Ella McDonagh writes the following report:
At the beginning of term Mr Port let us know that Ms Campbell’s application to take part in a Comenius Schools Partnership Programme was successful and we have been awarded a grant of 22,000 Euros from the British Council to fund this. The Comenius Schools Partnership Programme gives young people the opportunity to make cultural links with schools in different European countries. Named after Jan Amos Comenius, often considered the father of modern education, Comenius has two main objectives:
- to develop knowledge and understanding among young people and education staff of the diversity of European cultures and languages, and the value of this diversity
- to help young people to acquire basic life skills and competences for their personal development, for future employment and for active European citizenship
Our school has been given the opportunity to work with four other European schools:
Instituto Istruzione Superiore C. Golgi in Italy, 7th General Lyceum of Illion in Greece, HS/RS Lehre in Germany and Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia. Our project will run over two years, during which we will visit each school in turn to plan, discuss and evaluate our input into the project. Each school will study the cultural and political heritage of their area and consider how this has shaped their environment. In planning and working together, pupils and staff will have the opportunity to increase their awareness and appreciation of our their own and other cultures within the European Community. Direct contact with staff and students from other countries will promote citizenship and develop the feeling of all belonging to the same community, and, it is hoped, build lifelong relationships and friendships amongst the partnership countries. Pupils will improve their research skills and out-of-school learning, widen their outlook and become active and responsible learners and active Europeans. In Gairloch we will concentrate on our historical, linguistic, artistic and musical culture and how it has made our country what it is today.
We hope that the exchanges between schools will help all students in our school to develop a sense of intercultural understanding, improve our communication in languages and encourage personal achievement.
Our first visit is to Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia. This visit will be in November. Four pupils from S5 and S6, Kirsty Alexander, Ella McDonagh, Alasdair Paul and Sophie Donald along with Ms Campbell and Ms Hunter, will set off for Riga, followed by working meetings with our partner schools in Preili, where pupils will stay with host families.
I am delighted to have such a wonderful opportunity to visit Latvia. It is a unique opportunity that I doubt I will ever get again. I am really excited about staying with host families and learning about how they live, although I’ll have to learn some Latvian first.