Building of African Keyhole Garden begins

After many delays, we finally began construction of our African Keyhole garden today. The Liss design is not quite the same as the circular gardens that you see on the internet, but has been configured to match the available space in our school grounds.

Year 3 children from Ash and Oak classes came and worked with Mr Stanley and Mr Haycock to dig out a trench to lay our bricks. This involved moving lots of earth around with trowels and spades. When this was done, The children worked with Mr Stanley to fetch bricks and bring them to the site of the garden where Mr Haycock arranged them into courses at a 45o angle.

By the end of the morning, 60% of the work had been completed. Next week we hope to lay the remaining courses, fit a willow cylinder to house compost which will spread nutrients in the soil and add more earth to the garden so it is ready to be planted in the spring months.

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East Hants Cop 26 Conference

On Friday, the Liss Federation was represented at the East Hants COP 26 conference in Alton by Mr Stanley, Sophie and Lola. Liss were among many exhibitors at the conference which was open to the general public.

Sophie and Lola talked about all the positive changes that have happened at the school over the last ten years in the fight against climate change as well as the work the school has done overseas with Kafuro Primary School due to our association with the Queen Elizabeth Parks Project and the British Council

The pupils were visited by many different people including Damian Hinds MP. They soon had all sorts of people signing climate change pledges which we will be displaying in school. They were also interviewed for BBC Radio Solent.

There was also an opportunity to visit the main conference room and see some of the speeches as well as some of the other exhibitors. The girls were fascinated by a company called iRED who had a thermal gun. The exhibitors showed them some neat tricks with it.

Everyone had a fantastic afternoon and the girls were an absolute credit to the school.

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Liss Federation renews International Schools Award Accreditation

Late last week, Mr Stanley received an email from the British Council with the good news that the work we have carried out over the last three years has resulted in the Federation being awarded full International Schools Accreditation for the next three years. The assessor’s comments are published in full below:

“This is a strong application from The Federation of Liss Schools and meets the standard for International School Award Reaccreditation in 2021. You have provided evidence of the minimum of four eligible activities which have taken place between September 2019 and July 2021. Two of these activities are collaborative with your overseas partner school in Uganda and one activity has a foreign language element. Pupils in all year groups have been involved. Well done! And especial congratulations on sustaining the Kafuro link for over a decade. You are almost certainly correct with your prediction “that the type of visits we are used to taking part in are not going to be possible again for some time, but we feel happy that we have a robust communication network.” And your submission confirms this. The Keyhole gardens will provide a regular point of common interest. Throughout the Impact Evaluation your resilience in the difficult and on-going period of the pandemic is demonstrated. It is in fact one of the most informative and lively reports this assessor has seen because you have illustrated the Action Plan and the breadth of the activities with some wonderful comments from the participants. Quoting from the application, “when the children found out how little banana growers were paid for their product compared to the retailer there was almost open rebellion in the class. Their views on taxation & Fairtrade changed dramatically over the six lessons.” One parent observed that “my daughter has ‘advised’ me that I should not be buying food with palm oil from unsustainable sources and now refuses to eat certain brands of chocolate spread!” There are good links with other schools and the International School Award of 2018 is mentioned on your website, although you could perhaps feature the outstanding Kafuro partnership more strongly. Moving forward the assessor is pleased to see that you are now entering into a partnership with Maria Mather School in Roquefort Les Pins, France and also that you are acknowledging “that where we have taught the SDGs implicitly in the past, we now need to teach them explicitly particularly as the world emerges from the Covid pandemic.” This is a very honest reality check of what all schools need to be doing. Overall, this is excellent.”

Many thanks to all the children, staff and parents who worked so hard to support our application. There will be an award ceremony later this year.

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Great news from Kafuro

Congratulations to everyone in P7 at Kafuro Primary School who took their PLE (Primary Leaving Examinations) at the beginning of the summer. Mr Thembo contacted me to say that there was a 100% pass rate this year. Despite the challenges of lockdown due to Covid, when the P7 pupils were able to return to school, they were able to access small focused group teaching as they were the only year group allowed back into the school at the time. Congratulations to all of the pupils and to the staff.

Results from Kafuro

Unfortunately, all schools in Uganda are still closed at the moment due to lockdown. The news I have been given suggests that schools will not reopen until such a time as all teachers are fully vaccinated. The UK is doing its bit to help with this.

Mr Thembo has sent photos of a very quiet school campus

We will keep readers up to date with news from Kafuro over the coming weeks.

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Young Carers work at Liss

The final unit of the Connecting Classrooms work was carried out at Liss just before we finished for the end of the academic year. Our theme was young carers and we started off by examining who the people who care for us are and what they do.

We drew a heart shape and inside we wrote down all the people who care for us and outside the types of thngs they did.

After this, we discussed what the definition of a young carer might be before unveiling the following definition:

You’re a young carer if you’re under 18 and help to look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem. If you’re a young carer, you probably look after one of your parents or care for a brother or sister.

Our next step was to play a game of charades where the children mimed some household tasks and we had to say whether they were a job for a parent, a child or should be shared.

After this we considered how the jobs might change if a parent became seriously ill

This is the list we came up with:

We then considered how much free time they nmight have when they go to secondary school in September. Most of the class came to the conclusion that it would be around two hours. When asked to consider how they might fit in all the jobs that needed doing, the children became quite agitated. There wasn’t enough time to do all the chores.

At this point the children compared their lives with pupils in Kafuro who alreday do far more jobs around the house and in the fields. We tried to imagine what it would be like if the pupils lived in Uganda and had to look after a parent as well. It was then that the children really realised how lucky they are to have the free time that they do and understood what amazing work young carers do both in the UK and Uganda.

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Summarising our learning from the Fairtrade unit

This week, pupils from Liss had their final lesson on Fairtrade. We looked to summarise our learning over the unit, therefore the pupils carried out the same activity as the first lesson of putting beans in pots according to what they thought causes poverty. The children were given 3 beans each and were asked to investigate nine statements. When they found a statement that they felt was most accurate they could place one of their beans in a cup next to the statement. If they wished, they could place all their beans in a particular cup. 

The results were as follows:

A quick analysis of the results shows that the children’s thinking had changed dramatically over the course of the unit. There was a strong recognition that while climate change and war were causes of poverty, international trade was a massive factor in ensuring that people stayed in poverty, and that people in richer countries help ensure this is the case by wanting to pay less for goods from poorer countries. The pupils were also angered by the fact that many big companies avoid paying tax to countries in the developing world. They saw this as fundamentally unfair.

Over the course of the unit, the teachers at Liss were really pleased at how our pupils developed their understanding of Fairtrade and how important it is to people living in the developing world. Ultimately, it is down to us to ensure that we buy Fairtrade products when we have a choice. We can choose to be part of the problem or do something about it.

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Continuing our look at Fairtrade chocolate

To begin today’s lesson, Mr Stanley drew two chocolate bars on the whiteboard and asked the class to deliberate on what factors would lead to them buying one bar or the other. The children came up with the following considerations:

  • Taste/texture
  • Price
  • Size
  • Special offers/promotions
  • Fairtrade mark
  • Advertising
  • Brand
  • Type (dark, milk or white)
  • Quality
  • Condition

We then looked at what the Fairtrade mark actually means and identified the four key components of this:

  • It means farmers and workers get better wages and working conditions
  • It guarantees a fair price for the producers
  • It provides extra money to go to the community
  • Allows small farmers to join together in cooperatives to sell their products.

We discussed how community money might be used to improve sanitation, provide teachers for a school,improve medical care or to build housing. Next, we looked closely at the different stages of the journey from producer to consumer and arranged them in the correct order.

  1. After he has scraped the cocoa beans out of the cocoa pod, the farmer leaves them to dry.
  2. The dried cocoa beans are weighed.
  3. The sacks of cocoa beans are loaded onto a ship, ready to be brought from Africa to Europe
  4. The cocoa beans are ground. Milk and sugar are added to make chocolate – yummy!
  5. Chocolate bars are formed, wrapped and packed. Then they are delivered to the shops.

Mr Stanley then outlined one final task before we evaluate the learning unit. The children have been set the task of writing to Tesco persuading them to stock a new Ugandan Fairtrade product – Crested Crane Chocolate. They have also been asked to design the chocolate bar and a new Fairtrade Mark. The results of this will be seen in the next blog post.

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Food Webs

One of the topics we are covering as part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms program is food webs which was suggested by Mr Thembo, the headteacher of Kafuro Primary School.

Steve Peach very kindly produced a PowerPoint which took the children through the differences between food chains and food webs. Mr Stanley was very impressed with the children’s knowledge of food chains and the terms producer, consumer and predator. Only one pupil in the class had a good idea about what a food web is, so Mr Stanley was able to use the PowerPoint (displayed below) to show some examples of food webs in both UK and Uganda.

Once the children had got used to the idea of what a food web meant, we created our own using animals commonly found in the UK

We then went onto the playground with a big ball of string in order to try and replicate this food web. The photos below make it look as if we were actually quite successful. However, the complexity of the food web meant that we actually ran out of string before we could complete it.

Our final discussion of the session was based around what might happen to the food web if one of the elements was removed from it. We discussed several possibilities, but the children concluded that if the frog was removed from our food web then much of the web could collapse. Clearly removing land plants or water plants would have a massive effect on the ecosystem. When you think about the damage this would cause and then compare it to vast deforestation taking place on our planet, it makes you wonder whether humans are actually very clever at all!

We are looking forward to seeing what food webs other schools in the twinning project produce.

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Fairtrade and chocolate

For our third session on fair trade at Liss Junior School, we focused on chocolate. Two thirds of cocoa produced worldwide is estimated to be grown by smallholders. West African economies are critically dependent on cocoa. For example, revenue from cocoa accounts for more than one third of Ghana’s total export earnings, and 40% of those of Cote d’Ivoire, the
world’s largest cocoa producer. The instability of the world cocoa market, with its huge fluctuations in prices, means cocoa farmers are in a precarious situation – most struggle to make a living.

In Britain we eat more chocolate per capita than any other country, each consuming around 9.5kg per year (and these figures are from before the Covid pandemic when chocolate consumption rocketed).

As a class we approached the topic by taking part in a survey all about chocolate. The class were first asked if they liked chocolate. 26 out of 27 (96%) said YES. Next, they were asked what their favourite chocolate was. As you can imagine, there was a wide range of answers from the classic galaxy bars all the way up to posher Lindt (just for information, Mr Stanley favourite is the Kit Kat chunky – which was fairtrade as of last year). they were then asked to explain what attracted them to certain types of chocolate bars. The children were very honest and many of them said that advertising played a major part – it just goes to show how much of an influence advertising has on children.

The children were then asked a question. For every 100 chocolate bars in the UK, how many are eaten by men, women and children. This promoted a fascinating discussion. Most of the children thought that children ate the majority, men the second biggest amount and women the least. There was one exception in the class (who shall remain nameless) who thought that his mum ate more chocolate than the rest of his family put together.

The children were surprised by the results. Out of every 100 chocolate bars:

Men ate 26

Children ate 34

Women ate 40

So our nameless pupil was the closest to being correct. We then looked at how much money went to various people in the production chain of chocolate. So for every £1 bar of chocolate:

7p goes to the cocoa farmer

40p goes to the chocolate company

28p goes to the retailer

15p is taxed.

Once the children heard these figures they were outraged and questioned the fairness of this, There then followed a discussion about how many times we have all bought chocolate that is not fair trade rather than fairtrade chocolate because the non fair trade chocolate is cheaper.

Next week, we are going to look more closely at how fairtrade helps chocolate growers and what we can do to support them

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Fairtrade: Session 2

Following on from last week’s fair trade lesson, Rowan class started off with a quick recap of the previous week’s learning, in particular a renewed discussion over how much people should be paid for the process of growing and selling bananas. The children decided to write their thoughts. Here are three of the children’s arguments:

After the children had completed their writing, we repeated the previous exercise when the children had to sell their bananas to Mr Stanley in his role as representative of the Big Banana Company. However, this time some of the children were given fair trade tokens. When Mr Stanley came to buy their bananas he gave each of these pupils 8 tokens instead of the two which he gave to the rest of the class.

This then led to a discussion on what Fairtrade means to the growers and the children completed an exercise on the difference between a banana and a fair trade banana.

The children came to the following results:

For a fairtrade banana

  • My workers have better homes and better education
  • My farmer has a guaranteed contract
  • My workers spent many hours looking after me
  • My workers are members of a co-op. They can make their own decisions.
  • My farmer doesn’t use dangerous chemicals on the banana plants.

For a non fairtrade banana

  • My workers have poor housing, poor education and poor health
  • My workers have no union and no say in how their lives go
  • My workers had to work 12 hours a day, six days a week
  • My workers could lose their jobs anytime
  • My workers used dangerous chemicals to kill any pest which might damage the banana plants.

We finished the session by discussing what fairtrade means and came to the conclusion that fair trade allows the farmers and growers to obtain a fair price for the work they carry out in producing many of our staple foods. It also stops big companies driving down prices at the expense of the growers just so we can have cheap food

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