SEVEN teachers who spent a week teaching in Hastings’s twin town in Sierra Leone have spoken about their “life-changing” trip.
Lynn White and Katie Tomei from Blacklands, Dawn Paines from Christ Church, Mandy Hinxman from Little Ridge, Sue Furness from St-Mary-Star-of-the-Sea and Melinda Spearman from Filsham Valley, flew out during half term along with Roger Mitchell of the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link.
They all took lessons in their sister schools in Sierra Leone and came back full of tales about their trip.
Mrs Spearman, a humanities teacher, told the Observer: “It was absolutely amazing, a brilliant experience. The school was very poor with no electricity or running water and the building was far too small for the number of children so they had to have a shift system with the junior school in the morning and the seniors in the afternoon.
“The children were really engaged and asked lots of questions.
“They were really interested in our children - we had done some work on their relationships with their parents and they couldn’t believe they would say no when asked to do something.
“The children here have loved seeing the pictures and seem amazed that somebody is so interested in them.”
The group also toured the Twin Town Centre - paid for through the link - and saw the new library, and they were guests of honour at a string of events from a barbecue to a sports day. Mr Mitchell said: “Compared to my initial visit four years ago self-build houses are springing up rapidly.
“I was welcomed warmly by the headteachers and staff of both schools I visited who are keen to share teaching and cultural insights with us.”
Thanks to British Council grants eight teachers will be coming to 1066 Country in June, and Mandy Hinxman said: “Such an enriching experience will help us to develop our curriculum at Little Ridge and at Jui-Lower for the greater benefit of our pupils.”