Indian school partnership

An exciting connecting classrooms project

Visit report May 2013


** Please note this version of the report has pictures missing due to the settings of this blog. To view the full report with pictures, please email the school via the main website. Thank you.

Staff: Hannah Stewart and Michelle Charlesworth (Partnership coordinator)


The aim of this report is to share experiences, thoughts and ideas with teaching staff at Farsley Farfield and other school in the UK. It is categorised into different areas to make it easier for you to find the specific information you seek.

Overview of trip


During the trip we visited three different schools. The aim of this first trip was to familiarise ourselves with the school and the area, as well as identify differences and similarities between our respective education systems, pedagogy and culture.

  • G.A.V Public School – Ages 3-18 – Fee paying school based in the town of Kangra
  • G.A.V Secondary School – Ages 3-18 – Fee paying school based in the town of Kangra
  • Alpine Public School – Ages 3-15 (aiming to be to 18) – Fee paying school based in a small village called Sukkabag which is about 45 minutes outside Kangra in a remote area of the Himalayan foot

Tong-Len Charity

We also visited a charity called Tong-Len. This charity supports and helps children who live in the slum communities of Dharamsala and beyond, using education as a way of breaking the cycle of poverty and improve the aspirations, health and well being of the children in the slum. It does this in a number of ways which I have outlined in a separate report.














1 Teaching and Learning

1.1 Structure of the school day                  Page 3

1.2 Discipline and code of conduct            Page 3

1.3 Assembly                                                     Page 4

1.4 Subjects                                                        Page 5

1.5 Teaching                                                       Page 9

1.6 Curriculum                                                   Page 10

1.7 Assessment                                                                Page 11


2. Teaching Resources

2.1 Water aid project (also see folder called “water aid” on system )                                                        Page 13

2.2 Recycling Project (also see folder called “Recycling” on system)                                                          Page 14

2.3 Contrasting localities Project (also see folder called “Contrasting Localities” on system )          Page 15

2.4 Indian Festivals                                                                                                                                                          Page 22

Online blog has a diary and photos also (


3. Challenges and opportunities for future project work

3.1 Language barriers                                     Page 23

3.2 The heat                                                       Page 23

3.3 The travel                                                     Page 23

3.4 G.A.V. Secondary School                       Page 23


4. Summary and recommendations

Page 24


  1. Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning in India differs greatly to the UK education system in many ways. I have outlined some of the many ways below:

1.1 Structure of the school day

Most schools start at 8:30 and finish between 2:30pm and 3:30pm. Each child is allocated to a classroom, however a teacher is not always present. A lesson starts when a teacher enters the classroom. Children all stand to greet the teacher, say “good morning maam or sir” before waiting to be asked to sit down. Some lessons are led by teachers, some are led by older pupils within the school and some are free periods in which the children can choose to carry out independent work or play. Each lesson lasts 30 minutes – 20 minutes of “direction” and 10 minutes of observation/questions/work by the pupils.

These older children were teaching a lesson to these younger children at G.A.V. School

1.2 Discipline and code of conduct

Discipline and expectations are extremely high. Behaviour of the children is exceptional. Education is valued highly by each child. If the children arrive in incorrect uniform or in an untidy manner they are sent home. We saw no evidence of poor behaviour in any of the schools we visited during our time there. There are inspirational quotes painted onto every available wall around the schools, as well as reminders of how children should behave.



1.3 Assembly

The children stand outside in rows (even in the blistering 42 degree heat we experienced during our visit). Each child should not be able to touch the person in front of them or to the side of them. This dictates the uniform spacing between the children. They are not addressed directly by any member of staff. They follow the cues of the senior children at the front of assembly to sing Hindu Mantras and the National Anthem. This brings the children together at the start of every day and reminds them of their joint roles and responsibilities in school.


1.4 Subjects

The children learn all main subjects using text books written in English. They learn Maths, English, Hindi, Science, Art, P.E., Social studies and RE. From Standard 1 (reception class) they learn to read English. At first the teacher reads one word at a time to the children and they repeat, following along word by word in their text books. As the children get older, a child is chosen at random to read the text word by word in English which the other children repeat and follow along in their text books. The teacher will often then explain what they have just read in Hindi to ensure their understanding.  All children have their own exercise books, stationery and text books which they bring with them in large school bags every day. They also have regular homework.

The ICT Suite at G.A.V Public School.  There are 20 computers for 1500 students.

The Library and playground at G.A.V Public School.

The children play table tennis and Volleyball

Here, children can measure their own performance in standing long jump against lines on the floor

Children learn Karate at school

The children are taught to garden using small potted plants.

The children are taught to garden using small potted plants.

A child does gardening in the small garden at G.A.V Public School. Children are taught to cook by watching demonstrations by teachers. They do not cook themselves or sample the food.

The children are taught to sew and knit. They also learn to create Hindu Rangoli patterns on the floor.

The children are taught religious rituals and prayers as well as traditional Indian dancing.

The children perform traditional local and national Indian dances.




1.5 Teaching

The children learn by repetition and rote learning. The listen to the teacher, repeat the teacher and copy from the board into their books. The teacher rarely asks questions, and on the few occasions they do it is to ask by shouting at them “understand?” and the children we saw always confirmed “yes” with a nod of their heads. There seemed to be very little independent learning taking place. When we asked the children to think about how they recycle at home and to create their own posters, their first reaction was to copy the examples from Farsley Farfield which we had taken with us. At first we thought it may be that the children had not understood our request for them to think and come up with ideas, but even after a teacher had translated into Hindi, the children still seemed baffled and confused by our request for them to think for themselves. When the children were finally on task creating their posters, one teacher commented to us “I’m bored. I am used to teaching all lesson. I do not understand how they are learning here”.

The students learn by repetition and copying from the board or text book.

In these pictures students are starting to think independently about Recycling and develop their very own posters.

1.6   Curriculum

The curriculum is set out by the State government (in this case Himachal Pradesh State Government). The subjects are prescribed term by term and week by week in the text books which the children purchase. Each year has its own text book for Maths, English and Science which the teachers use each lesson. They find the correct page, read it with the children, draw/write on the chalk board exactly what they want the children to write in their books. The children copy this and then the lesson is complete.

A child follows the English reading in his text book, whilst repeating each word as it is spoken.

1.7  Assessment

At the end of each year, the main subjects are assessed by exam. Each child passes or fails. If a child fails a year he/she will remain in that year until he/she passes the exam (which will not be taken again until the end of the following academic year). In the time we were there the equivalent class of lower sixth had a 100% pass rate for the first time ever. The Head Teacher declared a day of holiday the following Saturday in celebration.

In sixth form the children have to decide if they will pursue a science strand or arts strand. This will dictate the university courses and ultimately the careers they will pursue.


1.7   Playtime

The younger children have toys and equipment to play with between lessons.








The playground at Alpine Public School. A boy plays with a stick and bicycle tyre.




















2. Teaching Resources for UK Teachers

2.1 Water aid project

Many homes do not have running water and so it is collected from water pumps at the end of streets.

The children created these models to show rain water harvesting.

Water Cycle work


2.2 Recycling Project


Our take away Chinese noodles were served in these foil keep-fresh packets. The foil packages were originally manufactured to hold Nescafe coffee and have been recycled to create a take-away packaging.
















2.3 Contrasting localities Project

In addition to these pictures and the videos, there are also two A3 presentations which the children at Alpine Public School created, all about their locality and Indian festivals. These presentations are stored in Mrs Charlesworth’s classroom – please feel free to come and get them when you need them!

The police station in Kangra. Fruit and veg stalls open early and stay open late into the night.

Cows are sacred in India. Wild ones like this one roam the streets and forage for food in bins. They also get in the way of the traffic!

People travel around on these rickshaws. It costs about 10 rupees (13p) to get across town.

Kangra town is situated above this empty river bed. This river bed is filled with raging water during the Himalayan snow-melt and monsoon time.

This is the view from Alpine Public School. How does this differ to the view from FFPS?

Street sellers sell juice from sugar cane. The wheel crushes the cane, squeezing out the juice. Add lime and the juice drink is complete.

In India they drink lots of tea. This is Darjeeling tea. You have to strain the tea leaves using a strainer.

This is an Indian restaurant. The toilets are in a separate building. There is a hole in the floor and you use water in a jug to “flush”.

This is the flight path from Delhi to London.

This is the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

This horse is carrying sand from the top of the hill where the road is to the bottom where they are building a house. He waits patiently to be unloaded before making his way up to the road again for his bags to be refilled. Ladies do the same work as men were building houses. We saw a woman laying bricks and another plastering.

This is his holiness The Dalai-Llama’s house in Dharamasala

These are Buddhist prayer wheels inside the Dalai-Lama’s temple. Each wheel contains hundreds of mantras. By spinning each wheel once you have effectively recited each of the mantras.

The main farming crop in Kangra is tea.

There are monkeys everywhere. They steal food and can be vicious.

This is the Hindu temple in Kangra. It was rebuilt following the devastation earthquake in 1905 which destroyed the original town of Kangra. When it was rebuilt they wanted the temple to be inclusive and open to other faiths. The largest dome represents Hinduism, the middle dome represents Islam and the smallest dome represents sikkhism.

This is inside a moderately rich Indian family home.

Many Indian homes have outside toilets, showers and washing facilities. Many do not have hot water to keep them warm in the cold winter months.








2.4 Indian Festivals

There are two A3 presentations which the children at Alpine Public School created, all about Indian festivals. The presentations are stored in Mrs Charlesworth’s classroom – please feel free to collect them when needed.


March – Maha Shivaratru

January – Lohri

April – Baisakhi

April – Navrata

May – Budh Poornima

April – Basant Panchami

October – Diwali

October – Dasherra

August – Rakshba

March – Holi

November – Bhai Dooj













3. Challenges and opportunities for future project work

3.1 Language barriers

We found that the staff and children at Alpine Public School in the remote village of Sukkabag (a 45 minute drive from the town of Kangra) had limited, if any, English. This made communicating and learning from each other particularly problematic and we required translators to attend the school with us each day. We found that the understanding and use of English of the students and teachers at both G.A.V Public school and G.A.V. Secondary school in Kangra to be much more advanced, negating the need for translators.

3.2 The heat

We arrived during a heatwave of 40 degree heat. Although unusual for this time of year, it is still hot in the weeks leading up to the June Monsoon rains. It was recommended that next time we visit we travel in the more pleasant months of October and November.

3.3 The travel

The daily 45 minute commute from Kangra to Sukkabag was a challenge on two levels. Firstly the travel in the excessive heat was draining. Secondly as we had to wait for the driver from G.A.V to take us to the school, we didn’t arrive until 10am and left again promptly (along with all the other staff) at 2:30pm. This left little opportunity for chat with the staff outside of lessons , and for joint planning (something which Crawshaw and G.A.V Public school regularly do, staying at school until 4:30 each day).















4. Summary and recommendations

During this trip we have achieved a number of objectives:

  1. Met staff and familiarised ourselves with the location and schools
  2. Worked with and taught children across a variety of age ranges
  3. Obtained resources to support future project work at FFPS (pictures, videos and objects)
  4. Identified challenges and opportunities for future partnership development
Skip to toolbar