Young artists in Newcastle have been forging bonds with children in Germany to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1948 twinning of the two cities. English Martyrs’ Catholic Primary School in Fenham has formed a partnership with Rainbow School in Gelsenkirchen, with Year 5 children from the two schools creating commemorative pieces of art which they will exchange.
“Having worked on successful Erasmus and Comenius projects at previous schools, establishing great links with schools all over Europe, I began to explore the opportunities for similar projects here at English Martyrs’,” explained Deputy Headteacher Anthony Kennedy. “Due to Brexit, things are not quite as straightforward, but with support from Sarah Edgar and Declan Baharini at the local authority, we were able to make a link with our partner school – Rainbow School is a similar-sized school with a diverse community, like us.”
In another link between the twinned cities, the creative process at English Martyrs’ is being overseen by Robin Reza, a Newcastle-based visual artist who lived in Gelsenkirchen until the age of 13.
The artwork from the children at English Martyrs’, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, will combine their 60 individual drawings into one colourful and eye-catching piece, featuring Newcastle landmarks alongside images and words of welcome. When complete, the piece of art will be exchanged for the equivalent created by the Rainbow School pupils, with each school displaying the other’s work.
“Peace, love and unity is the message, and the aim is to bring life to a space, making links between both cities,” said Mr Kennedy.
To provide inspiration for the project, Mr Kennedy arranged a virtual meeting between the children at the partner schools, where 60 Year 5 pupils at English Martyrs’ enjoyed a video conference with their counterparts in Germany.
“Myself and Melanie Zimmerman at Rainbow School wanted the children to meet before the end of the school year,” continued Mr Kennedy. “We had 30 to 40 minutes to introduce the children, talk about their schools and interests, and spark enthusiasm for the project. The German children learn English and were able to speak English to our pupils. Our pupils currently do not learn German, but, through this project, we hope to source further resources to be able to teach some German.”
“Links like this open up children’s eyes to the wider world,” he added. “Being involved in a project like this can spark a love for languages, travel, and an importance of embracing cultures around the world. As a school community, we will share and celebrate our own school and local area, but we will also gain an insight into the lives of our new friends in Gelsenkirchen, which can only enrich and enhance our learning opportunities.”
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