International Reading Project
As part of our World Book Day celebrations Coombe Girls' School students were given the chance to join in with a cultural exchange opportunity with some of our partner schools around the world. Students were encouraged to produce an original piece of poetry or prose exploring their identity. Alternatively they could share a story which was important to their identity and cultural background. A number of students in Year 7-10 joined in with the project and lots of engaging and thoughtful work was produced. The competition winners at Coombe Girls' School were Mariam Kajee (Year 9) with her piece 'Who Are You' and Suin Lee (Year 8) with her poem, 'I come From'.
The second stage of the project gave students an opportunity to engage with the work produced by our partner schools: Fodoa Senior High School located between Kumasi and Accra in Ghana and Nicolae Balcescu Secondary school near Bacau in Romania. Students at these schools had recorded themselves reading poetry, stories and histories which provided an insight into their interests as well as their cultures and identities. As part of our Culture Day celebrations students at Coombe were given a chance to listen to one of these recordings before writing a response to the students in Ghana and Romania. This gave our students the chance to explore new stories and consider aspects of culture in other parts of the world. This project will continue in 2023-24.
At Coombe we learn to travel and travel to learn.
Our international ventures are linked to what we learn in the classroom, so we can explore different cultures, learn languages and challenge misconceptions.
Our students have the opportunity to visit France, New York, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany and also various local destinations such as the British Museum, Tate or West End theatres.
We run an Erasmus + Project 'Tolerant Individuals of Europe' (part of the British Council initiative) with our sister schools in Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia and Romania.
We also have a long-term collaboration with St Peter's School in Ghana and links to secondary schools in Germany and France.
Erasmus + Project
A trip to North Macedonia, part of the Erasmus+ Project took place in February 2022. Here is what the students have said:
'Thank you for letting me be a part of the trip to North Macedonia. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the whole trip and managed to learn about other cultures and also learnt about the history of the country'
'During the trip to North Macedonia, we made memories that I will cherish and will remember for a long time. From experiencing new cultures and seeing others ways of living, to making new friends and bonds that will last a lifetime. This trip was truly so fun and I hope to get the opportunity to experience something like this again!'
'The Erasmus trip to North Macedonia was a life changing experience that has given me an opportunity to meet my family and connect with my background. I have had the opportunity to learn about the history of North Macedonia and see how different communities live.
The highlights of this trip was getting to visit Tetovo and learn about the Macedonian Albanian community. I enjoyed visiting the Capital City, Skopje, and getting the chance to explore the old town. I also enjoyed visiting different museums in Skopje as they were very informative.
I am really looking forward to welcoming the Macedonian students to our school and country. I am very grateful for the experience and I would highly recommend to all other students to take part in upcoming Erasmus exchange programs'
'During our trip to North Macedonia for the Erasmus+ project, we did crafts at the hosting school, we did souvenir shopping, we explored the local town, discovered places of worship, visited an art gallery, went into the capital city, Skopje, had great fun at a ski resort and met the Mayor. This trip has been an experience of a lifetime and has truly been an amazing week. Recognising diversity in different places has helped me to build my understanding of tolerance as well as develop as a person. Not only has the entire trip been diverse, each day has been different with a range of activities to spark everyone’s interests. Overall, the trip has been beyond amazing and the memories we all made together will never be forgotten. I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity'
'On the Erasmus trip to Macedonia, I really enjoyed exploring new cultures and meeting different people as it gave me an insight to how others live in different parts of the world'
A trip to Poland, part of the Erasmus+ Project took place in March/April 2022
From 27 March to 02 April, a group of Y8 students visited Poland.
Here is what they said before the trip and what they did during the weekly visit:
In my lifetime, I feel some in our nation have gone from being tolerant and welcoming to dangerously narrow-minded while elsewhere in Europe, it appears as if history is repeating itself less than 100 years since the Second World War. Having the opportunity to see how the intolerance of the past affected Poland and all of Europe would be both a remarkable experience but also haunting and I would be very privileged to be a part of it.
Given the sudden change of events, it is even more important than ever to be welcoming and forward thinking - certainly, from my own experience, being treated differently is very damaging and I am learning to cope with judgmental attitudes and believe no one should be told they are different in a harmful way. I believe tolerance is one of the most important virtues and as a country and as individuals, it is vital we are tolerant of others.
Lois Young, Y8
To me, tolerance means accepting other people's opinion even if they are different from yours or if you do not agree with them and this without judgement or criticism. I believe everybody is entitled to their own opinion and belief. The reasons why I would like to go to Poland are because I think it will be a unique opportunity to see how other people live and to notice cultural differences between Poland and England. Looking at some pretty pictures of Zielona Góra and Wrocław online, I can see how beautiful they are. Meeting students from other countries like Turkey, North Macedonia and Romania will be really interesting.
Margaux Cooper, Y8
To me, tolerance is the act of welcoming all ideas no matter what you personally agree with, and how you can open-mindedly consider their thoughts and opinions to progress and together make a positive impact. I think tolerance is a hugely significant aspect of life, therefore, we should respect the importance of it in day to day life.
Hanna Norman, Y8
I’ve always been fascinated in learning other cultures and challenging and expanding my knowledge around our planet. My meaning of tolerance is to accept and willingly allow others' opinions, whether or not I might agree with them, and to stay composed. I think Poland will help expand my cultural diversity and in particular, with the current political situation in Ukraine.
Ella Moseley, Y8
A trip to Romania took place in May 2022
In May 2022, a group of students visited our sister school in Bacau, Romania. Our pupils discussed many topics related to the topic of inclusion, tolerance and understanding. We participated in a cultural assembly with traditional dance and music, met local representatives (including the Mayor of Nicolaie Balcescu), took part in a Marathon of Tolerance, watched a play and designed tolerance t-shirts. Doina Melinte, multiple olympic Gold medalist, came to join all Erasmus+ representatives as she awarded the top 3 winners of the sporting challenge. In the last 3 days of our stay, we explored Dracula's Castle in Transylvania and Bucharest where we had an opportunity to visit the Parliament.
Erasmus+ week in London, June 2022
Coombe hosted our partners for a week of cross-curricular activities around the themes of tolerance, inclusion and cultural understanding. Students had an opportunity to explore different parts of the capital and its multicultural heritage, by visiting the Museum of London, Royal Borough of Greenwich and Kingston upon Thames among many others.
In language lessons students learn about famous French, Spanish and German artists.
Pupils practise how to describe a painting in the target language and they create a painting inspired by an artist.
We share and discuss students' creations with our partner schools.
The theme of diversity and inclusion matters in our school. We celebrate the Black History Month, Languages Week and we learn about changing realities, role models,
LGBT+ inclusion in the UK and other countries, social media and their importance in young people's lives, history of who we are and our understanding of our identities (what does it mean to be British?)
Our Drama department offers a study of various international theatre practitioners: Constantin Stanislavski (Russia), Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Augusto Boal (Brazil), Jerzy Grotowski (Poland), Antonin Artaud (France) among many others. Study of each play offers an opportunity to discuss historical and geographical aspects, life of the author, messages conveyed in the content and how they could be received and interpreted (then and) today in our (or other) country.
Our Media provision offers lessons to KS4 and KS5 students and it's also open to KS3 pupils as an extracurricular club.
We look at different types of movie industries: Japanese, Chinese, European, Hollywood, Bollywood, Korean among many others.
Some of the productions explored in our department are Pan's Labyrinth (investigating links with Spanish civil war), City of God (Brazil of today, identity, poverty, favelas, crime, drugs), Deutschland 1983 (socialist reality in Europe, history of Germany, today vs then, Easter vs Western Europe), Parasite (Korean depiction of society).
In Latin study we explore a range of texts about cross-influences of the ancient worlds. Students (part of the after-school Latin Club) travel to Rome or Athens to investigate what they have learnt in the classroom about the Roman and Greek empire and look at different aspects of topics such as: influence of eastern art, Alexandria, slavery, the meaning of 'civilised' then and today.
In Geography, we take part in the Royal Geographical Society initiative (Young Geographer of the Year), study about climate change (hurricanes, wealthy vs poor, deforestation, palm oil production, sustainable tourism) and relate it to our existing partnerships. We explore the topic of refugees (mainly focusing on the situation in the US, Syria, India and Mexico) which is linked to our tutor provision, so students can apply their reflections vs political and historical dependencies and cross-influences. There are also opportunities to meet representatives from our partner schools (part of the Erasmus + Project) during the official visits and shared assemblies.