At the same conference at which our Y4 pupils presented their drama about Australia Year, we received copies of the new book all about Wiltshire schools’ links with partner schools around the world. Matthew and Sophie wrote the Holbrook contribution to this book.
This is the text they wrote for the book:
If you can’t go to Australia, get Australia to come to you!
Over the current school year, Holbrook has been focusing on Australia. This is so that everyone connected to our school can share their knowledge and find out more; parents and governors as well as pupils.
Throughout the year we have given our usual school events an Australian flavour, for instance on 11th November we remembered Australian soldiers, for our annual contribution to the dance festival we performed a dance based on Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, and our Year Four play was about Australia.
We have had many visitors to school to help, some of them real Australians. The year started with a visit from Travis, a student from Adelaide. He taught us Aussie rules football. Mr Clarke, a Wiltshire Adviser, visited us several times. He told us Dreamtime stories, talked about Aboriginal Art and Australian animals. Chris Holland is a musician and artist. He taught us some basic didgeridoo skills.
We started a blog (www.holbrookaustraliayear.wordpress.com) which a group of Y5 and Y6 pupils keep up to date with all the news of our special year.
The best thing is that we found a school in Australia also called Holbrook School. We made contact and asked them to work with us. Their Principal and school leaders have shared ideas with our headteacher and School Council; we have exchanged work and they have answered our questions about their country.
Australia Day (26th January) was a big day in our school. The blog group led an assembly and we worked together to create a giant map of Australia, now on display in our hall. We wrote a letter to the Australian High Commissioner to ask for some support and he wrote back and put us in touch with people who could help us.
We got the whole school to read the same books: ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French for KS1; and ‘Stories from the Billabong’ by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace for KS2. Waterstone’s store in Trowbridge helped us with this project. Then, we had a brilliant visit from Francis Firebrace himself, an Aborigine from the Yorta Yorta people, who showed us his artwork. We all then had a huge art session and tried our hand at art, aboriginal style. After school pupils had their books signed.
To sum it all up, we would say that learning about Australia is brilliant when you can learn from real Australians.
Sophie and Matthew