The week before last Khady Konate and I spent a week in Nicaragua. The trip came about as result of a missionary organisation who are setting up schools in Nicaragua reading an article I had written about a year ago. Subsequently, they visited FBS and asked if we would go out to help train their teachers. So on January 12th Khady and I set off. It was a real adventure. The country is on the verge of civil war and people are advised not to travel there. Our hosts really looked after us!
We spent each morning teaching. Khady mainly teaching the teachers and me the school leaders. We covered topics such as vision, ethos and culture, Assessment for Learning, Teaching and Learning, differentiation, curriculum, enterprise, Christian ethos, House system, pastoral care, safeguarding, SEN, standards, discipline, Behaviour for Learning, target setting and tracking, self-evaluation and review and development.
During the afternoons we were shown around the country, including a fishing beach with pigs, the Masaya volcano at night, climbing the Torre de la Merced, a boat trip on the Isletas de Granda, the Apoyo Lagoon and Jinotepe. The fact that other tourists listened to the advice not to visit Nicaragua worked out quite well for us; we pretty much had the place to ourselves! We tried all kinds of food, including Japanese curry, Korean pancakes, Nicaraguan beans, Costa Rican ice cream and Kimche, and met all kinds of people: Koreans, Nicaraguans and even a Viking from Oregon called Eric! We visited a church on the Sunday morning with 3000 people and the preacher spoke for over an hour and a half! If nothing else, it changed the way Madame Konate views my speeches on Open and Awards evenings! The world really was our classroom.
As well as us teaching the Nicaraguans, we also learnt a lot. I would really love us to become less reliant on the internet and IT. Spend less time planning, risk assessing and worrying about things that are unlikely or never going to happen. Be more community focussed; really have each other’s backs. Nicaraguans actually do each other’s work! They are way more relationship orientated than task orientated. While we have to get the task done, it is something to have in our minds. It also made me more grateful and determined to find additional ways to help others less fortunate than us. Khady and I were privileged to meet the former Nicaraguan Education minister who said that in some places, 4 out of 5 schools don’t have teachers and pupils are left to just play in the yard! Funding is $89 per pupil per annum.
I came away thinking that if we really are a school built upon the Christian faith, if we really are enterprising, how can we make a difference? How can we ensure our students really are equipped to understand these challenges and take them on? How can we develop mutually beneficial relationships, such as this one, to help train teachers on the hand had whilst providing our staff with extra-ordinary learning and development opportunities on the other? I see four strands:
- The Fulham Boys School: First and foremost we look to ourselves. We continually check that we’re focussed on recruiting and retaining the best staff to ensure all our young men get the best exam results they possibly can whilst having the surest grounding to prepare them for the challenges that follow in their personal lives and in the wider world; realising their talents for the benefit of all
- FBS Services: We offer and share the things we do well with other schools, on our doorstep and beyond
- FBS Multi Academy Trust: We continue to explore opportunities to set up more schools like FBS across England and possibly Wales.
- FBS Voice: We speak up and speak out about our distinctive approach and views on education.
- FBS Duty: Using our staff to help and train teachers in other countries.
More than just a school.