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posted 1 Jul 2015, 14:08 by Stephen Eccles   [ updated 1 Jul 2015, 14:14 ]
Commenius Photo
Revellers packed the junior hall at Barton Hill Academy to meet their Comenius Project partners from schools all over Europe in celebration of their friendship. The hall, regaled in European flags and national emblems, greeted the twenty seven teachers and pupils from the European Union with a “last night of the proms” style welcome.

Music of Elgar accompanied the visitors before The Academy sang “Bienvenue,” (welcome) especially written for the occasion by Music Co-ordinator, David Gray. An opening address from Head teacher Jane Young was followed by introductions from Barton children in the mother languages of The Academy’s guests. National flowers designed and made by the children under the guidance of Arts Co-ordinator Alison Birchall, were presented, before the whole school roused to a medley of Beatles hits.

A musical extravaganza followed. A calypso from The Academy’s steel drum band, “London’s Burning” from the ukulele section. Traditional country style dancing followed on stage, morphing into something more modern and upbeat from the school’s dance troop, in routines choreographed by Miss Bywaters. The stage show culminated in an unforgettable performance from the Staff Band. Dressed in hats of a nautical fashion, Madame Belle (Modern Foreign Languages Co-ordinator) on clarinet, and Mrs Bamber, (Bassoon) were supported by flautists Mrs Mosely, Mrs Archer, and Miss Bywaters, aided by able seamen Kirby (Bongos) and Cowling (gong)! It was back to Elgar, and the atmosphere built as the allegro gathered  to the repeated introductory verse to Land of Hope and Glory. The tempo and crescendo rose and rose. The party was in full swing, as The Prommers gyrated to the excitement of the music; the assembly, now a sea of flag waving children and awe struck guests, as the band broke into the James Bond, 007 theme tune!

Naturally, the welcome ended with a rendition of The National Anthem, which raised the rafters, and the revellers peeled out to their classrooms singing  “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” reminiscent of the welcome visitors enjoy at Twickenham!

What a start to an action packed itinerary!

Next for the delegates was a grand tour of The Academy, accompanied by Barton children in the role of International Ambassadors. Classroom doors were opened for the visitors to see Academy children and teachers at work in a range of activities: crafts for Bulgarian visitors in Reception class, Smartie Maths for the Danish in year one and Maypole dancing from year three. On viewing the year six “parliamentary debating lesson,” one teacher remarked, “that was excellent. I will take that idea home with me,” which symbolised the value of the proliferation of ideas and methods intrinsic to international sharing in this way.

The overseas visitors were invited, and keen to pass their messages to Barton children themselves. The Spanish team opted for P.E. and provided an excellent lesson in technical footballing skills. At one point during the afternoon, the sun kissed playground was awash with children emulating Ronaldo type ball skills. The joy exuding from their faces: a sheer delight to experience.

John Rolfe, Assistant School Advisor to The British council who coordinate and develop such international projects commented,

“Barton Hill Academy is an outstanding example of how schools can connect across Europe. It has been a privilege to meet so many committed and passionate educators, all of whom are having a massive impact on the lives and aspirations of young people. Many congratulations on your Etwinning activity. The power, value and benefit of international school linking are superbly demonstrated throughout this fantastic school.”

Commenius 2

Head teacher Jane young added.

“The essence of Etwinning for our teachers is the opportunity to access the intellectual exchange of ideas which allows them to hone their practice. Implicitly our children benefit from this process. Explicitly, it is simply an opening of children's minds to an extension of their conceptual boundaries by embracing alternative lifestyles. It is culturally enriching. I would like to express my thanks to Angela Farrell and Paula Bell who coordinate our links and work tirelessly for us. Our children and our staff know our academy is an outstanding place to learn. It has been wonderful having the opportunity to showcase it.”