The Beach School Project is made possible by a team of English teachers and academic students from a range of universities in England. The Beach School will be working in collaboration with The Cape Verde Foundation and Camara Municipal do Sal to deliver free high-quality English education to children and adults in Sal in February 2019
The project is led by Mr Ben Watson, a former principal of a school in England and specialist English teacher; Mrs Andrea Ramos-Watson, also a teacher from England and Miss Filipa Ferreria, our project leader based in Sal. The Beach School is supported by a further network of academic students from within a wide range of English universities who will be visiting Sal throughout 2019 to work with us, as well as offering their time to support teaching via the internet.
The Beach School will work in Sal to complete three teaching phases in 2019:
- Phase 1:February 2019
- Phase 2: June-September 2019
- Phase 3: October-December 2019
Discussing the partnership and how the project changes live, project leader Mr Ben Watson explains more.
The Beach School Project was born in the MELIÃ Dunas Beach Resort & Spa.
In July 2018, I travelled to Sal for the first time with my wife Andrea and my young son Harry. We stayed in the Melia Dunas.
For us, the trip was more than simply a family holiday; although she was born and raised in England, Andrea’s father and brothers are Cape Verdean and live in Espargos. Our trip began as a family reunion and a welcomed summer break and ended with preliminary plans for The Beach School.
Having worked for many years as a school leader and English specialist in UK state education, I was overwhelmed by my first experiences of the work undertaken by teachers and those working with young people here on the island; having spent my whole career working with learners from areas of socio-economic disadvantage in England, I felt a strong sense of connection to the purpose with which those working in Sal approached their work with children. I also recognised the significant challenges and disadvantages which they faced, many of which were beyond our ability to address.
However, as I spoke to local people working in hotels, in taxis, at bars and on the beach, it became apparent that there was an area of need here in Sal which we could help with. Education.
Specifically… English education.
Shortly after our first visit, I resigned my position in the UK and began to self-fund repeated trips to Sal throughout autumn 2018.
Flying out alone, with nothing more than hand luggage and a big idea, I began to knock on doors; I spent countless hours drafting emails and translating policy documents in order to understand more about the English needs of people in Sal and the ways in which we could help to meet those needs. With the support of Andrea’s family, I began to establish relationships in the local community and with schools and associations on the island.
Gradually, flight by flight, door by door, people started to believe in the project; people began to support the project and eventually some people became part of the project.
Filipa Ferreria was in Sal as she, like myself and Andrea, had been moved by the challenges faced by some people on the island during a previous visit earlier in the year; she had returned to Sal to explore ways she could help, utilising her own areas of expertise. It became quickly apparent that her own aims and values and ideas were very similar to our own.
One month later, Filipa left her job, her home and her friends in Berlin and relocated to Sal.
By December, we had agreed and confirmed arrangements with a range of schools, associations and local government in Sal to work throughout February 2019 to deliver free high quality English education to students. However, in spite of the abundance of support offered in kind by academics and teachers in England, we had no money.
So, we launched a Go Fund, we set up a Facebook page and I took to the internet with my guitar, my quick wit and my good looks and… well… we got some donations. Then we received an offer of support from The Resort Group and The Cape Verde Foundation and suddenly, things began to click into place.
The generosity of support offered by The Resort Group in terms of accommodating our teachers, and supporting us in making contact with others in a position to help us realise the scope of our ambition, has allowed us to transform our dreams of teaching in February into a reality. For this we are incredibly grateful.
Tonight it is Sunday, February 3rd.
Tomorrow morning at 8:00am, the first of our Beach School lessons will take place in Secundaria OIavo Muniz in Espargos. As the week unfolds, we will work with many other young people on the island, in Castelos Do Sal, in Terra Boa… as well as offering free evening tuition to adult learners in Santa Maria.
We are very proud of the work we have undertaken to reach this point and we are confident that with the support and partnership of The Cape Verde foundation we will succeed in having a positive impact on those with whom we work this month.