’s, Balsall Heath) and staff and Governors from the UK schools. Visitors were presented with gifts from Birmingham to take back to their schools.
To start the week of activities the adult visitors were taken on a very informative tour of the incinerator and household recycling centre in Tyseley, led by Tony Richardson, Veolia’s Education Officer. While this was happening the children from our partner schools were split between classes at SS John and Monica’s and took part in recycling projects such as building a Tudor Village from old boxes and finding out about Fairtrade. Visitors were taken to a Birmingham curry night, a must do event when visiting the city; this turned out to be quite an experience for some of our international colleagues!
A definite highlight of the week was a musical prepared and delivered by KS2 pupils from SS John and Monica’s. ‘A Big Green Adventure’ was part of the school’s response to teaching children about environmental awareness and taking care of the planet, in a child friendly way. Over 160 invited guests came to watch the performance and we were very privileged to welcome the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands (Mr Paul Sabapathy, OBE) and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (Councillor Mike Leddy). Other guests included Birmingham City Council, Veolia and local resident’s associations/business leaders.
Following the production, each visiting country prepared a presentation about life in their country and how they have been working on the joint project aims in their schools. The pupils from SS John and Monica’s were very interested to learn about the visitors and also to eat the treats from each country!
The project moved to St Mary’s, Studley for the last part of the week. They were welcomed with an assembly and had a very exciting and very competitive skittles evening! On the last day of the project visit the visitors had an opportunity to work with WEAVE Recycle from Warwickshire making creatures using recycled materials. The project visit was successfully rounded up at a Valentine’s Disco run by the St Mary’s PTA who decorated the school beautifully to give the visitors and families from the school a lovely evening.
The whole week was a wonderful example of collaborative learning about important global and local issues related to sustainability. The next step in the project will be a final project meeting in Sweden in May. All countries involved in the project hope to continue working together beyond the anticipated end of this set of activities.