A Stone Bridge for us to Cross

Published on Thursday 27 February 2020 by Crook Primary.

Connecting Classrooms Crook Primary Cluster Case Study

“Mama where have all the people gone?” In 2005 as we drove away from Newcastle airport, our Tanzanian visitors looked worried as if some tragedy had befallen the UK. They then asked why there was no one walking along the road” What has happened?” To them coming from a riot of colour of Tanzania where there is always someone walking purposefully, our drab central reservation and grassy embankments looked devoid of life and actually mirrored the stereotype that many people have of the UK that we are reserved and private. Fast forward 14 years and in a cafe in Moshi our new cluster school link teachers from Tanzania were teaching the UK visitors short cuts and the best ways to take a selfie with Neema and Perpetua our selfie queens.

A Stone Bridge for us to Cross

The Chagga culture has a story about Stone Bridges where people worked hard to change from a straw bridge across a river to build a stone bridge that has great foundations and is lasting. Since 2005, Mdawi Primary and Crook Primary has created a “ Stone Bridge” between our two schools that is based on mutual respect, equity, learning and deep friendships. It has been a life changing experience. We decided that we wanted to refresh our link by extending it to other schools and forming a new cluster. Schools were carefully chosen so that good personal relationships could be formed between leaders and that there would be shared values and the development of a common understanding. A “ Whatsapp group was formed to start the human communication and through this and intermittent email, a project was written.

We decided that our Tanzanian visitors would come to the UK first in September and that the UK would return to Tanzania a few weeks later in October so that we would avoid the rains and that the Tanzanians would avoid the cold and dark of winter. There were the usual last minute visa problems with the last flights being booked 24 hour before departure and passports travelling up to Moshi from Dar on the bus.

As Sustainable Goals were a fairly new concept to many of the partnership schools, we undertook two days of training during the UK visit. We have used this training to implement some of the partnership activities so far. “Our partnership has made the SDGS real. Having an actual link school that our children can see and communicate with has made global learning real. It has inspired children to think differently about their own lives.” Steve

Our activities to date have centred around “ Quality Education for all”. Children have realised how resourceful and resilient their Tanzanian partners are. They were really interested to see for example how maths resources are made rather than bought from catalogues.

A Stone Bridge for us to Cross

The project has so far challenged stereotypes. For some children, there was a strong perception that all Africans lived in poverty and children have been “ shocked to see the shiny skyscrapers and good roads of downtown Moshi.” Jennie

“It has also filled children with a sense of “ awe and wonder” Alison

It is the lasting impact that a Connecting Classrooms project has on teachers that should not be underestimated as this will then be translated into schools.

“Connecting Classrooms has broadened my horizons. I personally had never travelled before. It made me come out of my comfort zone and has made me a better global citizen.” Alison

A Stone Bridge for us to Cross

Antonella Lupton

Crook Primary School

November 2019