Mercy Primary School is one of COCO's partner schools under the 'Schools for Life' programme. The school is situated in an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Victoria and has approximately 150 pupils and 11 teachers.
Regent Farm First School is somewhat larger and located in a completely different part of the world to Mercy Primary. Regent Farm is based in Gosforth, Newcastle and has roughly 350 pupils and 50 members of staff. There are two classes in each year group from 3-4 year olds in the Nursery to 8-9 year olds in Year 4.
COCO was delighted to facilitate a partnership between Mercy Primary and Regent Farm, which was developed through one of COCO's volunteers who paid visits to both schools. Initially, information, pictures and letters were exchanged before a partnership agreement was developed and signed by both schools. The agreement provides a firm foundation for the link.
Staff and pupils have now exchanged several sets of correspondence, artwork and photos. The first topic was ‘Proud to be me’ which gave everyone a positive involvement from the start, and this was followed at the turn of year by ‘Celebrations’. Every pupil and teacher at both schools is part of this new friendship. The educational benefits on both sides can already be seen in the growth of knowledge and understanding of another culture, and everyone is really keen to develop this further. The pupils have also come to appreciate that they have some things in common as well as some very different challenges.
The focus of the partnership is primarily on the two-way educational benefits. However, Regent Farm have been generous enough to raise funds, to be used towards the development of Mercy Primary. They have already raised funds for two new donkeys and a cart to bring water to the school. The donkeys have been named Jack and Jenny by students at Mercy Primary! Regent Farm are now planning to raise funds for classroom furniture.
We feel that COCO has been able to facilitate such a blossoming partnership between Mercy Primary and Regent Farm for quite a few reasons!
Someone being able to spend time in both schools – introducing the other school; sharing insights and the mutual benefits of linking, and sometimes acting as a courier!
Working on a common theme or topic, such as ‘Proud to me’, which is positive and affirming for all
Exchanging pupils’ work and letters from pupils and teachers which personalise the connection
Making the link tangible and accessible to everyone – for example through all classes getting directly involved and using display boards
Making the link an integral strand in regular curriculum subjects, rather than an optional extra
Ensuring that governors and parents are on board as well as all staff and managers
Being determined to communicate even where there are significant technological challenges and lots of other priorities!
However, most importantly of all, students at both schools are doing something enjoyable and helpful to their development!
If you're interested in learning more about COCO's school partnerships, or other ways through which we work alongside UK schools, please visit the schools section of our website.