Teaching staff from Beeston Primary School are set to visit Swaziland and two children that the school sponsor later in the year to exchange skills, particularly of the music variety! Catherine Allen, a teacher at Beeston Primary with responsibility for developing the global dimensions curriculum within school developed the partnership with Swaziland through a connection at her church.
A fellow church member, Jon, was responsible for organising the Khulula choir to sing and share their stories and music in the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as Swaziland. The choir combines traditional Swazi songs and celebrations of dance and Catherine was truly touched by their amazing voices and the project Jon has developed.
Following this visit by the choir, Beeston Primary decided to sponsor two children who are aids orphans to enable them to receive an education. Twice a year they hold a fundraising event to send their contribution for both children. Recently the school held an African day raising over £300 where the children dressed in African clothing and started the day by listening to the Zulu Warriors and watched them perform traditional dance. Catherine said “It was an awesome day for all!”
Jon asked in September if as a school they would now like to visit and exchange skills. The staff will meet their sponsored children – Phiwa and Senzo and Catherine’s daughter Grace is also going to meet Sophia, a teenager who the family personally sponsor through the scheme.
The school feel a strong connection with the Khulula choir as music plays a big part in daily life at Beeston Primary. They have an established choir and music teacher Danny Gamble and teaching assistant Yvonne Ugarte have written several songs together that have been performed by the children at major events in the city.
‘Child of the Universe’ was written to celebrate the school winning a prestigious School of Sanctuary Award. The school choir performed the song at the award ceremony and was so rapturously received that it will now appear on the City of Sanctuary website. The school now plan to release this song on a CD to raise funds for charity. The launch of this CD will take place at the White Rose Centre at the end of January where the school choir will perform the song.
Danny and Yvonne hope to be able to use their musical talents while in Swaziland to work with the children and choir there. Danny certainly has a wealth of experience to draw upon including playing the part of Benny Anderson in an ABBA tribute act which toured the UK and played at a South African music festival to 52,000 people!
Upon the staff’s return to Beeston they feel that the benefits of this visit to their pupils will be huge. With 20% of their children having English as an additional language, the school feel it is vital that they work hard to celebrate diversity and to teach the children about the different problems that are faced by other communities around the world. As a group they intend to set up a blog in order for the pupils here to become pen pals with the children in Swaziland. They also plan to deliver other projects, possibly of a musical nature in order to re-inforce the learning of their pupils and make sure they all benefit from the special visit that the staff will make.
Project details can be viewed www.cmswazi.org.uk and there is a Bulembu Facebook page where they can keep up to date with what is happening in Swaziland.