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Today in Saudi

Here’s how one school in the North of England formed very special links with a school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. If your school would like to make contact with a school in Saudi Arabia, ask your teacher to click on the following link for further information:

info@exploresaudiarabia.com


The Saudi Arabia – United Kingdom Schools Links Project

School project - montage

The vision

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in London provided the vision for the project in 1994 when they invited our school to take part in a Saudi National Day Schools’ Project. As part of that invitation they said, "The future is in the hands of the young. The better they understand each other, the more positive our future will be." The fact that we shared that same vision led us to complete our first project on Saudi Arabia and in doing so it raised as many questions as answers.

The project stimulated the imagination of both staff and children and led to a desire to know more about the everyday life of a school in the Kingdom, and to share with the children there some basic information about life here at North Reddish Junior School, in Stockport, Cheshire.

A group of children from North Reddish Junior School were invited to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, where they were able to meet the Ambassador and enjoy first hand traditional Saudi hospitality. Following this visit to London, four copies of a special hand-made book were produced to record the development of the first link between our school and Saudi Arabia. In their own words, and using their own photographs, the children remembered their visit to the embassy in London. They wrote about the history of their own town and school and they explained and illustrated many aspects of school life in the United Kingdom.

More questions

The production of this book about their own school led to even more questions about what school was like for children in Saudi Arabia - questions that unfortunately we were unable to answer, even via the local library! The only solution was to explore the various ways of exchanging this information with children who live and go to school in Saudi Arabia.

With the help of the Saudi Arabian Information Centre in London we were able to make contact with Al Anjal School in Jeddah and in 1997 the first, and still the only, primary education link was established between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

School entranceRecent tragic global events have only served to convince us all the more of the need to encourage our children to develop their own opinions based upon fact, rather than media coverage of events. The children in our schools are perfectly capable of forming their own opinions, but it is important that these opinions are based upon real facts, genuine understanding and personal knowledge.

Understanding each other

It is important that they grow up understanding that other countries are not just pictures in books and a list of facts and figures. They must appreciate, above all, that a country such as Saudi Arabia is made up of people and families just like their own. They should learn to develop a mutual trust and understanding of each other’s beliefs and lifestyles. We are not trying to change or influence these beliefs; just the reverse, in fact. Children are more likely to cherish something and feel that it is important, if they are able to share its value for themselves with other children who have a genuine interest.

So often it is the tragic, or the actions of extremists that constitute the news that is beamed directly into our homes and if we are not careful, this is how our children form their opinions. We all live in a world of rapidly developing technology and it rests with us as responsible adults to ensure that our children are encouraged with our support and guidance to make the maximum use of this to discover the truth about each other and so begin to understand and value each other.

Unfortunately, normal family life and normal school life will never make the news, but these are the things that are so important for the future stability of our countries and are also the things that fascinate and intrigue our children. The simple questions such as ‘what do you eat, where and what do you play, what are your schools and homes like? are what children want to ask each other.

Here at North Reddish Junior School, we are honest about ourselves. We know that we are not unique and never will be. However, for the children and staff who work here, our school is a very special place, full of very special people. We have welcomed the opportunity to share this experience with Alanjal School in Saudi Arabia and we feel very proud of the fact that we have established the very first primary school link between our two countries.

 

signature
Colin R Manning
Headteacher
North Reddish Junior School
Cheshire

colin.manning@northreddish-jun.stockport.sch.uk


The Schools Link Project has inspired these events in school:

Display of a full-size Bedouin tent, related costumes and artifacts, on loan from the British Museum. The school was open to parents and local people, over 800 of whom visited the school in the week that the display took place.

A special Saudi Day, to welcome Mohammed Ghouth, the General Manager from Al Anjal School in Jeddah, with Saudi food, visiting speakers, displays of artifacts, pictures and books. The day was attended by the Mayor of Stockport, the Director of Education and covered in the local press.

Talks on customs, culture and home life by Saudi Arabian ladies studying English at Manchester University.

Children from Year 3 going to the Language Study Centre at Manchester University to learn simple Arabic.

Young Saudi engineers training at BAE Systems in the UK have been in to talk to the children, do simple experiments on desalination with them in the classroom, and play football!

A telephone link-up was made with Al Anjal School and internet research on the area undertaken.

A project looking at Islamic art involved creating pictures and models of mosques.


The following examples illustrate how the Schools Links Project can be curriculum-relevant for students. Key stage 2 is for students aged between seven and eleven.

Key Stage 2 Programme of Study

Geography

1. Pupils should be given opportunities to:
a. Investigate places and themes across a widening range of scales. [Using world maps and globes to locate our two countries and where we both live within those countries]
b. Undertake studies that focus on geographical questions, e.g. "What/where is it?", "What is it like?", "How did it get like this?", "How and why is it changing?" The development of knowledge and understanding about places. [How much more meaningful if a child can ask these simple questions themselves and get the answers from another child who lives there]
c. Develop the ability to recognize patterns, variations in rainfall between places. [A list of statistics can be meaningless, even to adults. But with such differing climates as ours and the personal comments of a child who lives there, we can begin to appreciate the differences]
d. Become aware of how places fit into a wider geographical context. [What do we understand about a name on a map? Surely we need to try and understand that it is about people and families and their beliefs]

Geographical Skills

2. In investigating places and themes, pupils should be given opportunities to:
a. observe and ask questions. [The link provides the perfect opportunity for this.]
3. Pupils should be taught to:
a. use appropriate geographical vocabulary, e.g. temperature.
b. make plans and maps at a variety of scales.
c. use and interpret globes and maps
d. use secondary sources of evidence — pictures, photographs.
e. use IT to gain access to additional information sources and to assist in handling, classifying and presenting. [All of the above are covered as part of the project and the use of the computers in school meets the IT requirements]

Places

4. Three localities should be studied.
5. In these studies pupils should be taught:
a. about the main physical and human features.
b. how the localities may be similar and how they may differ.
c. how the features of the localities influence the nature and location of human activities within them.
d. how the localities are set within a broader geographical context. [The above points may sound complicated, but the very simple questions that a child asks will provide all the information that they require, at a level they understand]

Weather

6. In studying how weather varies between places and over time, pupils should be taught:
a. about weather conditions in different parts of the world, e.g. temperatures, rainfall and sunshine conditions in the localities studied, extremes of weather in other parts of the world. [The complete difference in our climates will provide the perfect study, guaranteed to fascinate the children. For example: When we talk about a hot day, what exactly do we mean?]

Settlement

7. In studying how settlements differ and change, pupils should be taught:
a. that settlements, e.g. villages, towns, cities, vary in size. [They also understand that it is about real people and are able to exchange information about a settlement that they can relate to personally]

Environmental Change

8. In investigating how environments change, pupils should be taught:
a. how people affect the environment. [The provision of water within Saudi Arabia is the perfect example of this]


mOre More info about Education in Saudi Arabia:

www.saudiembassy.net/Country/Education/Edu.asp


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