At Ashley, we aim to foster within our school a fascination with the world around us and a spirit of enquiry. Through our learning, we have the opportunity to explore other localities and cultures around the world and within the UK.
As children progress through the school from Reception all the way up to Year 6, we support them as they develop an understanding of their place in the world around them. For our youngest children, this might mean learning that they belong to their new class as they begin their journey through school life and understanding what it means to belong and be part of a team. A little later, they begin to explore the community in which they live and understand some of the factors that have shaped it and their role in its future development. Later still, they may look beyond their immediate surroundings to understand the role that other cultures within the UK play in making our society what it is today and what it will be in the future.
As the children become more aware of the world beyond our shores, we ensure they have the opportunities through their learning to find out about different places and people internationally. This is often supported by international links and, in Year 6, an international school journey.
Alongside all of this, we encourage the children to reflect on the impact they have on other places and people and identify the positive changes they can make to the world around them. This very much links with our Eco School focus on sustainability and the values that underpin the children’s education at Ashley.
So what have we been doing?
A link with the roof of the world
Over the Easter holidays, Mr Dunne travelled to the Himalayas to work with the students and staff of the Mahabodhi School just outside Leh, the capital of the Leh district in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. In August 2013, and with the support of a team from the Global Himalayan Expedition, the school built an education base in an annex made entirely from recycled materials and run on solar energy. The classroom is situated behind the main school and is a place where the students go to take their learning beyond textbooks and start to explore the issues that really matter to them: issues of water, energy, biodiversity, food, waste and their local Ladakhi culture. As a centre for education in action, it shares many of the values of our own school here in Walton-on-Thames.
The school has a wifi facility in the education base with a set of tablets so the students can research information on the internet and engage with students in other places and we are excited to announce our own learning partnership with them. The first project that we are working on with them focuses on their mountain world and ties in with Year 6′s exploration of mountain environments. On Friday, 16th May, a team of Grade 7 students are going to give a presentation to our Year 6 classes on what it is like to live in the mountains. We are sure this is the start of a fascinating partnership in learning!
Global learning puts a spring in our step
In the Spring term, Year 3 asked Why should we protect the rainforest? They welcomed some unusual visitors into their classrooms, in the form of a boa constrictor, Chilean rose tarantula and giant millipedes, among others, and used this as inspiration to produce some stunning rainforest animal masks, which they shared in their Great Work. At the end of the term, the children reflected on our role in protecting rainforests habitats around the world.
“We can help save the rainforest by using less paper at school and at home. Reusable things don’t use up the worlds precious resources” (Noa)
Meanwhile, also in the Spring term, the children in Year 5 were exploring their learning enquiry What story does an Indian image tell? They started by looking at images of Indian street scenes (which they used as the basis to write their own short stories) and by learning all about Bollywood film and dance in a workshop led by a visiting Bollywood dancer. Later in the term, the children focused on the historical and cultural links between the UK and India and learned about the Indian community living in the UK, visiting a Sikh gurdwara and the shops in Southall.
Inspired by the range of beautiful Indian fabrics and textiles they looked at during their topic, the children produced their own Indian bags in DT, using pattern cutting, sewing, appliqué and embroidery techniques.
Over in Year 1, the children were learning all about the Caribbean, asking How is the Caribbean different from where we live? For their Great Work, the children made their own Caribbean musical instruments and helped prepared a Caribbean feast.
Links across the oceans
To support their oceans topic How can we ensure our oceans stay amazing? the children in Year 5 have been Skyping children in one of our partner schools, GIS, in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives.
The children presented their learning with great clarity and used the opportunity to find out about the Indian Ocean.
The children of Owl and Kestrel classes have begun their topic by exploring the waters around our shores and some of the sea creatures that live there, as well as some of the threats to the health of our seas. Next, they will be comparing this to the oceans around the Maldives. Having already found out so much about the role of the oceans in the life of the children in the Maldives, the children in Year 5 are full of enthusiasm for this next part of their learning. They asked plenty of questions about the Indian Ocean to their Maldivian peers and shared their learning about rivers, which aren’t a feature of the landscape in the Maldives.
Later in the year, we will be expanding our link with GIS to Year 2, as they learn about Islam and share some of their learning about bees.
In addition to enriching the children’s learning, our link with GIS has been a great opportunity for our teachers and teachers from our partner school to learn from each other. Earlier this term, we hosted three Maldivian teachers at Ashley, who spent a week observing and participating in the life of the school. They were especially interested in finding out how we teach phonics and early reading.
Toy Donation: Limbe, Malawi
Our Year 1 classes grouped together after learning about how hard life could be in Malawi, especially for children. Linking with their learning enquiry ”How have toys changed over time?”, our Dragonfly and Frog classes joined forces to collect toys to donate to children in a different country who were not as fortunate as them to have so many toys.
The toys were given to the children at the 2013 Christmas party at BAHASI community project and teachers Fiona Rochford and Sharran Thurlow explained:
“The children (who are orphans or vulnerable) enjoyed lunch, dancing and singing. Each child was given a plastic bag containing soap, biscuits, drink and one of your soft toys. They were extremely happy to receive your gifts and send their thanks and appreciation.”
International Day of the Girl
The second Friday of October this year was the International Day of the Girl. The children of Year 6 were visited by Carole Bourne from Street Child Africa, who came to discuss with the children the lives of street children in Africa. The children were inspired by what the organisation is doing for the children – so much so that they plan to base a Design for Change project on thinking of ways they can help children in these types of situations.