Pupils (aged between 8 and 13 years old) and teachers from as far afield as Greece and Lithuania stayed with youngsters at Glory Farm Primary School in Bicester last week as part of a European Union funded initiative that aims to help people learn about different countries and cultures. Glory Farm Primary School has been fortunate to be able to be involved in the EU funded Erasmus Project since September 2018. Erasmus is an EU organization that funds different types of Educational projects aimed at bringing schools together so that children can work with and learn about other children from differing countries and cultures in the EU. There are also opportunities for teachers to develop their skills through job shadowing visits and sharing good teaching practices.
The Project is called Drop of Water – A Reflection of Cultures. During the project, the children in the six partner schools engage in work about water, looking at how we get our supply, the science of water, the conservation of water and how the need for water has influenced our societies.
The EU’s Erasmus + scheme has allowed teachers and pupils in Year 6 from the school on Hendon Place to visit countries including Poland, Sicily and Lithuania with Spain and Greece planned for later in the school year. At the meetings, they present and share the work that has been done in their own schools as well as engaging in activities to further their knowledge and skills to take home with them. By the end of the project they will not only have learnt about water but will have learnt film making skills and contributed to a final film all about what they have learnt and what they think the future holds for this vital resource.
As well as all their hard work, the children also learn about their hosts. They stay with local families who have children in Year 5 or 6 at Glory Farm Primary School or Year 7 at The Cooper School and take part in all their family activities. They get to try new foods and discover what daily life is like in their host country. A lot of fun activities are also arranged for them and they learn to cooperate and communicate with the other children while they take part in them – despite a few language barriers.
On Sunday 13th October, the five partner schools arrived in Bicester to stay with host families for the week. They have been particularly impressed with the school itself and the visiting teachers spent a lot of time in classes collecting ideas for when they go home. Glory Farm Primary School entertained its visitors with a range of songs and dances that the children performed. The whole school also sang the song Drop in the Ocean which links to the Erasmus theme of Water with lyrics that demonstrate that we are all a part of the ever changing world and working together makes the world a better place. One of the visiting Polish teachers commented that they didn’t clap at the end as they had found the song so ‘moving and calm’ and felt that it was inappropriate to break the spell.
As well as spending time in the school on Hendon Place, they have had the opportunity to visit places in the local area which have a cultural connection with water over the years.
The Erasmus trip to Oxford started with a guided tour around the city, looking at the colleges, historical places and monuments. The group were fascinated to find out that one of the library buildings houses a copy of every book ever published in the UK. After lunch, the visitors went to different places – some to the top of Carfax Tower to appreciate the views over the city, others to the Ashmolean Museum, to the river, the Covered Market and Christchurch Cathedral. They were amazed by the sheer number of beautiful buildings and places they had seen in television shows such as Inspector Morse (quite popular in Europe apparently!) And of course, the places featured in Harry Potter films.
On Thursday, the visitors arrived to a very quiet but watery Stratford-Upon Avon. The river had burst its banks, with the water almost over-flowing onto the pavement. The children from Glory Farm Primary School and visiting countries spent time in William Shakespeare’s House finding out lots of interesting facts about him and his family. The visitors took plenty of photos of the river, swans and the beautiful Tudor buildings in the town centre.
After the end of a very busy day, the visiting countries along with their host families, visited Garth House and met Jason Slaymaker, Bicester Town Mayor, to learn all about his role in the town. Jason is a former pupil of Glory Farm Primary School, so it was especially poignant. Gifts were exchanged by all the visiting countries with the Mayor as well as Jason reciprocating.
Banbury was the visit planned for Friday and they all visited The Banbury Museum. The focus was on canals as part of our culture. The children enjoyed learning about canals since the 1700’s; recreating canal art and finished the day off by enjoying a trip on a canal boat. The Erasmus + visitors commented that it had been a great day which was full of information. “The boat trip was fantastic!” the children said.
The guests from Europe as well as local students from The Cooper School had the opportunity to create a news report all about water. The children were asked to create a short script that talked about climate issues affecting the water as well as possible solutions. Led by a Glory Farm Primary School teacher, they had the opportunity to write, rehearse and perform in front of a camera inside The Media Studio at The Cooper School. Being part of the Bicester Learning Academy, Glory Farm Primary School is fortunate to be able to use the facilities that a secondary school can offer and the children benefitted from being able to use the Green Screen and all the IT equipment available to them, supported by technicians.
During their week in Bicester, they have also visited Rebound Revolution (an action-packed trampoline park in the town) and had a Halloween Disco at school as well as dancing and competing in a quiz one evening in school.
Over this last weekend, the European visiting countries left to return to their own schools. Mrs Jane MacLachlan, Headteacher of Glory Farm Primary School said that she was particularly proud of the way that the school had responded to the request for host families. She also commented that, “The feedback from the European countries has been exceptional. The whole school community will have lots of memories to treasure as well as hopes for the future. In our ever changing world, it is important that we offer a curriculum to our children that is ambitious and offers aspirations. Being a part of this EU funded project has enabled us to ensure we are constantly striving for the best for our children.”