This half term the largest ever Sandringham group visited our partner school in The Gambia. Eleven students from years 11-13 together with Ms Ashley, Mr Gray and myself arrived in Banjul on Friday afternoon after a 6 hour flight. We spent the weekend at the coast getting used to the temperature and seeing the local sights, including Charlie, the famous crocodile and seeing Bakau fish market in full swing as the fishing boats returned with their catch.

On Sunday we took the Barra ferry together with trucks, cars, passengers and animals to reach the north bank, and from there, drove along to Farafenni to visit our partner school, Farafenni Senior Secondary School. The accommodation at Eddy’s in Farafenni, is always interesting with students briefed in advance about having to shower from buckets in the dark, but the good news was that both water and electricity supplies had improved since last year.

Monday was spent at school meeting staff and students and attending lessons. It is always thought-provoking to see students studying identical content in such different circumstances and with so few resources. We were impressed to find students teaching each other in free sessions. The evening drumming and dancing show, put on in our honour, was amazing in its energy and colour and our students participated enthusiastically to the delight of the crowd.

Tuesday was the big day for the inauguration of the school hall. Many visiting dignitaries had made the journey to Farafenni from all parts of the country, and included chiefs, alkalos (local leaders), government officials and board members. The whole school of 1300 students from both shifts could fit inside the new hall (out of the sun and 37 degree heat for the first time) and many speeches were made to celebrate the link between our two schools and the fact that the magnificent hall had been completed and could now be used by both the school and the community.

 

We returned to the coast on Wednesday, spent Independence Day on Thursday getting a few local souvenirs and relaxing in the cooler weather before returning to the UK on Friday.

Our students formed a firm bond over the week, made many friends and were a credit to Sandringham. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience as you can see from their comments below.

Thanks to the students and to Ms Ashley and Mr Gray for accompanying the group. A big thank you  too to all of you who have supported the fundraising over the past few years, whether you were Morrison bagpackers or doughnut buyers, whether you attended the concerts or quizzes, made a bid at the auction of promises or offered a prize or service, performed or attended our International Evening, or simply gave your money at non-uniform days. The money has been put to excellent use by Mr Jallow, the Principal, and Mrs Kinteh, Chair of Governors and the whole board. They have worked tirelessly to liaise with us, the government, architects and  the construction companies, to ensure that the hall was built on time and to the proper specifications. Sandringham Hall is something we can all be proud of.

Anne Lyons

DoL: MFL and International Coordinator