Project meeting at Qala Primary School from Tuesday 8th -14th April 2014
Attendees: Project coordinator Anton Verwey, Elena, and Diana Brouwer. (from OBS Het Palet, Opheusden, Netherlands), Martina Walsh and Linda Farrell (from St Cronan’s BNS Bray, Ireland), Peter Schonger (from Volksschule Plangeross, Austria).
Wednesday 9th April:
The visiting members from Ireland and the Netherlands travelled directly to Qala Primary School to meet with Comenius group and the Qala teaching staff. Following mid-morning break the entire Comenius group visited some classrooms and met teachers and pupils. At lunchtime the group had the pleasure of fine dining at the I.T.S. restaurant in Qala which is part of the Gozo Tourism Catering College. Later in the afternoon the visiting members set off on a cultural sightseeing trip of Gozo. Their first stop was at the awe-inspiring megalithic complex of Ggantija in Xaghra. In the evening the group met for dinner at a restaurant in Xlendi.
The group returned to Qala School where they met with their colleagues in Mrs Sandra’s Casarini’s Office, who was the Head of School at that time, for a meeting to discuss the evaluation stage of the project. Later that morning, as part of Qala’s interpretation of the Comenius Anti-Xenophobia Project, the pupils of Years 5 and 6 performed a musical for us. It was directed by their Music teacher, Ms. Sylvana Cini. The musical was called ‘The Peace Child’ and was truly spectacular.
That afternoon’s sightseeing included a trip by minibus to The Azure Window and the surroundings. Their next stop was the famous Ta’Pinu Sanctuary.
The day began with visits to two of the Junior classes – Maria Assunta’ s Kinder 1 class and Year 2. All the members of the visiting group had prepared a photographic presentation about their school and the locality and delivered it in front of the pupils. The pupils were especially happy to receive the teddy bear stickers and other gifts from the Irish group and cookies from the Dutch group. The visiting members admitted that they were struck by the pupils’ spontaneity and good humour. Then, the Comenius group, including Mrs. Brown, observed an English lesson on ‘How to Make Toast’ conducted by the Year 5 teacher. Once again the pupils were very attentive and engaged, and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘hands on’ experience.
Before lunch the visiting group paid a courtesy visit to the Principal of Gozo College and discussed about the project’s outcomes. Following their final lunch with the Comenius colleagues, they spent the afternoon sightseeing in Victoria.
Monday 14th April 2014
On Monday morning the group visited Sannat Primary School where they received a very warm welcome and renewed friendships with their colleagues. At school the Comenius partners took part in the Stations of the Cross. Then they visited the Special Education Unit where they were shown the excellent facilities. The group members joined some classes in the school hall where Peter from Austria was showing a powerpoint presentation on the Comenius visit to his school last January.
The second project meeting at Qala Primary School from Tuesday 14th –Friday 17th October 2014
Attendees: Project coordinator Anton Verwey, Jeanette Palelopheusden, Anga (from OBS Het Palet, Opheusden, Netherlands), Sinéad Slater, Niamh Breathnach and Kevin Vance (from St Cronan’s BNS Bray, Ireland).
Tuesday 14th October
The visiting group meet the Gozitan colleagues from Qala Primary.
Wednesday 15th October
The group visited Gozo College Qala Primary school. They were warmly welcomed by the new Head of School Marcellus Xuereb and they were introduced to the members of the staff. Following that, they were taken on a tour of the school. They visited all classrooms and spoke with the students who were eager and excited to meet their visitors. The group appreciated the fact that arts play an important role in the Maltese education; subject experts are involved in the teaching of drama, art and music. They realised how our system differs from the Irish and Dutch systems where teachers are involved in teaching all subjects. Our class sizes are noticeably smaller than in Ireland and teachers can engage more with their pupils. Our system can provide more individual help support and attention. From the outset, they were struck by the calm relaxed atmosphere that pervades in the school. They were also impressed by the warm, caring relationship that exists between teacher and pupil.
Following a short tea break where they sampled traditional Gozitan cakes and pastries, they continued their tour of the school. They witnessed a lively open air P.E (Physical Education) lesson which involved running games and ball drills. After that, they visited the pre-school section of Qala Primary.
Later that morning they were treated to a wonderful musical performance. Under the guidance of the music teacher Slyvana Cini, every class sang lovely melodious songs on the project theme of xenophobia. The importance of peace, love, harmony and tolerance was emphasised. The pupil played their percussion instruments with great energy and enthusiasm. It was a very enjoyable experience for the visitors.
Afterwards, they visited the complementary classroom where pupils read stories they had written on the project theme of xenophobia. The children had discussed and explored the concepts of acceptance, empathy and openness in a meaningful and interesting way.
Following a staff project meeting, we participated in a science and technology lesson with the senior pupils. The pupils were asked to construct a tower structure using only spaghetti and marshmallows. This science activity served to consolidate basic mathematical concepts of shape and space, and allowed the pupils to engage in a fun filled group activity. They were encouraged to work in a scientific manner. They had to communicate with their peers, reason, predict, design and construct their towers.
Finally, after a delicious lunch, they said goodbye to the Gozitan colleagues. Their first day in Qala Primary was certainly an interesting and informative one. Later in the afternoon, the visiting group, with the Gozo colleagues, visited the stunning Citadel, the Gozo Cathedral and the museums in Victoria. That evening they enjoyed a dinner in a local restaurant with the Qala teaching staff.
Thursday 17th October
They returned to Qala Primary and the Dutch colleagues taught an art history lesson. They showed the pupils a selection of Van Gogh paintings and then they invited the pupils to draw their own pictures inspired by Van Gogh’s wonderful “Starry Night”.
This was followed by the Irish presentation which showcased the history, landscape and cultural attraction of our native isle. The visiting group chaired a question and answer session with the senior pupils.
Subsequently, they visited Sannat Primary School, a larger school which includes a Special Education Unit. Once again they toured the classrooms and met met with the pupils and the teachers. They got the sense that each child’s abilities and needs were known and that each child was encouraged to progress at his or her own rate depending on their ability. They noticed that several special needs children were included in the mainstream setting with special assistance. The care and attention they receive which is exceptional is a benefit to the other pupils in the mainstream as they develop greater empathy and understanding. This type of experience will enable the pupils to identify with and accept pupils from other cultural backgrounds.
That afternoon they visited the beautiful coastal region of Dwejra and took a boat ride to view the stunning “Azure Window”. They visited Dwejra tower and observed a presentation by Mario Gauci. The visiting group also visited an organic farm where they sampled local honey, carob and cheese. Moreover, they realised how agriculture plays an important role in the Gozitans way of life. Another action packed day ended with a meal with our colleagues where we had the opportunity to discuss the day’s events and how the project was progressing.
Friday 17th October
On Friday they visited the megalithic complex of Ggantija and Ninu’s cave in Xaghra where they were surprised to see stalactites and stalagmite formations in a cave of a local home.
Together with the Comenius group, Qala teaching staff and the SMT had a final meeting to evaluate the project. We discussed the weeks activities, the work covered on the xenophobia theme and discussed the cultural integration of the children within the school. The group relayed their impressions of the schools we visited.
This trip proved to be a thoroughly informative and beneficial experience for the colleagues. It allowed the, to develop professionally by comparing and contrasting education in Gozo with their education system.