Travel broadens the curriculum

21st January 2005 at 00:00
A trip to Africa by a languages teacher raised money for charity and boosted professional development, reports Martin Whittaker

Seeing child poverty in Madagascar at first hand had a profound effect on Maurice Larose. After a three-week visit, he launched an appeal at Launceston College, where he was then head of languages; staff, pupils and parents raised pound;3,500 to help charities feed and educate street children on the island. Following his retirement, he is working to forge links between other schools in Cornwall and schools in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo.

Maurice was shocked at the numbers of homeless children and by how poor the schools are. One school had only one English book to share between teachers and pupils in Year 8. "A number of children fall victims of gangs, drugs and prostitution at an early age," he writes in the school newspaper.

"Life on the streets at night is disturbingly unsafe. Even in the heat of the day I saw children fast asleep on the pavement in the busiest streets."

The college now aims to use the link with French-speaking Madagascar to teach modern languages and citizenship, and there may be future visits there by A-level geography students.

Mauritius-born Maurice has produced a work folder on Madagascar which Launceston already uses in French lessons. He is also turning material from his visit, including taped interviews and photographs, into a resource pack on child poverty for key stage 4 and sixth-form students.

He is part of a network of teachers involved in a professional development project to integrate development issues and global citizenship into mainstream education. Called Project 2015, it is run by Cornwall Association for Development Education in partnership with South West Initiative for Training, which provides higher education accredited awards for teachers.

The project is funded with nearly pound;250,000 from the Department for International Development. It gives teachers time out of the classroom to prepare development education schemes of work for all main subject areas of the curriculum. Project co-ordinator Yvonne Appleby says: "The aim of the project is to show that global citizenship is relevant, no matter what subject area, to make development issues and global citizenship issues mainstream."

Since its start in 2002, the project has involved more than 70 teachers from schools across Cornwall. Co-ordinators say more than 1,000 pupils have benefited. Schemes of work are put into teaching packs and there are in-service training sessions. Teachers in the first cohort are now completing best-practice research scholarships, five are doing action research on development education, and four are doing research as part of a masters or post-graduate diploma. And some of the project's funding is being used to make training resources for primary and secondary schools, including videos of demonstration lessons.

Assessment of the project's impact on teachers has been positive. All those taking part said they had found development education was relevant to the national curriculum and they felt more confident teaching it.

At a recent seminar in Liskeard, teachers gave their own case studies.

Sharon Neale, a Year 5 teacher at St Stephen's Primary School in Launceston, said she had managed to raise pupils' awareness of fair trade products through numeracy. Pupils were able to cover fractions, percentage points and problem solving while also learning about global citizenship. It also gave staff and children an excuse to sample some chocolate and now the school has implemented an annual fair trade fortnight.

Jo Cottam, head of art at the Roseland Community School in Tregony, near St Austell, wanted to raise awareness among Year 9 pupils about not wasting materials. She got them to make terracotta pots with home-made tools, shaping the pots with scrapers made from used mobile phone cards. They then made an outdoor kiln in the playground from old paving slabs and stones.

She now aims to extend the project, getting students to dig their own clay.

Rita Martin, an advanced skills English teacher at Roseland, also sang Project 2015's praises: "For us it's been wonderful. We did it with our whole Year 9 and got some fabulous writing from it. We had A-grade KS4 essays being produced at the end of KS3.

"This is the first time I have ever been given time to produce resources.

It's allowed me to produce a scheme of work that is quite exciting. It has all sorts of things I don't normally have time to produce for them."

* For more information on Project 2015 contact Yvonne Appleby at Cornwall Association for Development Education email:

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