One of the highlights of my life was founding a school-link.
Back in 1999, I secured a post as a teacher of Religious Studies and History at Polesworth High School, UK. Within weeks of starting, I came across a project run by Oxfam (among others) called On The Line, seeking to link schools on the Greenwich Meridian.
I checked out the various countries involved and applied seeking a school in Ghana, West Africa. From this tentative beginning a link between Polesworth High and Pampawie Junior Secondary School was forged. I had no idea that this Link would flourish, far surpassing the usual pen pal letter exchanges that so often are the sum total of school links.
With the support of my Headmaster Andy Clarke, I applied to the British Council for a grant so that teachers from both schools could pay each other a visit. The basis of my grant application was a project to create two gardens, one in each school, to symbolise our Link. In February 2001 I went to Pampawie with a colleague, Colin Kinder, following the mud map supplied on a sheet of blue air mail paper sent by the Principal, Peter Adjandjah.
It was a transformative experience. The hospitality, the aspiration, the enthusiasm was overwhelming. Students who were learning to count using pebbles, and to write using sticks in the sand, suddenly had before them a chance of a better future.
Yet the Link was never about charity. It was about raising awareness and fostering friendships, about sharing and learning from each other. Here is a video of the trip.
I left Polesworth High in 2002, leaving the Link and Pampawie behind to return to Australia. My successor, teacher Sharon Leftwich Lloyd, continues to this day in her role as Link coordinator to ensure the Link flourishes. Student exchanges, collaborative projects across the curriculum have seen Polesworth rise to the prestigious status of International School. Last I heard Sharon was giving an address to the House of Lords. And I’m told that in the school garden in Pampawie, there is a plaque that bears my name. I was Isobel Schofield then.
Leaving a Link – an article first published by UKWOLA One World Linking magazine, Spring 2014, describes the impact leaving the Ghana Link had on my life and is available here –Reflections on the Link
Here are a few links: http://www.modernghana.com/news/83255/1/british-school-assists-jss-in-kadjebi-district.html http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=374620 http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2078844 http://www.thepolesworthschool.com/Internationalism/Ghana/Ghanapdfs/Staff%20Visits/Report%20of%20Visit%20CLK%20and%20SIM.pdf http://www.thepolesworthschool.com/Internationalism/Ghana/Docs/REPORTROWGDH.pdf http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/school_report/7966753.stm