Teachers from Kurdistan have been given a glimpse of wide ranging educational possibilities during a trip to Bury St Edmunds - strengthening a unique partnership between the town and Iraqi region.
Nineteen Kurdish teachers, heads and officials representing the city of Sulaimaniyah spent three days in the town to help improve their quality of physical education, learn different teaching styles and develop student leadership.
It is part of an ongoing three year link with King Edward VI School, in Bury, which took students to the region last year.
On Wednesday, the group visited schools in the Bury Schools Partnership including Guildhall Feoffment Primary where they saw a PE Lesson with seven and eight-year-olds learning hockey.
English teacher Lava Fraidoon said she was particularly keen to look at the teaching styles.
She explained: “I want to learn about the teacher training - how they teach their students, how they organise things and plan for their day.”
She noted that teachers in the UK have more freedom of choice over books and texts and are allowed to teach more than one subject.
Chemistry teacher Chro Mohammed, who teaches at Dwareozh School with Lava, said that headteachers in the UK have more autonomy to make decisions and form links with different organisations but in Kurdistran they ‘must ask so many people for permission’.
When asked if they think the education system will ever change, Lava said: “We hope it will. We’ve come here to go back home to talk about and share our experiences with colleagues.”
During their visit they also saw how King Edward VI has worked with St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Valley Connection restaurant and Ickworth Park.
Rob Walden, assistant head, said the partnership has already seen Kurdish teachers improve PE lessons from a ‘military drill style to a more open style increasing activity levels, thinking skills and leadership’.
Head Geoff Barton said: “We take our international work very seriously. Too many people only see the Middle East in negative terms.
“Our hope is that this will lead to a regular exchange programme between us and our partner schools.”