My first impression of the day when we were welcomed at the RUSH Academy was of feeling overwhelmed; partly from just finally being there, but also from seeing the children. As we were shown around I felt very emotional.
I was struck by the lack of resources and the number of children sitting at one desk and also by the excitement that they showed of having us there.
The second time we visited our intention was to observe but one of the teachers was ill and before I knew what was happening I was in front of a class and in charge! So, I resorted to the Hungry Caterpillar and produced a lesson lasting about 40 minutes. I’m struck by the happy calm atmosphere.
The children are very polite and respectful, standing up when an adult enters. They reply clearly and politely when asked a question. My main observations have been in the nursery classes, of which there are three – most of the time they are all together.
Teaching is done by repetition, chanting and copying with the younger children. The older children have some textbooks. I am very aware of the contrast with schools in England. Our children have so much and so much is taken for granted and wasted. These children have one pencil each which is sharpened to within an inch of its life. Posters on the wall are hand painted on sacking and there are few toys.
The children’s behaviour is extraordinary. These little children in a very confined space move around calmly to find a seat. There is no pushing or arguing, they just patiently wait for children to move out of the way.
The nursery day runs from 8am – 3pm. They have lessons until about 12.30pm when they have their lunch. Lunch is served at their tables having gone to wash their hands. After lunch they put their heads on their tables and sleep for 40 minutes. Then the teacher goes round and wakes them up and some of them take several goes as they are so soundly asleep. After a playtime and a snack that they have brought from home the buses take them home. I have had opportunities to read Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Suprise which delighted them.
I am full of admiration for the work that the teachers do and for the children. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to come. I sometimes can’t believe that I am here and that I have coped so well with the toilets and organising tasks that at home you would do without thinking such as washing. here they require effort and forethought and a headtorch!