This year’s Peace Schools Conference highlighted the hard work and continued commitment to peace work by all pupils, teachers and educators – despite of the effects of covid-19 on education worldwide.
The Wales Peace Schools Scheme enables schools to develop peace as a cross-curricular theme and whole-school approach, generating exciting learning opportunities and initiatives.
Professor of Languages, poet and former winner of the bardic Chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Mererid Hopwood opened the conference.
She asked what we can do better to achieve peace and said Wales has an important role to play.
Ms Hopwood said: “You have to learn, to work and to find ways of making peace. It is so great that we have this opportunity with our new curriculum to help one another learn about making peace. Peace is not about being silent, peace can be full of sounds and joy. It is something we as people have to make, and that starts with the tiniest child to the oldest citizen.”
Dr Jan Ruzicka a lecturer in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University, talked about David Davies and his sisters as inspirational Welsh peace figures, and how instrumental they all were in setting up the first department of international politics in Aberystwyth.
Dr Ruzicka concluded the presentation with an image of a blank page in a book, which once belonged to David Davies.
He said: “I would like to leave you with the image of a blank page, for the reformers of today and tomorrow to write in the spirit of David Davies and his sisters and what they did for international peace, which they did from Wales. It shows that international peace can be promoted from anywhere.”
Following the introductory to this year’s conference and peace heritage, teachers and pupils from schools across the country shared presentations of their peace school journey.
Pupils at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Carmarthenshire shared their own presentation and told us that as part of morning registration, pupils take time to think about people who promote peace worldwide such as Malala Yousafzi. The school has also appointed Kindness and Peace Ambassadors who ensure good relationships are maintained.
The school won first place in this year’s Young Peacemakers Awards and Magda Smith won Young Global Citizen of the Year and Sam Barrett was awarded Young Global Analyst of the Year.
Ysgol Parc y Tywyn pupils spoke about the Globe Council at their school and how members, while working Children’s rights, created 10 rights, one for each school month. Rights included the right to education and to attend school, the right to receive care and respect and the right to meet friends and join clubs in the community.
Leah Sier (pictured right) is a trustee at Scouts Cymru, and travelled to the 2020 Global Summit in Turkey. She said it inspiring to hear the action young people from all over the world are taking, and encouraged everyone to take the chances to hear and learn from others from different backgrounds and ways if life, whenever possible.
The ‘Walk the Global Walk’ project was then introduced and discussed by Wales’ Project Coordinator Polly Seton and Dolen Cymru’s Education Project Officer, Mandy Ballet.
The project aims to educate young people and motivate them into taking action for the SDG’s (sustainable development goals). The project has also worked with Dolen Cymru, an NGO which connects Wales and Lesotho in south Africa, which has meant that thousands of young people from both continents have been working towards the SDG’s. Their future aims include launching a manifesto of climate action and to support all schools in achieving level 1 Peace School status.
Pupils at Ysgol Acrefair in Wrexham, have been focusing on SDG 16 – ‘Peace, justice and strong institutions’, and they have looked at issues such as decision making and the impacts of violence on children worldwide. The school worked closely with community Police Community Support Officers, which helped them to develop an understanding of how laws are made and enforced as well as how the criminal justices system works.
Pupils then explored whether the legal and justice system was the same in all countries and what the impact of an unfair system had on countries worldwide.
At Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Tirdeunaw, pupils had recorded a message to tell us why they wanted to work towards becoming a Peace School.
A number of pupils make up the school’s Rainbow Council, which is responsible for ensuring health and peace in the school.
Under the school’s code of conduct, they have designed a feelings tool that gives individuals the opportunity to communicate visually with adults. The school has also written 10 school rights, and the Rainbow Council wrote a song to reflect their vision.
Peace Education Coordinator at the WCIA, Jane Harries said: “’It was a truly inspirational conference which enabled schools to share how a focus on peace issues has supported learners in becoming more caring, critical-thinking, and active citizens – locally and globally.”
The Peace School scheme is funded through the generous support of the Sallie Davies Memorial Fund, and we would like to thank the fund for their contributions and once again, thank you to Sallie Slade who attended the conference and presented this year’s awards.
You can find presentations from the schools and young people, as well as resources and more information in the online padlet HERE