Ilkeston teacher speaks of her life-changing trip

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The head teacher at Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy has spoken of a ‘life-changing’ trip to South Africa.

Joan McCarthy spent two weeks in South Africa with the charity Mellon Educate, working in schools and finding out more about the country’s education system.

Mellon Educate has built houses for 125,000 homeless people in South Africa’s poorest townships and runs an education development programme to benefit more than 100,000 African children.

Mrs McCarthy spent much of her time in a secondary school called Silversands High School, teaching and supporting teachers.

She said: “It was a life-changing experience. It was what I was expecting and more, it was so humbling. Although teachers out there have their qualifications they don’t have much teaching experience so we were running workshops with them. There were 55 children in one class and often there aren’t enough desks for them all.

“I would just like to thank everyone who sponsored me ahead of the trip.”

Mrs McCarthy is planning to return to South Africa next summer and is keen to hear from any teachers who are interested in going out there.

She said: “I would encourage anyone who is thinking about going to find out more. If volunteer teachers can share their practice and I’m sure the project will flourish.”

To find out more information visit the Mellon Educate website www.melloneducate.com