Author: Julie D’eathe, Shetland Council
With the advent of 2020 looming large and the real possibility of funding for 1+2 coming to an end, staff in Shetland have been looking for ways to engender sustainability in our schools. Initially contacted by Thomas Chaurin, we decided as an authority to link with a region in France and we were allocated Nice and Cannes. With the help of Richard Tallaron of LFEE and my colleague, Lewie Peterson, Global Citizenship Development Officer for Shetland Islands Council, we were successful in applying for Erasmus+ funding and embarked on an adventure together to bring our exciting project to fruition.
In the October holidays, imagine the dismay of our 10 teachers travelling from a wet and highly windy Shetland to a sunny Cannes! We arrived to an extremely warm welcome both from the climate and, more importantly, from our French hosts. Colleagues from both countries spent the week working together on projects to upskill both teachers and learners in linguistic competence. It was also an invaluable opportunity to experience life and pedagogy in a different education system. The exchange of ideas and the exploration of effective strategies to ensure an enduring, valuable and authentic project to engage pupils became the guiding principle of the visits.
As well as visiting schools, we were treated to a variety of cultural activities in and around Cannes, from visiting the beautiful île Sainte Marguerite, the Palais des festivals and the Fort Royal, to playing pétanque and sampling the cuisine of the region. We were also invited to the Mairie for a wonderful reception. We had a fabulous time and really appreciated the time and effort of our French hosts.
The week immediately after the October holidays, our French colleagues came to Shetland to visit their partners in their school settings. French colleagues had the opportunity to not only work on progressing the projects they had started in France but also to see a variety of different and unique settings which are very particular to small rural communities and islands. The connections and relationships begun in France were further enhanced by the ability to recognise and experience how the different partners worked, as well as meeting and working with the pupils.
The week finished with our French visitors touring the Shetland mainland to see the flora, fauna and archaeological sights that attract so many tourists.
As for next steps, the projects are being worked on and developed right now through our partnerships and classes! We are hoping that from this small beginning wonderful things will grow, rolling out across Shetland to provide the sustainable, authentic experiences we will need to ensure that 1+2 becomes embedded in education in Shetland.