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Greetings from Tshepisa

Miss Coates and Mrs Frank left for South Africa on Friday and they will be the eyes and ears of our children in order for them to understand education in our link primary school. Tshepisa Primary School is located in the second biggest township of Tembisa in South Africa and our school has had strong links with them since 2011 when Mrs Reilly first visited. Since then, staff from our school have been every other year and in 2015, we started blogging when we went and we even managed to set up Skype so that our children could directly speak to children in South Africa, it is all very exciting. Now Miss Coates and Mrs Frank will keep us updated about their time there so enjoy reading all about it! Scroll down to find out more!

Pictures from the Township

Day 1 in school 16th April 2018

Day 2 in school Tuesday 17th April 2018

Day 2 in school but our first day of teaching – it was a great yet tiring experience as there were approximately 40 children in the class. We were driven into school by one of our teachers, who drove in a different way. We took a few short cuts through sandy, dusty lanes and became quite used to hearing the cars beeping at each other. They beep lots here!

Not long after arriving, we set up our lesson in the new canteen area. It was great to be able to deliver our lessons in here as there would not have been enough room to do them in the classrooms. We taught the lesson which many of you did during the World of Work week, all about gender stereotypes and job roles. It was great to be able to show them the pictures of 3 Acorns doing the same lesson and they loved listening to the English names when I told them who the different children were. During the lesson, we used lots of different activities which we use back at Oakwood, such as Quiz Quiz Trade, Stand up, Hand up, Pair up and Round Table Talk. The teachers do not use this style of teaching so the teachers and children really enjoyed doing something different. We have taken pictures of the children showing what they would like to be when they are older – it was inspiring to see that so many had high aspirations for themselves, wanting to be lawyers, doctors and hospital managers to name a few. After lunch, we delivered the same lesson to another class of 40 children, which was just as inspiring.

At the end of the school day, some of the children were excited as they were going to a neighbouring school to play cricket. They children are so lovely, wanting to hug us and high 5 all of the time. They also love to stroke our hair – one little girl told us she thought our hair felt like a dolls!

After a long yet inspiring day, Mr Kekona took us home…the long way! He took us through the different areas of Tembisa so we could get a true picture of what the area is like. We saw the tapestry of life in Tembisa for the children who attend our link school. Even though we saw some areas being the poorest of the poor, they were the rich in community and happiness. Have a look at our pictures again to see it through our eyes!

We will be teaching again tomorrow morning, followed by a visit to Soweto to see Nelson Mandela’s house and museum, which we are very much looking forward to.

Love Mrs Frank and Miss Coates

Day 3 in school Wednesday 18th April 2018

Day 3. When we arrived at school today the children were already lined up for assembly. Assembly is so different in South Africa as it takes place outside and all the learners (children) stand. We were pleased to hear the children sing, we watched them dance, heard them say the Lord’s Prayer and then finish with the South African National Anthem.

Today there was a promotion of Kellogg’s noodles and all the children including us were given the opportunity to taste them, the children were very excited and lined up patiently.

We once again had the privilege to teach the grade 4 children. They were very excited and loved the activities. Just like the children from yesterday they had high aspirations with some learners saying they would like to be doctors, dentists, traffic cops and pilots when they grow up.

We went into a grade 3 class where the children were taking part in a life skills lesson. The children were all expected to stand up and talk to the rest of the class. They are very confident in doing this and enjoyed talking about their family. When the teacher was showing us her planning, the children took over the teaching, taking in turns to point and chant words from a large sheet of paper on the wall. They have a set of class rules on the wall, which the children recite every morning before the lessons begin. We then went into Grade R where all of the learners were doing different tasks such as reading, mark making, play-doh and counting. One little girl wanted to copy write our names and was very proud when she gave them to us.

We had a similar experience as yesterday where the children wanted to touch our skin and hair. Even though we have great photos, we do find it hard to take them as they all crowd around, shouting ‘shoot me! shoot me!’

We have managed to get copies of the tests they carry out for Grade 5 (our Year 6) children as we thought it would be interesting to compare standards. It was interesting to learn all about their assessment tracking and how they support learners who are finding work challenging.

In the afternoon, our hosts wanted to take us to Soweto so we could experience some of the history of South Africa, to better understand their heritage. Firstly, we visited the Hector Pieterson Museum, which tells of the terrible events of the Soweto uprising. The black youth were being forced by the government to learn Afrikaans and English, regardless of their spoken language. Students gathered to peacefully demonstrate but the peaceful demonstrations soon became hostile when the police arrived. This resulted in Hector Pieterson and many other children being killed. A news photographer took a photo of Hector being carried by another Soweto resident while his sister ran next to him. This was published around the world and from then, there was world-wide condemnation of the apartheid government. Today, the 16 June is Designated Youth Day, when South Africans honour young people and listen to their voice.

Following the museum, we then visited Nelson Mandela’s house. We were able to sit on his front steps and have a look inside his house. Have a look at the photographs to see the inside of the house. The Mandela house strives to be a world-class visitor attraction and a leading centre for the preservation, presentation and research of the history, heritage and legacy of the Mandela family. We were surprised to be taken to the late Winnie Mandela’s house, where we were able to see a shrine of flowers that had been left since her death. This was very moving for our South African hosts and they went on to tell us lots about what it was like living through apartheid. This was a very moving experience. Guess where we went for tea? Nandos…and there was no queuing!

Tomorrow is our last full day in school so we are hoping to face time some of the children to connect our classrooms together.


Day 4 in school 19th April 2018

The day began with listening to the children in Grade R (4 and 5 year olds) singing for us and then saying a prayer. All of the children knew the words off by heart and were so confident! Mrs Frank visited Grade 7 to show the children the ‘Heard it on the playground’ video, as they are going to create their own version for us at Oakwood. I was in a Grade 5 class, where the children were asked to do their corrections in their English books, whilst the teacher was in a meeting. They asked me which other languages we teach at Oakwood, so I explained we teach Spanish in Key Stage 2 and taught them a few phrases.

Without a doubt, the highlight of our day was when we were able to face time children from Oakwood and show them around Tshepisa School! We walked all around school, showing a number of different classes and explaining differences between the two schools. We showed our children the water taps where the children wash their own bowls and use it as drinking water, as well as staff sweeping the outside areas.  Mrs Reilly was very keen to see the new Nutrition Centre, as that is a new build to the school and was only started last year.

Four Grade 5 children were chosen to speak via face time to our Oakwood children. It was so lovely to see children from both schools speaking with each other, asking questions and wanting to know as much as possible. Questions included: ‘What do you do after school?’, ‘What lessons so you have?’, ‘What food do you eat, ‘How many year groups do you have in your school?’ There were many similarities in their answers yet a stark difference was what the children did after school. Children from Tshepisa said first they complete all of their homework followed by playing outside, either skipping or football, whereas the children at Oakwood said they played on their tablets or X box. It was an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.  All of the children at Oakwood were then treated to the four children singing the national anthem of South Africa.

After lunch, the children wanted to sing the banana song which we had taught them – it is lovely to hear them at the end of the school day singing the song with each other! The security guard took us for a walk around the perimeter of the school, where we saw live chickens in cages which people buy to eat for their tea, and the recreation area, where people can go to join exercise lessons in the morning, The park has all-round security so it does not suffer from vandalism, as our security guard said that it is so important to keep the public well-looked after and safe – he was very passionate about this.

At the end of the school day, we followed some children who have been chosen to be traffic officers to the crossroads, where they help the traffic officer to control the traffic at this junction! It was quite something to watch primary aged children managing traffic on the corners of very busy roads! On the corner of the street, we watched two very small little boys play an imaginative game of ‘house’ with a broken glass mirror, which they used as a knife, an upturned cup which they used as a stove and leaves for the food. It was so lovely to see them playing so nicely together and using their imagination even though they had hardly any resources.

Our lovely hosts then took us out for tea, where we were able to talk lots more about what life is like in both of our countries; we discussed what is the ‘same but different’. Our last day in school tomorrow is going to be very emotional as we have to say ‘goodbye’ to our wonderful children, staff and this beautiful country.

Day 5 in school 20th April 2018

Our final day in school; the week has gone by very quickly. The Grade 5 children enjoyed reading the letters that some of our children sent over and we have arranged for the South African children to reply over the next couple of weeks!
The morning was mostly spent videoing the performances of the poem ‘Heard it on the playground’ by the Grade 6 children. The children really took us by surprise as they had been given the poem 2 days previous and asked to organise themselves and learn the words at home. It was clear that they are very independent learners who can organise themselves as a group and were extremely confident when performing. We are excited to put the clips together to produce a performance in South African and then one at Oakwood which we are then hoping to merge together. Watch this space!
The day ended with a debrief meeting alongside our other Warrington and South African colleagues. Here, we discussed the progress and future of the project and strengthening our partnership. We were once again entertained why the children who recited part of Nelson Mandela’s speech and performed a traditional Zulu dance.
We then said our goodbyes ahead of a very long journey back to England. We are looking forward to sharing our experience with the children in a South African themed assembly and engaging them with the joint project.

See you all back in school Monday.

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