Sri Lankan teachers in partnership visit
receiving the visitors at London Rd HQ, back l to r, Alan Ward, Acting Head of Schools, Graham Short, Executive Director of Educational and Social Services Peter Flood, former HT Loudoun Academy; front right, teacher Claire Matthews, Park School.
Four Sri Lankan teachers made a trip to East Ayrshire recently, following on a successful exchange visit by East Ayrshire staff to Sri Lanka earlier this year.
The visitors thoroughly enjoyed their time in East Ayrshire, forming particularly strong links with Loudoun Academy.
For the last year, ten local schools have been partnered with ten schools in Sri Lanka, over five thousand miles away in the Indian Ocean.
The aim of the Global School partnerships is to promote understanding of other cultures through the curriculum. In order to establish meaningful relationships between the partnered schools, the British Council has provided funding for teacher exchange visits.
Three of the ten East Ayrshire partnerships successfully secured funding for one teacher from each school to make reciprocal visits this year.
Peter Flood, then Headteacher of Loudoun Academy and Claire Matthews, a teacher at Park School, travelled to Sri Lanka in February for one week. Teacher Clare Mullin of Dalmellington Primary plans to go in October.
Peter and Claire were royally received on the island by massive welcoming committees, with schools flying Scottish flags and children lining the roads singing Scottish songs.
East Ayrshire Council chose Sri Lanka - which was devastated by the 2004 Asian tsunami - from a range of possible countries, as it was considered to have the best opportunities for international education.
Schools there operate with classes of about 50 pupils to one teacher, starting early morning and closing at 1.30 pm, when the children eat lunch - usually bowls of rice - with their fingers.
Graham Short, Executive Director of Educational and Social Services, said: "The teachers from Sri Lanka were very impressed by our resources - particularly in IT - and, I think, the small class sizes. However, they thought we didn't play enough cricket!"
Councillor Stephanie Primrose, Spokesperson for Lifelong Learning, said: "Direct school to school partnerships, with visits by teachers, joint activities and the involvement of local communities, can breathe life into classroom learning.
"Such personal contact between young people separated by thousands of miles can have a very positive impact on their appreciation of different cultures."