February half term, History teacher and Coordinator of Charities from Oundle
School, Ian Clark led an exchange trip to Gilgil (near Nairobi) in Kenya to
visit Gilgil Special School. Ian was accompanied by Oundle School’s Head of
Community Action, Liz Dillarstone along with three special needs teachers from The
Phoenix (Special Needs) School in Peterborough – Sarah Norman, Anthony
Skipworth and Janice Mountford.
aim of the trip was to build long lasting connections between the two special schools
to enable support of Gilgil’s Special School and the Kivuli Trust, along with
resource provision and idea-sharing. The idea for the exchange trip came from Oundle
pupil, Octavia Morgan (18) following a School trip to Kenya in 2012. Octavia
was visiting The Phoenix School regularly on Wednesday afternoons through
Oundle School’s Community Action programme and saw the huge benefits that could
be gained from establishing a connection between the two special schools.
Octavia commented, “The same year that I was lucky enough to
visit Kivuli and explore all the schools surrounding Gilgil, I began working at
the Phoenix School. It was a really interesting experience being able to see
how similar the interaction was between the children in Kenya and the children
back in England, regardless of their disabilities. The Oundle pupils responded
with warmth and enthusiasm to a situation which, on the surface, could be
described as both strenuous and uncomfortable. I realised that not only did
both our schools have resources to share with Rhoda at Kivuli, but that the
teachers at Phoenix could learn a vast amount from a visit to Kivuli.”
advance of the trip, staff and children from The Phoenix School collected
football shirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and flannels for the children
in Gilgil and teachers left behind resources including story sacks and a
beautiful wall hanging.
Otieno, the Deputy from Gigil Special School, returned to England and spent
time at The Phoenix School in Peterborough as well as visiting community
initiatives (including adult disability art sessions and sport sessions with
Heltwate (Special Needs) School) in Oundle, organised by the School’s Community
Action Department. Rhoda also visited Marshfields (Special Needs) School in
Peterborough and The Mobility Aids Centre in Peterborough who have supplied
wheelchairs for the school in Gilgil.
visit to England, Rhoda commented, “I really
appreciated my short visit to the UK. I admired the well planned and organised
work at the Phoenix and learned and acquired knowledge that will help me
promote the standard of our learners.”
their visit to Kenya, the teachers from Oundle and The Phoenix spent a day with
the 34 boarders who stay at the Kivuli hostel attached to Gilgil Special School
visiting the Malewa Bush Ventures. The staff and children played games and tried
out the low ropes as well as enjoying a mini-safari where they saw giraffes and
zebra. The group then spent a further 3 days at the Gilgil Special School
working alongside teachers and children.
has established close links with a number of organisations and schools in the
Rift Valley region of Kenya over the last 12 years and a group of staff and
pupils will be returning to visit Gilgil Special School in October.
(Kivuli meaning shelter in Swahili) has built and operates a hostel at Gilgil
Special School specifically for children with physical and learning
disabilities. Its aim is help these ‘forgotten’ children receive specialist
education and support within a regular school environment encouraging interaction
with school aged children - which is essential in encouraging a new generation
of understanding and acceptance.
Kivuli Trust opened its first hostel
in 2008 in the grounds of the Gilgil Township Primary School. With the
support of the local community and the provincial government, it has been
running successfully ever since. It provides overnight care during term
time for 34 of the more severely disabled children (17 boys and 17 girls) who
would otherwise not be able to attend the government funded Special Unit at the
primary school for their education. The second hostel, providing overnight care
for a further 34 children, is due to open this week.
Many of these children have physical
as well as cognitive disabilities making them especially vulnerable.
Before the first hostel was built, the Special Unit had only a dozen children
and they struggled to make the journey there and back every day. Sadly a
number of the girls were raped on the way. Most parents not only saw no
point in helping them to get an education but regarded them as worthless and a
mark of shame on the family. As a result, these children were all too
often neglected and abused, and had no hope for the future. The building
of the first hostel utterly transformed this dismal situation.
Awareness of the hostel has spread to
the wider community prompting more disabled children to come forward and attend
the Special School for their schooling. In 2006, a single classroom
provided education for 20 children but now the Kenyan Government has built a
further two classrooms enabling over 90 children to receive an education.
Kivuli Hostel has been recognised as
a ‘Centre of Excellence’ by the Kenyan Government. It regards the
hostel as a flagship project, and an example of how disabled children – given
the right support – can be given a worthwhile education. The aim is to
encourage the Kenyan Government to view this as a sustainable model for the
The hostel has made a profound
difference to the attitude of the local community towards disability.
Parents have seen that their children really are capable of learning essential
life skills, such as brushing their teeth, cleaning themselves, washing their
clothes and performing simple tasks, and therefore now accept them far more
readily as part of their family. They also realise that many of the
children are capable of much more than that. The School’s motto is “Disability not Inability” and appears on
the children’s school jumpers.
representative from the Kivuli Trust commented, “The Kivuli Trust was founded because we believe these children have a
rightful place in society. By building and operating hostels within the grounds
of mainstream schools, we are visibly making this statement. Our hostels act as
safe havens, providing children with regular meals, proper beds and the care
and support that they deserve and thrive upon. We work in partnership with
local governments who provide the classrooms and specialist teachers. Our aim
is to teach these children essential life skills such as brushing their teeth,
cleaning themselves, washing their clothes and performing simple chores about
the home. The simple result, which we are witnessing, is that they become more
readily accepted into their families and into their communities.”
information about and to support the Kivuli Trust visit: www.kivulitrust.org
Background Information on Community Action at Oundle School
350 pupils are engaged during the year in providing service in the community in
Oundle and surrounding villages and as far afield as Corby, Kettering and Peterborough.
Pupils work in schools and nurseries, with the elderly and infirm; provide
drama for special needs schools, environmental support work at the country
park; offer ICT lessons for beginners; help at a local special needs club and
produce a Community Newspaper (Oundle Chronicle to name but a few of the 30+
also help with Inner city holiday schemes and have regularly slept rough to
raise money for St Basils’ homeless shelter in Birmingham.
Publicity and Press Relations Officer
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English
market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings,
dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town,
which is, to a large extent, its campus.
School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the
Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded
the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876,
the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School,
primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for
pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two
schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton
for the day House.
the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading
English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who
established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering
schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec, a major and
ground-breaking new science complex opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories.
Phase two of the SciTec vision is now underway, with enhanced Design Technology
facilities and a new purpose-built Mathematics Department planned to link the
STEM subjects both physically and philosophically. A concurrent Sports
Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few
years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion in 2015.
are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 865 boarders and
250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior
School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.