Over February half term, staff from Oundle School and Peterborough’s Phoenix School for pupils with special needs visited Gilgil Special School after an Oundle pupil saw the potential benefits of an exchange trip.
Oundle School’s history teacher and coordinator of charities, Ian Clark, led the trip accompanied by head of community action, Liz Dillarstone, and Phoenix School’s Sarah Norman, Anthony Skipworth and Janice Mountford, following a suggestion from Octavia Morgan, 18, who visited Kenya on a school trip in 2012.
Miss Morgan, who had been visiting Phoenix School through her school’s community action programme, was inspired after she returned from her trip. She said: “The same year that I was lucky enough to visit Kivuli and the schools surrounding Gilgil, I began working at the Phoenix School. It was really interesting to see how similar the interaction was between the children in Kenya and the children back in England, regardless of their disabilities. I realised that not only did both our schools have resources to share with Rhoda at Kivuli, but that the teachers at Phoenix could learn a vast amount from visiting them.”
The teachers spent time with the 34 boarders at the school’s hostel, which is supported by children’s charity The Kivuli Project, before spending a further 3 days working alongside teachers and children at the school.
In advance of the trip, staff and children from Phoenix School collected football shirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and flannels for the children in Gilgil, and teachers left behind resources including story sacks.
Rhoda Otieno, the deputy head of Gigil Special School, returned with the teachers to spend time at Phoenix School and visit community initiatives including adult disability art and sport sessions with Heltwate Special Needs School in Oundle. Rhoda also visited the Mobility Aids Centre in Peterborough, who have supplied wheelchairs for the school in Gilgil.
Following her visit to England, Rhoda said: “I really appreciated my short visit to the UK. I admired the well-planned and organised work at Phoenix and learned and acquired knowledge that will help me promote the standard of our learners.”
A group of Oundle School staff and pupils will be returning to visit Gilgil Special School in October.