The association between Wellington School and St Edmund͛s School is supported by the global education programme Connecting Classrooms/Schools Online. The programme is run by the British Council in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) and it provides funding for teachers to pay reciprocal visits to each other͛s schools to look at education in a different country.
The partnership encourages pupils and staff to work on common themes together and to learn about life in another country. Pupils have explored education, food and festivals, while specific departments have collaborated effectively on a variety of projects. For example, Wellingtons Business Studies Department recently worked with staff at St Edmund͛s on a Fair Trade initiative and the Modern Studies Department exchanged information on access to health care.
In the Junior School, pupils have participated in The Flat Stanley Project where they connect with St Edmund pupils via their mutual friends Flat Stanley or Flat Stella. Flat Stanley was initially created in 1964 but almost 30 years later, he was given a new lease of life with this award winning pen-pal project. Now, children from all over the world create and send “flat” friends to each other. Wellington and St Edmund͛s pupils talk about, track, and write about their flat character͛s journey and adventures.
In 2014, the first pupil home-stay visit to Jaipur took place. Wellington pupils enjoyed celebrating Diwali with their new friends in Jaipur. Every second year the S5 and S6 classes have the opportunity to travel to India during the Christmas holidays. During their stay, they spend a day at St Edmunds School, meet pupils and staff and enjoy cultural activities which are put on for them. St Edmunds organises a visit to local factories for our pupils who have the chance to see working conditions in the paper and textile industries.
This account of the most recent trip offers a first-hand insight into this enriching and unique experience:
Ten pupils from Wellington School enjoyed Hogmanay, Bollywood style, in the Clarks Shiraz Hotel in Agra, as part of a cultural tour of the famous Indian ͚Golden Triangle͛. The week-long tour took in all of the sights for which India is so well known, including the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort at Agra, the Palace of the Winds and the Amber Fort at Jaipur and the rich tapestry of extraordinary sights and sounds that greet visitors to Old and New Delhi.
Highlights of the tour included a visit to the Taj Mahal at dawn, when the mesmerising, love-inspired 17th century mausoleum of inlaid marble emerges like a mirage from the morning mists. The ascent to the Amber Fort, on the back of an elephant, was also one of the great experiences of the week. As well as visiting the traditional tourist attractions, pupils had the opportunity to see a demonstration of kite making in Jaipur, as families prepared for the annual Kite Festival on 14 January. Every evening in early January, the skies in Rajasthan are filled with beautiful bamboo and tissue paper creations, flown at dizzying heights above the rooftops.
India was not just selected as a destination from a holiday brochure. Wellington School has a long-standing partnership with St Edmunds school in Jaipur and pupils and staff from both schools benefit greatly from the opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity of a country different to their own, to exchange ideas and to share good practice. This tour included a formal visit to St Edmunds, where the staff and pupils of Wellington School were overwhelmed by the traditional Indian hospitality that they received. As part of the visit, the group had the chance to shop at a pupil-run bazaar, where the girls enjoyed trying on and buying saris and everybody purchased exquisite Indian textiles and handmade gifts.