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Report on Visit to Skywood School, St. Albans

Our global partnership, which has been sponsored by the British Council and Tata Consultancy Services, has enabled teachers from both schools to make reciprocal visits.  Mr. Bridle and Mrs. Tracey visited Bharathi Vidyalaya in July 2012.

Our reciprocal visit to Skyswood School was scheduled between 19th November and 23rd November 2012.  Lakshmi and I left for London on 18th November 2012 by British Airways.  We reached London at around 9.00 A.M. on the 18th.  Bob and Tracey were present at the airport to receive us.  We went straight to our guest house at Park, St. Albans.

On 19th, Monday, we were given a very warm welcome by Mr. Bridle and his team.  We were introduced to Mrs. Christine Winmill of TCS. We were taken around the school before the assembly.  It was nice to see photographs of Bharathi Vidyalaya put on the notice boards celebrating the partnership.  In the Assembly, we were introduced to the students and teachers of Skyswood.  The school choir entertained us with their skillful performance of the song ‘Autumn Days...’ After the welcome assembly, we visited the Woodlands Nursery Section of Skyswood.  The classroom set up and activities conducted for the nursery children were very impressive. The afternoon session by Mr. Bridle for year 5 students on the topic Egyptian Canopic Jars was very interesting.  Mr. Bridle’s step by step explanation during the carpet time was very effective.  The children followed the instructions and made wonderful models of Baboon and Jackal heads. It was nice to see children fully engrossed in their work and actively participating in learning.  Later, we had a historic tour of St. Albans Cathedral. 

On 20th morning, we visited the Sandringham Secondary School.  The visit gave us an idea about the secondary school education in UK. The infrastructure and facilities provided for the students were very good.  The silent zone and the collaborative learning areas caught our attention.  We observed a class on theatre skills and were amazed at the importance given to a variety of co-curricular activities. It was interesting to note how the potential of every child is developed through the varied opportunities available.

Later, at Skyswood Mr. Bolton conducted the music class for Year 5 students.  The activity with the percussion instruments (djembe drums) was quite impressive. The children followed and played the beats demonstrated by Mr. Bolton and it was fun watching them singing their name in tune with the beat. Mrs. Colen’s French Class was interesting.

The afternoon session was utilized to teach ‘Magic Square Dance’ to Year 5. We had planned this activity especially for the Year 5 children of Skyswood.  The activity took quite some time.  A magic number would be called out and the students have to use a formula to calculate the number they would hold and take their positions to form a 4 x 4 magic square.  Each row, column and diagonals would add up to the magic number!  It was fun teaching the children some simple steps of Indian Classical Dance!  The children enjoyed doing Bharathnatyam steps for the music.  We had also planned the Math Relay and Live Lattice for the children of Year 3.  The procedures for conducting these activities were explained to the teachers. 

On Wednesday, the 21st, we had an exciting trip to London along with Year 5 students.  We saw the length and breadth of London travelling in tube trains and local trains. We visited the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and had an opportunity to see The Lion King at the Theatre.  It was a thrilling experience.

On Thursday, we visited The Woodlands Nursery again to see the children at work.  The activities planned by the teachers to engage children meaningfully were very impressive.  It was amazing to see the children sharing the resources, managing time and taking decision on their own. The layout of the classroom, allocating space for various activities like role play, Lego, twister, colouring, reading, clay modelling, play time, snack time etc., was very good.  This is one thing which we would love to implement in our school!  The reception class particularly caught our attention.  We are keen on introducing many of those ideas in our kindergarten section.

Then, Mr. Jones and Mr. Newton shared their experience in teaching Robotics to year 5 students.  The Robots made by the students (especially the catapult) were quite impressive.  We are keen on introducing Robotics in our school.  The session gave us an insight into the subject.  We have requested Mr. Bridle to provide us with information regarding the hardware and software requirements for the course.  The last session for the day was the music class.  The background music for Wallace and Gromit by the students was very creative.  It was interesting to see children using the different instruments creatively and compose a lively music for the cartoon!

On Friday, we had the valediction assembly.  Mr. Bob presented a review of the week’s activities.  We witnessed a brilliant Rock ‘n’ Roll performance by the girls.  That afternoon we were taken to Luton Hoo for an English Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Christine Winmill of TCS, The Governess of Skyswood and Mrs. Lisa Foster.  We discussed the future plans and ways of taking the partnership forward.  We returned to Chennai on 25th, Sunday.

We are very thankful to Management, Parents and students of Skyswood School for their generous contributions of Lego, small toys, Parachute and brand new twister for our kindergarten section.  We had a very wonderful and useful time at Skyswood.  Our heartfelt thanks to Bob and Tracey for making us feel at home.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and were impressed by the Child Centric Learning in the school.  We are eager to introduce and implement some the methods in BV!

Our thanks are due to Nora, who made our stay very pleasant at the guest house.

We owe our sincere thanks to British Council and Tata Consultancy Services for enabling this partnership and sponsoring our trip.  We are fully committed to developing our partnership further and our next step is to achieve the International School Awards!

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