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Sleepover ticks time-zone boxes

Tim Buckley would like nothing better than to wake up the pupils at his Stockport school - at one o'clock in the morning. The head of Tithe Barn primary plans to host a sleepover for Year 1 pupils at school.

At 1am, he will wake the five-year-olds by playing live video footage over a large screen.

"Our pupils could watch Australian children as they arrive at school in the morning," he said. "After that, you wouldn't have to teach them about time zones from a workbook."

This is one way in which Mr Buckley believes his school can make use of links with schools around the globe.

Classes at Tithe Barn are already named after continents rather than labelled by year group, and each class then corresponds with a school in its namesake continent.

Year 1 pupils learn about the differing seasons and time zones in Australasia. Year 2 pupils exchange photographs with pupils in Bethlehem.

Older pupils correspond with children in Italy, Brazil or Kansas. And Year 3 pupils benefit from a five-year link with a school in South Africa. This connection extends throughout the school, with the Tithe Barn secretary regularly emailing her African counterpart.

When South Africa abolished corporal punishment four years ago, teachers there approached Mr Buckley for advice on how to maintain classroom discipline. And, last year, pupils from South Africa came over to visit Tithe Barn.

Lydia Vose, nine, said: "In South Africa, they do PE in bare feet. We'd get really mucky if we had to do that. It's very different there. But there's also a real difference between what the books think Africa is, and what African people say it is."

Teacher Carol Cross, whose class is called Africa, said: "I thought the link would be a one-way thing, so that the school in South Africa would benefit. But we've benefited just as much.

"Our children have first-hand knowledge of another country. When you learn from a book, it doesn't come alive in the same way. This is the best thing since sliced bread."

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