Pupils link with Palestine

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Anne Marie Fitzpatrick, International Schools co-ordinator, from St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s Primary School has forged a new partnership with Tulkarm Girls 1 in Palestine as part of Connecting Classrooms, a unique global education programme.

Connecting Classrooms is run in more than 30 countries by the British Council in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID). It equips teachers with the knowledge and techniques to teach young people the skills they need to live and work in an increasingly globalised economy.

The programme enables teachers not only to teach these ‘21st century core skills’ to children in their classroom, but also to visit partner schools in other countries to exchange insights and ideas on how to improve teaching and learning in their schools.

St. Patrick’s and St.Brigid’s is taking part in the programme because of its commitment to preparing students to become well-rounded, truly global citizens.

On hearing the news that St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s PS has successfully applied to take part, Sir Ciarán Devane, CEO of the British Council, said: “I am delighted that St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s PS in Ballycastle is taking on this excellent opportunity to develop their professional practice by collaborating with teachers from Palestine and the UK. Their commitment to equip young people with skills and understanding for life and work in an increasingly global economy is to be commended.”

Mr. Eamonn Magee, principal, from St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s explained: “As an Inclusion Quality mark (Centre of Excellence) school we are aware of the importance of making our pupils aware of their responsibilities on a global scale. Linking with a country from the Middle East opens their minds to new cultures and new challenges. Through working together on this project we hope that the children will come to understand our similarities and celebrate our differences.”

Connecting Classrooms has enabled Anne Marie Fitzpatrick, teacher, and Leona Mc Kiernan, SENCO from St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s PS to take part in a visit to share their experiences and success in teaching and implementing the core skills in their own curriculum.

During their attendance at the Connecting Classrooms conference in Amman, Jordan the teachers had the chance to plan along with their Palestinian colleague, visit a Palestinian refugee school and attend an Inclusion conference featuring speakers from the Jordanian education ministry, DFID and UNRWA. The children of St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s, led by their Rights Champions, had filled a box with items of cultural significance to Ballycastle and their school. Mrs. Fitzpatrick used these items to teach a lesson in Amman even treating the children to a sample of dulse and yellow man! The box is now being shared in Palestine to enthuse the children their about life on the North Coast.

Mrs. Sabreen Ahmed from Tulkarm Girls 1, Palestine was delighted to be able to leave the West Bank to meet her new link school colleagues: “The pupils in Tulkarm are very excited about taking part in this project. We hope that this is the start of many years working together.”

St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s have previously worked with schools from Sri Lanka and Uganda through the Connecting Classrooms project and are sure that their new link with Palestine shall be equally successful.