A group including 13 local teachers have just spent ten days in Hastings, Sierra Leone using their half-term break to work in African partner schools sharing experiences to bring back to their classrooms in the UK.
The group was led by Isabel Hodger, one of the Hastings Friendship Link’s Education Liaison Officers. The group headed out to Sierra Leone on February 9 for a ten day trip.
Links between Hastings, Sierra Leone and Hastings, East Sussex have been developing since the towns twinned in 2007.
Also joining the trip were Richard Lane and Jenna French, two local solicitors who were heading out to share their sporting expertise which was being eagerly anticipated by the host schools in the other Hastings which twinned with it’s East Sussex namesake in 2007.
Health and Education are top national priorities in Sierra Leone Christine Boulton-Lane was travelling with the group to continue her work in the area of health.
Schools and Academies represented in the exchange are All Saints’, The Baird, Chantry (Bexhill) Christ Church, Hollington and Guestling Bradshaw Primaries and St Leonards Secondary Academy.
Classroom projects will be based around themes suggested by the British Council as part of its financial and educational support for the exchange.
Links between schools here and in Hastings Sierra Leone have been developing since the twinning of the two towns, Roger Mitchell, who has been involved from the beginning, said: “It has been a real privilege to witness the impact these exchanges continue to make on teachers both here and in Sierra Leone and how the education of their pupils is enhanced as a result”.
Fay Jagot says she has never seen such enthusiasm from children.
Fay Jagot, from Battle and Langton School, has recently joined the partnership and says: “I have worked with children for 20 years, yet have never previously witnessed such enthusiasm from children to find out, learn and correspond across the miles”.
Corinne Harris from Dudley Infant School who has been involved for several years said, “Our link with Edest School has been an empowering project for pupils and teachers alike. Children both in the UK and in Africa have benefited greatly by meeting visitors from their partner schools.
As well as time to relax out of school, there will be a whole day Education Conference held at the headquarters of the British Council in Freetown.
Some members of the group will find time to see for themselves the devastation caused by the recent mud-slides in the hills between Hastings and Freetown. They will meet some of the surviving but displaced families being helped by donations from folk associated with the Hastings Friendship Link.
It is hoped that a return party can visit the UK towards the end of the Summer Term.
Find out more about the Friendship Link and the work it is doing in Hastings, Sierra Leone at the website: https://www.Hastingshastings.org.uk/about/