Along with staff and students from our local partner schools, Greenholm Primary and Lichfield Cathedral School, they visited the Department for International Development to talk to ministers and staff about our partnership with two schools in Sierra Leone. This followed a visit to Great Barr School by International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, who was so impressed with the partnership, he wanted officials at the Department for International Development (DIFD) to hear about it.
They were personally greeted by International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, who introduced him to the DFID staff in London. The pupils gave a presentation about the impressive work they have accomplished in Sierra Leone, including fundraising for and implementing a number of development projects, with fantastic results.
In recent years, among other things, they have:
refurbished classrooms and built a computer suite in Sierra Leone;
taught staff and students how to use computers and software;
distributed mosquito nets and presented classes to refugee camp residents about how best to combat malaria.
In addition, as a good example of the benefits school partnerships can bring to schools in the UK and overseas, the pupils will record a podcast for the DFID website.
On hearing the experiences and accomplishments of the pupils, Andrew Mitchell said, “I was delighted to have pupils from Great Barr School, Greenholm Primary and Lichfield Cathedral School at DFID yesterday. When I visited them at their school in September last year, I was so impressed by the work they are doing in Sierra Leone that I wanted officials at my department to hear about it for themselves. It´´s great to see how involved and enthusiastic these children are and how much they´´ve learnt about poverty reduction and the lives that other children live, in Sierra Leone. They have made a real difference to their partner schools and their communities.
“This is a fantastic example of how linking schools in the UK with those in developing countries can both contribute directly to poverty reduction and inspire children to learn more about the world. I look forward to announcing my plans for a revitalised schools partnership programme soon.”
Mrs Abbott, our Headteacher, said, “We are immensely honoured that our project has been recognised in this way and that we can help encourage other schools to make a big difference to their world.
“Our whole school is totally committed to this project. It has taught our pupils that when we work together we can have a huge impact. We have been developing this project for over four years now and so our pupils have seen the power of persistence. Each year we have set ourselves a new challenge and so the project has grown. It has shown our pupils that young people are powerful agents of change.
“The project enriches and enlarges our school, giving all of our pupils an opportunity to show that they can care for others. It has released ‘an impulse to care’ in hundreds of pupils who will never go over to Sierra Leone, but have been inspired by the success of this project to champion other causes too.”
Mr Morland, the Advanced Skills Teacher who has to a great extent led our efforts, said, “It was so gratifying to see how genuinely impressed and interested the MPs and civil servants at DFID were in what we have achieved so far. For us to be asked advice by people with their expertise really was an honour.
“The meeting has given an enormous boost to keep us striving further and harder to reduce poverty and improve the life chances of kids in Sierra Leone. The contacts we made with the officials at DIFD can only serve to enhance the progress of our project.”
Keep an eye on the website for further updates – this project has a long way to go yet!
(Many thanks to Simon Davis (DIFD) for the photographs taken in London)