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British Council award for Portsmouth academy who helped pupils in Covid’s worst-hit regions

A HEARTFELT project launched by a Portsmouth school to prevent students around the world from feeling isolated during the first Covid-19 lockdown has received a national award.

Langstone Junior Academy was commended by the British Council for its initiative which reached out to children living at the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe, including Italy’s hardest-hit regions.

The international project saw year six pupils at the Portsmouth school, near Baffin’s Park, send digital hearts and goodwill letters online to encourage children to talk about their feelings of living through a global pandemic.

Langstone headteacher Mrs Jane Bush said: “To secure the award is a real honour for our students and teachers. It has brought many benefits to the pupils and families during this difficult time. The children were able to involve their families, work creatively and collaboratively, experiment with other languages, express their thoughts and feelings, but most of all have fun.”

The school’s project, known as Red Zone: Isolated but connected, received an outstanding project accolade at the British Council’s eTwinning awards, which recognise the best education initiatives from UK schools that enrich learning across the world.

To secure the award, the pupils from Langstone, which is part of the University of Chichester Academy Trust, worked with 57 other schools around the world as part of the initiative.

Langstone teacher Lyndsey Knight, who oversaw the project, said: “Our aim was to create a safe and happy space in which everyone could share feelings, thoughts, activities, drawings, crafts, songs, games and letters connected with lockdown. Even though isolated from each other, the children were able to connect with lots of new friends from all around the world.”

Langstone headteacher Mrs Jane Bush (left) and teacher Lyndsey Knight (right) were recipients of the British Council award

The eTwinning programme is a digital initiative by the British Council which links schools across 44 Europeans countries to encourage collaborative learning and education opportunities. Last year it reached more than 80million people across the continent.

Judges from the eTwinning awards said Langstone Junior Academy directly addressed the lockdown with a thoughtful and imaginative use of technology developing creative solutions.

They added: “Good collaboration between the staff involved structured new learning opportunities for all the students involved. The inclusion of family support and engagement in the students learning is commendable.

“Student collaboration eased the isolation for all the participants and the twinspace [online platform] demonstrates the extensive learning opportunities. A worthy winning project focused on learning in lockdown.”

A video showing how the Langstone’s Isolated by connected project not only benefited schools worldwide but also its own pupils is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkkUPRxXTW0.

Find out more about Langstone Junior Academy and how its pioneering initiates are helping its schoolchildren to thrive at https://langstone-jun.portsmouth.sch.uk.

For more on British Council’s eTwinning awards visit www.britishcouncil.org/etwinning/awards-recognition or https://twinspace.etwinning.net/112203.