Somerset school forges link with Iraq

18 March 2016

PRIDDY & ST LAWRENCE'S SCHOOL

Mutual benefit: Ravi Singh and Rosie Thorner with pupils and staff of Priddy and St Lawrence’s School

Mutual benefit: Ravi Singh and Rosie Thorner with pupils and staff of Priddy and St Lawrence’s School

PUPILS at a Church of England primary school in Somerset have forged a connection with their peers at a refugee camp in Iraq, thanks to a Sikh charity that helped the school’s head teacher during the floods of 2014.

Pupils at the Federation of Priddy and St Lawrence’s School have been sending letters and pictures to children preparing to attend Yazidi Refugee Camp School, and were due on Wednesday to have a conversation via Skype.

The twinning was the idea of Ravi Singh, the chairman and founder of the Sikh charity Khalsa Aid, which is building the school in northern Iraq.

The head teacher of the UK school, Rosie Thorner, said that pupils had been asked to explain to their peers, who have missed education, about school life: “We are trying to inspire the children and explain to them what being in school is about, so that they are not scared by it, but excited by it, and the power of learning.”

Pupils had been “blown away” by learning that the children they wrote to had no toys, she said, and had included in their letters explanations of “traditional English games” that could be played in the playground.

“I think, to be honest, a lot of them did not even know where Iraq was, or understood what the term ‘refugee’ meant,” she said. Despite being told not to, pupils had brought things to school to give to their peers in Iraq. They were accustomed, she said, to TV appeals asking people to give.

The connection started after Mr Singh helped Mrs Thorner during the Somerset floods in 2014. The school had been exploring “the Christian values of hope and friendship”, she said, and the project reflected these values. It had had a “huge impact” on the children.

The Federation of Priddy and St Lawrence’s School includes Priddy Primary School, in Priddy, and St Lawrence’s C of E Primary School, in Westbury-Sub-Mendip.

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