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Connecting Classrooms special guest from Uganda

Mike with librarian Margaret Forbes-Hamilton

We welcomed a very special guest into our College recently.

Since 2011 we’ve been in partnership with Wampeewo school in Uganda through the British Council Connecting Classroom project. The school’s headteacher Mike Sssekaggo visited the UK and our College for the very first time.

“We were delighted to welcome Mr Sssekaggo,” said Principal Alex Newton. “Over the last few years our students and teachers have developed a great relationship with the school and it was great to be able to show Mr Sssekaggo around and develop the partnership further.”

The Connecting Classrooms project is designed to help young people develop the knowledge, skills and values to live and work in a global economy and contribute responsibly both locally and nationally. The project also aims to improve teaching in the UK and other countries.

The partnership has already helped improve the Ugandan students’ academic work with 70 out of 100 students involved in the project passing an English Language exam.

“The students draw pictures and send them to their friends at The Spires College,” said Mr Sssekaggo. “By developing their communication skills their academic work has improved tremendously.”

Teachers at Wampeewo school have also benefitted from the partnership. They can access free materials online to improve their teaching courtesy of the British Council. They are also comparing teaching techniques used at The Spires College and collaborating with different departments.

Students in Torquay and Uganda link up through being pen pals, through video and the films that the dance and drama students make. They are also involved in a social enterprise project. The students in Torquay sell products that are made in Uganda, like handbags, hats, bangles and pencil cases and the money is sent back to the school.

“Proceeds from the social enterprise go to the poor,” said Mike Sssekaggo. “It was students from The Spires College who came up with the idea as they wanted to help. The money they send us is banked and used to buy more materials, make more products and sponsor needy students to pay their tuition fees.”

Life for pupils at Wampeewo school is very different to those at The Spires College. 800 of the 1200 students walk the 10 kilometres to school and back every day.

“They arrive tired and dirty and as we have no shower facilities that is how they stay until school closes at 5pm,” explained Mike Sssekaggo.

After his time at our College Mr Sssekaggo said,” “My visit has been exciting in all aspects. I have enjoyed every moment of my stay at Spires. The staff are so lovely, cooperative and willing to help and share their expertise and resources with my school Wampeewo Ntakke Secondary School. The highlight of this visit is that our link has been cemented more. A couple of  projects to be jointly worked on have been hatched like writing a Cookery book with exciting British and Ugandan recipes in and a play and songs to be composed and recorded by both schools, collaboration on fine Art work ,continued marketing of products of social enterprise from Wampeewo students and others.

Jon Willmore, who runs the Connecting Classrooms project at The Spires College, put on a varied and interesting timetable of events across the week for their special guest.

“It has been a privilege to host Mike with particular interest from the Creative Arts department and Young Enterprise students in collaborating further with Wampeewo Ntakke students on various song/dance/art and businesses collaboration. Over 200 students from various year groups are now also involved in creating pen pals linkages. “