Cultural School Links Programme Impact Statement

I am so happy that my school BT/ Sri Sithy Vinayagah Maha Vidyalam has linked up with Ocean Stars and is part of their cultural school links programme. We have had students from Calthorpe Park School, Fleet, Hampshire UK visit us for the last 4 years since 2013. The visits from students and staff from CPS have had an enormous impact on our students and our exam results.

Our students come from a poor socio-economic background.  The families have ongoing money problems, alcohol related problems, post tsunami family loss and one parent families where a parent is away working in the Middle East. This means that a child could go for 4 years without seeing a parent.

These factors mean that a lot of our students have mental health problems and feel low and unhappy.

The principal of BT/ Sri Sithy Vinayagah Maha Vidyalam, a school in Sri Lanka that is linked with Calthorpe Park School in Fleet, talks about the impact of the annual visit from the Calthorpe Park students.

When the Calthorpe Park students visit every year for one week in October our students have a chance to be free from their problems. They feel liberated. They can be children and laugh and have fun. This experience of having such joy and happiness has a long lasting impact on our children. They feel motivated to study and want to well in their exams. Their concentration has improved. They feel that someone cares for them and truly treasure the interactions they have had with the UK students. They learn lots of new English words and develop their social skills.

Two years ago Mr Ross Walker brought a set of Samba drums and taught our students how to play the drums.  He donated the drums to our school and I am so grateful to him for his kindness. In the past when we had band practice in school we used to struggle to get our students to attend. Now it is so different. Every lunch time you can hear the samba drums being played as the students come voluntarily to make music and be together.

Before Calthorpe Park School came to visit our school in 2013 our GCSE results were 26% A-D grades. In 2014 they went up to 35 %, in 2015 to 50% and 2016 to 58%. My target for 2017 is 65% pass rate.

When I attend Head Teacher meetings for the Eastern Zone all the Head teachers want to know what I do to improve our results year by year. There are 60 secondary schools in our zone. We used to be at the bottom of the league table for exam results. Now we are top alongside the four secondary schools in the centre of Batticaloa town.  A lot of schools have now asked to be part of this cultural link programme.

I am very grateful to Ocean Stars Lanka, Ocean Stars UK and Calthorpe Park Schools students and staff for all you do for the children in our school community. You are really making a difference and changing lives. Our children now have hope and their hearts are filled with happiness. I thank God for this opportunity that he has given our school. Thank you.

Mrs M. Tharmaseelan
Principal: BT/ Sri Sithy Vinayagah Maha Vidyalam