Friday, 23 September 2016

Dyffryn Taf School, Wales, Great Britain: Theme Projects

Chinese New Year Celebrations at Dyffryn Taf January 2017

For the past few years Dyffryn Taf has celebrated the Chinese New Year.  The school has a Confucius Teacher who delivers Mandarin lessons to upper school pupils and feeder primary schools.  For Chinese New Year, students in year 7 have a special assembly and attend various workshops.  This year they made dumplings, had a class in Tai Chi using fans and trialled calligraphy and panda artwork.  The canteen also had a special Chinese lunch menu for the day.

Challenging Misconceptions and Promoting Empathy

Our school, Ysgol Gynradd Griffith Jones, is a dual stream primary school with 270 pupils, located in a rural area of Carmarthenshire. It is a feeder school for Ysgol Gyfun Dyffryn Taf and we joined the GLP-W network led by Dyffryn Taf in 2015.
What did we want to achieve? 
Inspired by participating in the Dyffryn Taf GLP-W network meetings, we realised we needed to reinvigorate our approach to ESDGC and give it a higher profile. We were particularly concerned that our pupils had misconceptions about some global issues such as the refugee crisis. We wanted to equip them with the knowledge and skills to challenge these and come to their own opinions, as well as to improve their literacy skills.
How did we set about it?
Taking part in the meetings at Dyffryn Taf has been an invaluable experience as it has given us access to the expertise of their co-ordinator as well as the time and space to share our own ideas. It has helped us to gain a wider understanding of global learning and its relevance as a context for improving literacy and numeracy skills. This has led us to see ESDGC not just as an element of wellbeing but as a vehicle for raising standards.

As a network of schools in a very rural part of Wales, we all agreed the focus for this year should be to broaden horizons and question preconceived ideas through work on the refugee crisis. We shared useful resources we had found via the Edmodo site set up for the purpose by Dyffryn Taf.

How well did we achieve our aims?
We planned a unit of work for Years 4, 5 and 6. This included:
  • Understanding where refugees are coming from and going to and why 
  • Reading about the plight of refugee children and taking part in the “Send my friend to school” campaign
  • Writing poetry from the perspective of refugees 
  • Looking at bias in the press which led  to pupils writing their own articles from both biased and more objective stances
  • Keeping up to date with current affairs by also focussing on fairness and unfairness in the 2016 Rio Olympics
  • Challenging MAT pupils to improve numeracy skills through using the GLP-W Olympic Data set
  • Introducing alternative and participatory teaching methodologies such as “hot seating” and “diamond nine” and “conscience alley
What was the impact of this work?
“The literacy work in particular has really stretched pupils. Through exploring more challenging issues, they have extended their use of specialist vocabulary and as a result, their oracy has improved. But above all, it’s their awareness that has massively improved and their ability to empathise with others.”
 Clementine M Barrington, ESDGC co-ordinator, Ysgol Griffith Jones
“This work gave me the opportunity to think for myself instead of just accepting what’s presented in the media”
 Year 5 pupil, Ysgol Griffith Jones

How does this link to the Global Learning Programme - Wales?
  • Improving knowledge and understanding of issues related to global poverty
  • Developing critical thinking skills around global issues
  • Encouraging respect for diversity and promoting empathy
  • Gaining confidence in using more creative teaching methodologies
This work also links closely with ‘Successful Futures’. Global learning is at the heart of the new curriculum as one of its four statutory purposes is to develop children and young people as ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world.’

What we plan to do next?
Our participation in the Dyffryn Taf GLP-W network has been so beneficial that we have decided to set up our own global learning community in school and have created an action plan for this. This will bring together staff responsible for PSE, RE, Eco Schools, Fairtrade, Literacy and Numeracy to meet on a regular basis. Our task will be to ensure that global learning is embedded in all planning and explicitly linked to the literacy, numeracy and digital frameworks. We will continue to regularly update the Head and school governors on progress.

As a network, we are keen now to learn more about the Rights Respecting School Award and work together to achieve the first level. This will be a natural progression from the work we have already undertaken and help us to develop our pupils as rights-respecting global citizens and advocates for fairness and children’s rights locally and globally.

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