The following article comes from Martin Ridley, International Coordinator at St Peter’s Catholic School Bournemouth.

At St Peter’s School here in Bournemouth, it’s always busy and there are a lot of children to teach. But that’s probably just describing being a teacher generally and the nice thing about working here is the positivity, diversity of things going on and the great support that teacher projects get. So when we were visited by Jon Bates, a Governor at Shea O’Connor Combined School (our main partner school) in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and he explained how the new challenges of electrical outages were affecting students, our headteacher Ben Doyle was keen to develop this into things our students could learn from. As a result, 240 students in Year 9 at St Peter’s School learnt all about solar panels, what the energy costs so we can run our school and what things the school currently does that contribute to a sustainable energy policy. Students at Shea in South Africa made two short films and wrote about their experiences of the power outages and how this has affected their education and St Peter’s students completed a decision-making exercise in order to decide what schools should do to be more sustainable. This was an exciting project as we hope to help Shea to acquire and install enough solar panels to run the school, as such fundraising forms an important part of our Catholic ethos where we believe in helping others who are not as fortunate as ourselves.

This year we have also swapped letters (via email) with nearly 100 students at Shea and look forward to our next teacher visit: at the end of November myself and Katy Stanisstreet will visit for a week and develop our partnership and collaborative projects further. As Katy teaches Drama we have also kept up our regular drama collaborations and plan to put on a huge, partner school-related evening show in Nov / Dec time. Katy is also a big part of our annual Partner School Week, where we spotlight our work and raise money: this year the Week coincides with our trip, so we’ll be doing live assemblies from South Africa and more. Our partnership really does get better and better and I’m very grateful to the amazing support from our headteacher and other colleagues, both at St Peter’s and Shea O’Connor Combined School as we’re making a wonderful difference.

Our partnership really does get better and better and I’m very grateful to the amazing support from our headteacher and other colleagues

Further to our work with Shea, a Year 10 GCSE Citizenship class took a lesson to learn about the precarious peace that Taiwan has and the rattling of swords that comes from China. This connects with the UN’s worldwide peace-keeping programmes and GCSE Citizenship students must learn about the work of the UN, so students read postcards that were sent to us from WeiShu Chang of National Yuanlin Senior High School, Yuanlin City, Taiwan and wrote replies. We posted them off and hope that Taiwanese students get time to write back; students learnt an awful lot with this project.

Finally, Julius from Kigezi Community School in southwestern Uganda contacted me through the Global School Alliance’s portal and we’ve exchanged many messages and photos. Nancy Nicholls, the Head of English here, is passionate about helping students and together we will see if we can develop a new partnership with Kigezi in the new academic year. Ideas so far include a book about each school (written by students), a virtual tour of each school or a ‘school in a box’ that we can send each other.

So all in all, I think we’re doing exciting things with the time and resources we have. As busy as life is, there’s always time for opening up to our international connections and one of our main aims for the next two years is to run an international trip for students. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing what we can do.


Martin Ridley

International Coordinator and Head of Citizenship at St Peter’s Catholic School

Graduated in 1995, taught English as a Foreign Language in Poland 1995-1997, then two years’ teaching in an English boarding school, three years teaching geography in East Anglia and St Peter’s School since 2004. That’s a lot of biscuits and tea…

I’ve been a Head of Department since 2010 and developed our main school partnership with Shea O’Connor Combined School in South Africa since 2009 (including student and staff trips to Shea, many collaborative projects and lots of fund-raising). Had a paper published by the University of Ruse almost by accident and enjoyed working with a huge variety of global colleagues.