Chris Parker

Schools Team Manager

Following an inspiring ‘Diversity Week’, Year 7 students from Westfield Academy have been busy raising funds to sponsor an 8-year-old girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A group of them got together to talk about the experience so far:

Westfield Academy pupils who are sponsoring a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Learning about the Democratic Republic of Congo

“I’d heard of the Democratic Republic of Congo before, but really I had no idea what was going on there until we started sponsoring Sifa,” Nick explains.

“There are no educational opportunities,” Olivia continues. “And they struggle to get enough food and water.”

Most of the students were unaware of the desperate political situation too: “It must be horrible to grow up in a place with war all around you and guns firing randomly,” Oliver says.

A chance to help children around the world

Westfield Academy pupils holding a photo of Sifa, the child they sponsor in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The students are proud to be sponsoring a child in DRC and it has given them a real insight into the lives of children less fortunate than themselves.

“We take school for granted,” Caitlin says. “But there it is a privilege. They have to pay to go to school and then when they are old enough to work, they have to leave.”

Jess compares Sifa’s experiences to life in England: “Here, you see 3-year-old children walking around with iPads. In the DRC everything is so different, the economy is different. It’s like a different world.”

Olivia explains why she thinks child sponsorship is a good thing: “It’s fun for us to be involved and we have learnt about another country. But also, it’s good to do something for someone less fortunate, to help give them more opportunities in their life.”

Sharing lives and making a new friend

The students have been writing to Sifa and including examples of their work, photos and pictures they have drawn. Now they’re planning what they would like to do next, including raising additional funds to pay for Sifa’s sponsorship in years to come and possibly to pay for sponsorship of more children in other countries as well.

They’re keen to encourage other schools to sponsor a child. “I’m really glad that I am part of this. It would be amazing if other schools could join in too, so that we can give more opportunities to more children,” Nick says.

Lucy McDonnell

Education Project Officer

How do you tackle those hard to teach subjects? Do you shy away from debate, or do you dive straight in? Whatever your approach, and whatever your style of teaching, we can support you. Our latest resources will enable you to explore some sensitive issues surrounding the abduction of over 300 school girls from the Chibok region of north east Nigeria.

Rhoda, from the Chibok community, Nigeria

We have something in common

We both recognise the importance of knowing your audience and helping them to develop their own ideas. Teaching isn’t about telling your pupils what to think, right? Much like you, we don’t believe in imposing solutions on the people we work with.

Our human rights based approach means that we listen to and work with people living in poverty, helping them to overcome poverty, and come up with their own answers.

#BringBackOurGirls: education and abduction in Nigeria

Today marks six months since the abduction of over 300 school girls from their boarding school in north east Nigeria. To mark this date and to remind pupils about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, we have produced a series of resources exploring girl’s education in Nigeria and the effects that the abductions have had on the Chibok community.

We’ll help you tell the inside story

When it comes to knowing your subject and understanding your pupils, you’re the expert; we can provide you with the real life stories to bring learning and global issues to life.

Our resources help facilitate balanced and reasoned arguments by presenting pupils with films, facts and the stories of children and young people. Through the eyes of these young people, your pupils will start to understand about some of the complex issues and barriers to education in Nigeria.

Download our KS1-KS4 resources

Our resources are all available to download for free.

  • Our KS3/4 resources use short film clips, stories and media coverage to explore the Chibok abductions and the media’s response. 
  • For KS1/2 pupils we've produced a number of interactive activities focusing on a day in the life of two Nigerian girls; Precious who goes to school, and Sefiyat who misses out. 

Does education really save lives?

Chris Parker

Schools Team Manager

Are your pupils asking tricky questions about the turbulence in countries around the world? As always ActionAid are here to help with blogs and reports from countries affected, and new teaching resources and workshops packed with the real people and real stories you need to bring global learning into your classroom. 

Sarbari Kireu Classh aged 13 and friends, Nkoben Primary School, Narok, Kenya

In many regions of the world it has been a turbulent summer. The spread of the deadly virus Ebola across West Africa; violence in Gaza; continued fighting in Syria with now over 3 million people displaced – at times it's easy to feel powerless and despairing.

Children returning to school may have questions; some may even have families, relatives or friends that have been directly affected. If you are attempting to answer some tricky questions our blogs offer a helpful starting point with the key information and reports from ActionAid workers in the field.

In the case of Ebola, we are on the ground in Sierra Leone, going house to house helping people understand what they can do to protect themselves and their families. We’re explaining what to do if people show symptoms, and making sure they know where to go for help. There’s no doubt that in this situation education is saving lives.

Bringing online resources into your classroom

The ActionAid Schools team play our own part in using education to work towards saving lives. We support you in bringing global learning into the classroom with resources that help children understand the complex issues in the world around them. In doing so, we hopefully answer some of the difficult questions, but also inspire pupils that they have the power to enact real change and save lives.

Our innovative resources have always played a key part in this process, and we’ve been working really hard on new search-friendly webpages that make it even easier to find and utilise them. I’m really proud of what the team have achieved and I hope you find them useful. As always, we’d love to hear what you think.

New Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum linked resources

The ActionAid Schools team has been busy scribbling! With the introduction of the new national curriculum in September, we’ve created a fantastic set of Key Stage 1 and 2 Brazil resources to tick the South America boxes. Explore the lives of people in Rio de Janeiro or journey into the depths of the Amazon – I think it is safe to say this will be the most diverse set of free resources we have ever produced.

Sign-up for a new hands-on workshop

We’ve also crafted two new workshops. Complementing our Brazil resources, why not journey with your pupils to Rio de Janeiro or the Amazon rainforest and attempt to return ‘The Lost Suitcase’, or spend ‘A Day in the Life’ of 10-year-old Sidra making bricks in Pakistan. Find out about booking an ActionAid Schools workshop.

Finally, I continue to believe in my team providing free teaching resources, but if you value our materials and the real stories that bring so much life to our resources and workshops, we wanted to offer you the chance to donate whatever you can to our work in places like Brazil and Sierra Leone. It’s a simple click to donate once you have downloaded, and your money will ensure education has other opportunities to save lives.

Photo: Piers Benatar/Panos Pictures/ActionAid.

School’s (almost) out for summer

Lucy McDonnell

Education Project Officer

Kyaw Min Htun (9) [front left] running across the school compound in Su Yet San village, Myanmar

From all of us here in the ActionAid schools team we’d like to thank you for your support this term, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed using our resources. We’re looking forward to the forthcoming academic year and engaging in some great global learning with you.

In the meantime, we’ll be posting some exciting teaching ideas, activities and assessment strategies on our blog and via @ActionAidTeach over the summer.

One last thing, if you haven’t already registered your interest in our new curriculum linked workshops, please do!

Have a lovely summer break.
Lucy & the Schools team

>> Register your interest in our new KS1 & KS2 Brazil workshops

Brazil, KS1, KS2, schools

Lucy McDonnell

Education Project Officer

Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of child sponsorship in your school, and how to inspire your pupils to get fundraising! 

On the way to collect children’s messages in Sirajgong, Bangladesh

1. Explore the world

Child sponsorship is a great way to get your pupils excited about a different country. Make the most of it by setting homework and classroom challenges to explore your sponsored child’s country, and the region in which they live. What foods might they eat? What games do they play? What’s the weather like? What do you have in common?

2. Get creative

One tutor group at Headlands school in Yorkshire made their own child sponsorship video using only a mobile phone. The girls’ aim was to publicize their child sponsorship and raise even more money.

You could also use your creativity to make a message for your sponsored child; why not create a poster or a piece of art that they can share with their class.

3. Fun fundraising

There are plenty of activities that your whole school can enjoy taking part in, and pupils will learn lots of new skills by hosting their own event and working together.

Download our fundraising ideas poster to get you started

4. Encourage and incentivise

At Headlands school each house sponsors a different child. Tutor groups are awarded one house point for every pound raised towards their sponsored child. This helps to integrate child sponsorship into the school, and incentivises the pupils fundraising.

5. Shout about it

Write a feature for your school’s newspaper about your sponsored child, or write an article about your school’s fundraising in your local press. This will help to make your pupils proud of their hard work, and encourage your community to support their efforts.

Download our guide to getting into your local press

A special thanks to Headlands school in Yorkshire for sharing their ideas with us.

Lucy McDonnell

Education Project Officer

Pupils tending to plants in their school's food garden

Among many rural communities in South Africa, agricultural development is facing a growing problem. Food production is dominated by the older generation, with few young people seeing agriculture as an attractive industry to join.

To try and tackle this problem, ActionAid and its partners have designed and implemented a series of food gardens within schools. The gardens help to develop children’s interest in agriculture at an early stage, and are used in practical environmental and science classes. Classes also help to demonstrate the importance of local food production.

In addition they provide vegetables for school feeding schemes; generate income for the school; and provide vegetables to local orphans and the elderly.

This project has seen an increased interest in farming by the children and has also seen a reduction in malnutrition among children, orphans and the elderly.

This is just one example of the way in which child sponsorship funds help to support our work.

>> To find out more, and to see how your school can help, visit our schools child sponsorship pages