Putney school chosen to launch global education scheme

Published: 21 September 2018

A Putney school that has been connecting its pupils with children from a refugee camp in Jordan was chosen to launch a pioneering new programme by the UK Government and the British Council.

St Joseph’s Primary School has spent the last two years developing critical thinking skills through the Connecting Classrooms scheme and pupils have been linking up for shared lessons with pupils at the Marka Prep Girls’ school in the Marka refugee camp.

St Joseph’s recently-retired assistant head Stephen Ellis has been working with Marka to develop a joint project around the UN goal to have zero hunger by 2030. Mr Ellis said: “Students need to develop core skills that will help them to thrive in a twenty first century world, be that in Wandsworth or Amman. Critical thinking and non-routine problem solving is an essential life long skill to possess.”

St Joseph’s was chosen to host the launch of the next stage of the scheme, Connecting Classrooms Through Global Learning. The British Council and the Department for International Development are putting up £38m to enable three million pupils from across the UK to link up with schools in Africa, Asia and the Middle East using mobile technology such as What’s App and Facetime.

The aim is to forge links between schools and introduce students and teachers to the UN’s Global Goals for sustainability.

Love Actually film director Richard Curtis, a UN advocate for sustainable development, has leant his support to the scheme and was at the launch, along with International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds and Wandsworth’s cabinet member for children’s services Sarah McDermott. They watched as Mr Ellis welcomed Marka students to join the school assembly via a LIVE video link. The pupils from St Joseph’s then sang a song half in Arabic and half in English.

Following the assembly, guests were invited to take part in a lesson with Year 6 pupils, to share ideas and design the world they would like to live in by the year 2030 - the deadline set for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved. The lesson ended with guests and students making personal pledges of action.

Damien Hinds said: “At St Joseph’s I saw children of different faiths and backgrounds working together and learning from each other. That kind of collaboration is a lesson for us all.”

Cllr McDermott said: “I know that Stephen Ellis has been doing some fantastic work through the Connecting Classrooms scheme, so St Joseph’s was the perfect place to launch this global initiative.

“It’s encouraging that Wandsworth teachers like him are helping Wandsworth’s schoolchildren to flourish in the 21st century and develop skills to work with other young people around the world to tackle the issues we all face.”