Innovative Staff Training and Team Building for Pre-School Teachers

Ocean stars is a small UK charity formed in 2005 in response to the catastrophic Boxing day tsunami that killed an estimated 50,000 Sri Lankan people. Their aim is to "Rebuild shattered lives". Today their focus in on intervention and support in education, with a particular attention on pre-school teaching & learning.

The organisation currently manages 20 pre-school establishments in some of Sri Lanka's poorest and most remote rural communities, where previously no educational opportunities existed; providing access to high-quality pre-school education for more than 600 children.

Not satisfied with just affording access to education, they are also working to improve teaching standards across their schools.  Learning by rote is typical of teaching practices in Sri Lanka, with many teachers having few qualifications and low teaching skills. Ocean Stars aims to raise the bar. This summer, with support from Fonthill Foundation, Ocean Stars delivered an incredible 3-day teacher training event for seventy of their teaching staff.  With many people travelling more than 10 hours from their communities, some leaving home for the first time, and others bringing family members to look after their children, showing the dedication and commitment of the teaching team!

Developed and delivered by education professionals, the conference provided a rare opportunity for teachers to come together as a collective, to share ideas and experiences, and learn new skills. For one teacher, it was the first training opportunity she had had in 32 years!

With workshops introducing new learning techniques, for example using Mega blocks and Duplo to teach and learn about shape, colour and construction by doing rather than just talking, this was a revolutionary approach for many.  Attendees were really excited to take these 'new' ideas back to their classrooms.  Such teaching events inspire a thirst for learning and a keenness to improve themselves as teachers, as well as inspiring the future for their pupils. 

Alongside the teacher training event the charity are also upskilling their pre-school teachers by funding them to complete a one-year Diploma Certificate in Early Years Education.  Recognised by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education as the gold standard in teacher training, the qualification means sustainability, improved educational experience for pre-school children and potentially higher wages from the government.  Something particularly important for the women in the community.

In addition to all of this, the team at Ocean Stars are also implementing a child development program to their schools.  To monitor the physical and creative development of every child as they progress through the 2 years of pre-school. Identify and adapting learning support measures particular to each individual child.

With this raft of interventions supported by Fonthill Foundation, and a holistic approach to pre-school education, every pupil will be given the best educational start in life.  We are very excited to follow the continued progress of this fantastic organisation and the success of the Ocean Stars teaching team.

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