A large group, led by Isabel Hodger, one of the Hastings Friendship Link’s Education Liaison Officers, left for our Twin Town in Sierra Leone on February 9th for 10 days.
Thirteen teacher members of the group will be using their half-term break to work in African partner schools sharing experiences to bring back to their classrooms in the UK.
Two additional members of the group, local solicitors Richard Lane and Jenna French, have sporting expertise to share, eagerly anticipated by host schools.
In addition to the work of the Friendship Link in schools, support for the Health Centre in Hastings Village has been a long-term concern and Christine Boulton-Lane is travelling with the group to continue her work on this aspect. Our friends in Sierra Leone regularly express the view that Health and Education are their top national priorities.
Schools and Academies represented in the exchange are All Saints’, The Baird, Chantry (Bexhill) Christ Church, Hollington and Guestling Bradshaw Primaries and St Leonards Secondary Academy.
Classroom projects will be based around themes suggested by the British Council as part of its financial and educational support for the exchange.
Links between schools here and in Hastings Sierra Leone have been developing since the Twinning of the two towns in 2007. Roger Mitchell, who has been involved from the beginning, said, “It has been a real privilege to witness the impact these exchanges continue to make on teachers both here and in Sierra Leone and how the education of their pupils is enhanced as a result”.
Fay Jagot, from Battle and Langton School, has recently joined the partnership and commented, “I have worked with children for 20 years, yet have never previously witnessed such enthusiasm from children to find out, learn and correspond across the miles”. Corinne Harris from Dudley Infant School who has been involved for several years said, “Our link with Edest School has been an empowering project for pupils and teachers alike. Children both in the UK and in Africa have benefited greatly by meeting visitors from their partner schools
As well as time to relax with partners out of school, there will be a whole day Education Conference held at the headquarters of the British Council in Freetown.
Some members of the group will find time to see for themselves the devastation caused by the recent mud-slides in the hills between Hastings and Freetown. They will meet some of the surviving but displaced families being helped by generous donations from folk associated with the Link.
It is hoped that a return party can visit the UK towards the end of the Summer Term.
Find out more about the Friendship Link and the work it is doing in Hastings, Sierra Leone at our website: