We had been preparing for this day for a few weeks. We had visitors from Zambia. We have links with a school over there, as part of raising global awareness within our school. We already have at least sixteen different language at our school and our kids are no strangers to visitors.
We had instructions, for staff and for children. Staff were to make sure rooms and areas were tidy and children were to make sure they had an interesting question ready to ask.
“Do you have to step over snakes when you walk to school?”
“Do you have computers at your school?”
“Do you have whiteboards in your classroom?”
“Do you have children like us at your school?”
I sidestepped the questions about how many toilets they had, whether they had toilet paper and if they were allowed to go to the toilet in lesson time (obsessed?!) and we practised the sensible ones. We were ready, prepared and in the middle of a really topical lesson for Earth Hour, linked to our poetry unit and packed full of vibrant global awareness. We had tidied.
The visitors never came to our classroom. I admit to feeling a little relieved. I wasn’t sure a Friday afternoon was the right time for my children to impress a bunch of important overseas guests. They’re quite excitable and Friday afternoon recorders ALWAYS sends them over the edge and leaves me with a headache (squeaky recorder, anyone?).
SO our guests appeared in celebration assembly, watched a questionable dance by some year six girls and received some Bolton Wanderers merchandise and some flowers and then they were asked to say a few words.
Now, its not the first time I have almost cried in assembly. The leavers do always gets me and the nursery/ reception nativitiy is another tear jerker. But this time it was adults bringing a tear to my eye. Out guests stood there and told us that they were overwhelmed after visiting six schools in England this week. They started their journey with an idea in their heads of what life was like in the UK. Then they saw it.
They saw a child in a wheelchair, who would’ve been left at home to miss out on education if they had been born in Zambia. They have seen schools with a sea of different faces- all colours, all faiths and all cultures. They told us they have opened their eyes to a world they never knew could be. They told our children of the wars they have grown up with, how adults have held grudges and have destroyed homes, lives and opportunities. They told us to keep up the good work and to keep on working together.
Today I feel so proud. Not just of the kids who, lets face it, did prepare some great questions and were SO excited to say hello. But of us in general. Our inclusion. Our education system. We complain about it. Its never good enough. But its there. Its there for each and every child and its given our guests something valuable to take home with them. So, in answer to one of my kids’ questions: no, they don’t have children like you at their school.