The Kingsley School played host to two teachers from the Mahamaya Girls’ College in Kandy, Sri Lanka as part of an exchange programme organised by Global Schools Partnerships.
Supported by the British Council, Global Schools Partnerships help schools develop curriculum projects together based on global themes. Since the programme started ten years ago, nearly 2,800 partnerships have been established between UK schools and those in 57 countries worldwide.
Our visitors spent a week at Kingsley, staying at the home of the School’s Head of Learning Support Mrs Louise Stevenson, who visited the Mahamaya Girls’ College with fellow teacher Mrs Janet Hilton in March this year.
It was the first time English teacher Mrs Chandrani Dissanayake and Science teacher Mrs Maheswari Bulankulama have travelled out of their native Sri Lanka.
Their school has 2,000 primary and 4,000 senior pupils with over 50 girls in each class, so they found Kingsley very different. However, they thought there wasn’t very much difference between students saying: “the girls’ behaviour and attitude to work is very similar.”
Teaching methods are very different as in Sri Lanka they have to work to very strict timetables to cover all the topics to be tested in a written examination at the end of each term.
“We have to lecture the students about the subject matter and don’t have the time to set the scene or look at the background to what we are teaching due to our heavy workload. Each period is only 40 minutes long so we have to plan ahead to make sure everything is covered,” explained Mrs Dissanayake.
Whilst students at the Girls’ College are able to use computers in school, there is no ICT equipment in individual classrooms – in fact resources are very limited. Mrs Bulankulama is quite used to working in a laboratory with only one Bunsen burner so she has to demonstrate experiments and students do not have the opportunity to have a go themselves.
The school day in Sri Lanka is from 7.30am to 1.30pm. It is not unusual for students to stay after school and work in the holidays. Any trips or extra curricular activities take place after school or during the weekends.
“Education is the most important thing in our country and parents push their children. Most students go for extra tuition after school or take part in voluntary service,” explained Mrs Dissanayake.
She and her colleague said they had felt very welcome at Kingsley and had thoroughly enjoyed being part of the school community for a week.
Before they left a special assembly was held in Senior School to wish them a fond farewell.