A HEADTEACHER and four members of staff have travelled to Gran Canaria during term time to take part in a £21,000 EU-funded project to study how children play and learn.
Andrew Jervis, head of Crowhurst Primary School, left for the Canary Islands on Wednesday for the eight-day trip.
He took two teachers and two other members of staff to take part in the Comenius project. A supply teacher was drafted in.
The school, which draws many pupils from Hastings and St Leonards, is the only one in East Sussex taking part in the scheme which examines childhood, play and learning across the continent.
The Gran Canaria trip is the first in the scheme with subsequent visits to partner schools in Turkey and Italy planned in the future.
Parent Jo Nesbit, from St Leonards, is angry the project has been organised during term time.
She said: “We are continually told it is unacceptable for us to take children out of school in term time. Surely the sign of good leadership would be to set an example and not take five members of staff away from their duties during term time. While I appreciate this trip is being funded by the European Commission as part of the life-long learning programme, my child will be deprived of his life-long learning during this time. I am also anxious to know how the studying of ‘play’ in other countries will benefit a school with a very limited sports mindset. Surely it would be far more beneficial for our staff to focus on engaging children in British sports and working them into the curriculum. Also parents only found out full details the week before they went.”
Christine Bune, grandparent of a pupil, who lives in St Leonards, said: “It seems to be one rule for pupils one and one for the teacher. Surely it could have been done over the internet or over a webcam. There’s no reason for them to go over to the Canaries to learn how to play for eight days.”
Comenius is a program administered in the UK by the British Council and named after Jan Amos Comenius who is considered the father of modern education. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding among young people and education staff and help young people acquire basic life skills and competencies for personal development.
Mr Jervis said: “The project will allow our pupils to learn alongside children from other parts of Europe. It will benefit all school staff either by making visits or working on the project back in school through working alongside colleagues from the EU delivering activities and developing the work of the school. Subsequent visits may be scheduled at least in part over UK school holidays.”