Canvey Island Welcomes Aachen Students

PUPILS from Geschwister Scholl Guymnasium, Aachen, have just returned to Germany from their week long annual visit to Canvey Island, which included a basic programme of school and social visits.

Kai Lehnigher, a teacher accompanying the students, said that this was his tenth year of visiting, and the children had had as much enjoyment this year as in the past.

Aachen students at the island's Transport Museum

The programme began last Monday with a visit to the Castle Point Transport museum in Point Road where both the mayor (Councillor Cliff Brunt) and representatives from the museum met the children and took them for a tour of the island on the open deck bus.

Tuesday saw them in Castle View School where they were welcomed by the new head teacher (Ms. Gill Thomas) and spent the day split into various class group lessons.

On Wednesday, the party, including Furtherwick teachers and students, went to London for sight seeing. They visited Tower Bridge, which opened to allow a sailing barge through; The Tower itself; the Monument; the Palace of Westminster; St. James Park; Buckingham Palace; Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

Thursday saw Furtherwick Park pupils writing-up their London visit and presenting it in English – as well as performing some amusing tasks with newspapers (dressing up as super heros!). This was followed by a BBQ at the school, with visiting teachers from Winter Gardens Primary School, St Katherine’s Church of England School and Castle View School.

St Katherine's Gemma Doo in class with students

On Friday morning, the group visited St. Katherine’s where Ms Gemma Doo and Mrs D. Bryant are establishing German lessons; and Winter Gardens, where they were welcomed by Stephen Harris, the head teacher, and took part in classroom art activity organised by Miss Esther Brand.

The whole group met up for school lunch at Winter Gardens Primary School before departure.

Ms Gill Thomas said how she intended to establish new links with European schools, as well as continuing this long established link with GSG Aachen, when the Furtherwick and Castle View Schools merge in 2011.

The Island School Consortium, consisting of the island’s eight primary schools, is supported by Ms Gemma Doo, of St Katherine’s, and Heather Manning, of Winter Gardens Primary School – whom are currently planning a Bastille Day for 14th July.

Catch-Up With Project Gaia

CANVEY ISLANDERS WHO WERE UNABLE TO ATTEND THE FINAL PRESENTATION OF PROJECT GAIA, held at the Furtherwick Park School on Wednesday, can now view the unedited videos on the project’s working Website.

For the benefit of non-Italian speakers, the following links are filtered through Yahoo’s BabelFish translation service (which still requires some improvement).

Readers can browse the project site as they normally would, without having the translation interrupted.

Click here for the warts-and-all versions of the hastily composed Furtherwick Park presentations.

Click here for the edited contributions from the project’s Dutch participants.

Notes on the visitors’ itinerary, including their interrogation of Castle Point’s MP, Bob Spink, can be downloaded (in Word .doc format) from this link: Visit notes.

With so much negative press about MPs at the moment, it is nice to be able to report something positive. As is so often the case with our Castle Point MP, Bob reorganized his day at the drop of a hat to accommodate the visiting students and give them the benefit of his extensive knowledge on environmental matters. (This on the same day as the Speaker announced his resignation and the press pack was clamoring for interviews.)

Plucky Students Prepare To Criticize The Establishment

GaiaMOTHER OF URANUS, Oceanus, Coeus, Crius and Hyperion, Gaia (the primal Greek goddess personifying the Earth) adopted Lovelock’s mantle on Wednesday as students, representing four countries, called upon their schools to embrace new sustainable technologies for the benefit of the planet.

The appeal was made by five groups of passionate 16/17 year-old students, at Canvey Island’s Furtherwick Park School, which was hosting the final presentation of Project Gaia, a three year investigation into renewable energies and environmental impact funded by the European Commission as part of its Comenius Lifelong Learning Programme.

I am not drunkWhat began as a cool opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex; travel to different countries; and experience different cultures, had soon revealed itself to be nothing more than an elaborately contrived way for the establishment to make the students work for the rewards on offer. So it is perhaps understandable that one of the visiting dudes should force the audience to recognize his own sobriety in the face of such wicked intentions.

Project Gaia turned-out to be one of the longest and hardest projects that any of the students had undertaken. Confronted with a mass of scientific data; statistics and opinion from both sides of the environmental debate, they soon found that reaching definitive conclusions would not be easy. Defining the problem, when so much scientific evidence supports the fact that mankind’s actions are placing the planet in jeopardy, was fairly easy; but deciding how to redress the situation and, in particular, devising a sustainability plan for the schools in which they studied, was far harder than any had anticipated.

Five groups of students each introduced an unedited video they had made on a different aspect of the project. There had been insufficient time to produce a final, single, edited version; but the students had been unphased. Confronting their stage fright in the presence of a large audience, they mastered their fears and bravely pressed on with their introductions, leaving their videos (made in English for the benefit of their island hosts) to speak for themselves.

The presentations were impressive. The audience was left in no doubt that the presenters had risen to the challenge, and had gathered all the material necessary to provide a compelling argument for the need for all schools and colleges to stop sitting on the fence and take urgent action on introducing proven sustainable technologies in all their buildings.

With options ranging from simple timed delivery of urinal flushing systems; through building insulation and solar panels to wind turbines for electricity generation; there is now an array of options from which establishment heads can choose to lessen their environmental impact.

The argument was clearly put. All the students need to do now is produce a single, edited version of their individual presentations; document their findings and distribute the final package to head teachers throughout the EU in the hope they will heed its contents.

Canvey Island can be proud of the contribution made to this international project by its Furtherwick Park School students.

… (23/05/2009) – Catch-Up With Project Gaia

Students Under Pressure To Finalize Report

Students deliberate the Project Gaia ReportSTUDENTS FROM the Carl Zeiss Obershule, in Berlin, and the Liceo Augusto, in Rome, joined their Furtherwick Park colleagues this morning to finalize the Project Gaia Report.

Yesterday evening’s welcome barbecue, with its introduction to warm British beer and alfresco dining amid changeable British weather, was all but forgotten as the students divided into separate groups and began collaborating on the report’s production.

Their challenge is to provide conclusions on their schools’ impact on the environment, and how the situation can be improved, for a final presentation on Wednesday.

Photographs of their deliberations, as a PowerPoint slide-show, can be downloaded here: Project Gaia – the deliberations

Furtherwick Park To Host Final Report From Project Gaia

CANVEY ISLAND’S FURTHERWICK PARK SCHOOL WILL HOST THE FINAL REPORT FROM PROJECT GAIA, a European Environmental Impact Study regarding the sustainable development of schools. The project has been conducted by Furtherwick Park students in partnership with three other EU colleges.

The presentation will take place at the school at 9.00 am on Wednesday, 20th May, and will last approximately two hours. Places are limited; but anyone wishing to attend will be made welcome.

John Amos ComeniusThe project has been funded by the European Commission as part of its Lifelong Learning Programme, named Comenius after the Teacher of Nations: John Amos Comenius.

Furtherwick Park School students delivered a presentation on waste management at the Comenius Gaia Conference, in Berlin, this time last year.

Furtherwick’s partners in the enterprise have been the Carl Zeiss Obershule, in Berlin; the Sintermeerten College, in Heerlen, Holland; and the Liceo Augusto, in Rome.

Fifteen students and four teachers from partner schools will visit Canvey for three days from Sunday 17th May, led by the project’s leader: Christian Duntsch. They will collaborate with Furtherwick Park students on the Monday to finalize the report, and then take a welcome break on the Tuesday to visit Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.

A flavour of the report can best be given by a quote from the project’s Italian blog:-

‘It seems to me that we need to deal with the arguments of which we often do not know enough; a greater and real knowledge of the total truth from the economic and political point-of-view. It is this creed that is fundamental to being able to widen the discussion, and it is now time to not only confront the surveys, but to give greater space to the debates.’ — Irene Moroni.

… (18/05/2009) – Students Under Pressure To Finalize Report