Glasgow Museums delighted children from Annette Street Primary School and their families by bringing a beautiful, traditional gypsy caravan into the school playground. The youngsters were encouraged to climb aboard, explore and ask questions to celebrate the culmination of a whole school topic on Journeys and Travelling.
Govanhill has a number of Roma families and Annette Street Primary School sits within the heart of the community. Of the 210 children on its roll, 178 are from an either Romanian or Slovakian Roma background and over 80% of the pupils have English as an additional language. Teachers have adapted the curriculum to include a variety of active, outdoor experiential schooling, which has proven results in encouraging the children to take risks with language and improve their English.
For a number of years a major part of the curriculum has been a whole school shared topic, which gives the children a commonality of vocabulary and language being learned and practised. It also offers opportunities for the children to visit and explore new places, experience new things and develop an understanding of the world around them.
This year the entire school participated in a project around the theme of journeys and travelling. By sharing families' stories the whole school community has deepened their understanding of one another and where different people come from and together the children have learned about different cultures, languages and traditions. In partnership with the Open Museum the school worked to bring a gypsy caravan from its store at Glasgow Museum Resource centre into the playground for a day to support the children's learning, evoke memories for some of their families and to celebrate the learning achieved.
Shirley Taylor, Head Teacher of Annette Street Primary School, said: "Citizenship is an important part of our teaching and learning. We aim to give our children the knowledge, skills and talents they require to be responsible, caring citizens, who respect each other and positively contribute to our community.
"For the past few years a big part of our curriculum has been a whole school shared topic. This year it focused on the idea of journeys and travelling. The children have gained so much. We've learned about equality and respect, about different places and cultures and we've been able to involve our children's families in their learning. The overarching win however has been the vast improvement in our children's English language skills.
"Family learning is one of Glasgow's key priorities and we aim to provide opportunities for our families to learn together. A learning opportunity such as the gypsy caravan, and the workshops that goes alongside it, can often be out of reach for many of our families. Parents perhaps don't yet have the grasp of English and confidence required to take their children to many places around the city that other families easily access.
"Having the gypsy caravan here has been wonderful. Just look at the smiles on everyone's face. Not only does it promote a sense of worth in the culture and traditions of our Roma families and give our children a sense of their place within history, but it allows parents to see what their children have been working hard on all term, and who doesn't love an opportunity to be rightly proud of their child's achievements.
Joanne Crawford, Learning Assistant at Glasgow Museum Resource Centre added: "I can't tell you all how happy I am to bring the gypsy caravan to school. Some of the children attended a workshop at Glasgow Museum Resource Centre where the caravan usually resides. Afterwards the school made a request to borrow it. I think by bringing it into the school playground and inviting the children's families along we make it clear that as citizens of Glasgow the city's museum collection belongs to them.
"I also hope that by understanding what's to be gained by exploring our objects or simply experiencing the fun on offer at Glasgow Museums more people might come and visit one of our ten incredible venues."
Roma communities around the world are still the most persecuted and discriminated against in society today. Many parents of pupils at Annette Street School have described experiences of discrimination, exclusion and lack of opportunities in terms of educational experiences in their home countries. In coming to Glasgow these parents hope to break this cycle of deprivation and discrimination and have high hopes and aspirations for their children's future. By involving families and showing understanding and patience the school can develop a relationship of trust and respect and together assist in strengthening their child's educational attainment.
For more details on Glasgow Museum Resource Centre visit Glasgow Museums