Long-standing international links help Lockerbie pupils develop skills for learning, life and work
Pupils at a Scottish school are meeting children from around the world, gaining new skills and opening up opportunities for their futures through Erasmus+.
Lockerbie, in southwest Scotland, is known across the world for the air tragedy of December 1988.
Out of the ashes of the disaster, however, has risen a spirit of peace, collaboration and cooperation which has been championed by children and staff at Lockerbie Primary School for more than 20 years
“We have had a focus on international work with experience of a number of Comenius, Erasmus+ and British Council Connecting Classrooms projects," said head teacher Karen Carter. "Many of our international links have been in place for 15-20 years, including our link with a school for blind pupils in Bethlehem.
“Our other focus is on peace and we were designated the first Peace School in Scotland in June 2019 by the Goi Foundation in Japan. Every year in September, our International Peace Day activities are shared with schools in up to 18 partner countries, from India, Sri Lanka, Canada, Palestine and Pakistan as well as all our European partners.”
The school’s international work has not gone unnoticed; it has been recognised in the Scottish Education Awards International Education and Languages category, where it was in the top three in 2019.
Energize You Up!
Recently, Lockerbie Primary has partnered with schools in Turkey and Germany for an Erasmus+ School Exchange partnership.
“The Energize You Up! project is improving our pupils’ learning skills using energizers and calming activities in the classroom," said Karen.
“We recognised that the use of technology and gaming for pupils has impacted negatively on the time they spend outside and their ability to focus. The idea of friendship has changed due to the online world and we felt that it was important for pupils to meet and work collaboratively with others in order to develop their skills for learning, life and work.
“In addition to the three funded partners, a school from Moscow with whom we have worked for many years participated in the project as a 'silent' unfunded partner.
"We started the project with an eTwinning activity, finding out about our partner countries through the exchange of ‘Culture in a Box’. This is something we have done many times now with different partners.
"Pupils in each country discuss and vote for the 10 items which they feel represent their culture and these are sent in a shoebox to the other country. Our pupils always include rain in the form of a tartan umbrella! Before opening the return parcel, pupils research the country and guess what will be in the box.
“During the project, most activities in our own schools were based around trying out various energizers in the classroom in order to investigate which ones improve learning. Traditional playground games were also investigated and tried out by groups of pupils.
Over the week of each mobility, the pupils grew in confidence, developed friendships and improved their language skills immensely
"During each mobility, pupils presented their country, their school and the work that had been done in each school. Pupils from each country worked together as a team and developed their communication, collaboration and cooperation skills.
"The mobilities all involved time in class as well as cultural activities, which included a day in Berlin, Edinburgh and Ankara, traditional meals out, visits to traditional museums and shopping areas, and a ceilidh in Lockerbie with the local pipe band and Scottish country dancing."
Benefits for pupils and staff
“Over the week of each mobility, the pupils grew in confidence, developed friendships and improved their language skills immensely. The soft skills they learned will have a huge impact on their life - to attain, achieve and participate.
"Many of the pupils have never owned a passport or been abroad before, but the experience of travelling with Erasmus+ gives them confidence to do this again in the future."
Pupil Archie Jarvis said: “I went to Ankara, Turkey, with Lockerbie Primary last year. I really enjoyed it because I met many new Turkish and German friends that I still keep in touch with today.
"I also enjoyed learning about the Turkish culture and seeing the towns and cities. It is something that I will never forget, especially the kind and welcoming people.”
Many previous pupils who have taken part go on to take on roles of responsibility at secondary school.
Karen explained how, although in the early years very few staff wanted to be part of the mobilities, now more than 20 teachers and non-teaching staff have participated.
“Through taking part in mobilities staff develop a different relationship with our pupils. They also value the new relationships with colleagues in different countries and real friendships have been made.”
Lockerbie Primary has a Nursery and Learning Centre for pupils aged 2-18 with complex needs and the school have benefited from the additional Erasmus+ funding available for pupils with special needs. In this project, it enabled one pupil to travel with full funding.
"It is vital that all students who want to travel have the opportunity and the support to do this. In previous activities, we have been able to have additional staff to support a pupil with ADHD and another with ASD during mobilities," Karen said.
"This has been vital to the success of the visit for these pupils and broke down barriers for them.”
Karen has many positive memories of the school’s international work but highlights just a couple.
“We use signing in school, as we believe it’s an important skill to develop, not just improving overall communication but also increasing confidence. We shared this with partners in Germany during their visit to Lockerbie - the week before the coronavirus lockdown!
"I filmed children from each of the countries as part of one of our eTwinning projects, signing and saying the words for different colours in their own languages. It was a special moment for me.
"Another one would be when we went to Germany and took part in outdoor activities, including daily yoga, in a large park near the school each day. Despite being anxious about this at the start, our pupils and staff loved this part of the day and definitely benefitted from the activity.
“I do not allow pupils to take any devices on mobilities and without fail, at the end of the trips, they say that they haven’t really missed them as they have been so busy. A return to small games like Uno, Top Trumps and cards is enjoyable for all!"
Want to find out more about using eTwinning to start an Erasmus+ project? Visit our eTwinning page!