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Greenfield Children's Festival 2022

On Thursday 9th June, Greenfield School hosted its 3rd annual ‘Children’s Festival’. Children from preparatory schools across Surrey came together for a day of activities and discussions around the topics of equality and sustainability.

We have seen the impacts that humanity has had on our environment, our economy and our society; in order to prepare our future world leaders to make a positive change in the world, the children’s festival aims to inspire the leaders of tomorrow to tackle change. At Greenfield, one of the ways we aim to do this is our weekly ‘Understanding the World’ lessons. Each lesson looks at one or more of the 17 sustainable development goals as set by the UN; an initiative designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". In learning about the inequalities and issues that face the world on a global scale, the children come up with things they can do as an individual to help lead our world to a better future.

At the Children’s Festival, the aim of the day is to empower children to understand how their influence can be a force for change in the world. In line with Greenfield’s school ethos, the day was focused on combatting entitlement, greed and hatred by imparting generosity, kindness and peace; empowering the children as conciliators between today’s planet and the future world. In particular, the Children’s Festival focused on number 10 of the 17 sustainable goals – “Reduced Inequalities”.

First on the agenda was a presentation by each team on their chosen country; some of their choices were made through topical or classroom interest, and several were chosen to reflect the heritage of one or more of the members in that group. One of the major themes of the day was reflecting on how we all come from different backgrounds and cultures and how this affects our upbringing. In order to take on the topic of inequality in a way that could be relatable to the children, their theme for their presentations was childhood around the world; the differences in their education and lifestyles in comparison to their own.

The presentations covered childhood in Ukraine, Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ghana and the Awá tribe in Brazil. As well as discussing their initial impressions of what life might be like in these places (then compared to the reality), we learned about the cultural differences and significant threats that each country face – from war to climate change. Highlights included understanding more about high-intensity test culture in China, testing assumptions in a quiz on Nigeria, and considering the similarities of countries whose livelihoods may be threatened by climate change or warfare. Following all the presentations, in their groups the children pondered a few questions posed including; what kind of inequalities have you learned about? Which country’s children do you think might be the happiest?

Considering sustainable practices that benefit communities around the globe, the children listened to human rights expert, Olivier LaBoulle, currently Head of Sustainability at Louis Dreyfus. Diving into the countless people and practices that go into making a bar of chocolate in a supermarket, the children learned about how a sustainable supply chain that aims to reduce inequality and practise fair trade can make all the difference to communities around the world – and which chocolate bars are ethically sourced!

After enjoying a locally-sourced lunch the children welcomed MP for Woking, Jonathan Lord, who hosted an interactive talk about the life of an MP and what makes a great leader. Following their recent Understanding The World homework, Greenfield’s Year 5 children were especially keen to meet with Jonathan Lord who responded personally to many of the letters they had penned to him as part of their ‘Make A Difference’ topic. Feeling inspired by Mr Lord’s explanation of his day to day decisions and the types of issues he looks to solve, the talk rounded off with some tricky questions from the children that were carefully considered by all, including “What do you do if you have a problem you can’t fix?” (A suggestion from one listener: “Apologise!”)

The final exercise of the day was a challenge that would intimidate most adults, but that the children were well equipped to take on following their enriched day of meaningful discussions; a simulated parliamentary debate. Sat in a circle around Chairperson Mr Brown (Greenfield’s Deputy Head), the children gave their opinion on a range of interesting ideas following Mr Brown’s prompts, covering wages, healthcare and education in order to help sustain a world that treats everyone fairly.

Organiser Mrs Mayes said about the Festival: “Running this event gave a wonderful opportunity to see the children stretching themselves in a new challenge and enjoying enriching activities outside of classroom learning. It never ceases to surprise me how passionate and informed the children are when voicing their opinions; seeing young people be so aware and empathetic certainly gives us hope for the future.

With every child voicing their opinion and speaking in front of dozens of faces they had never met before, the Children’s Festival was an opportunity not only to broaden the pupil’s perspectives and understand how they can impact the changing world around them, but also to boost their confidence in leadership, decision-making and problem-solving. With ever-mounting crises facing the world, there is no doubt our leaders of tomorrow need early preparation to take on their biggest challenges. It is our hope that initiatives such as the Children’s Festival will inspire our young people to become empathetic, fair and resilient leaders of tomorrow.

A few closing comments from the children after the Festival:

What is one thing you learned today that you didn’t know before?

  • I learned that there are still rainforest tribes in the Amazon
  • That everyone should be treated the same
  • That every country has a different way of life and education
  • That lots of countries are in poverty and are treated unequally
  • That chocolate usually comes from the Southern Hemisphere
  • I learned about what an MP does.

What did you enjoy most about today?

  • I enjoyed speaking about Indonesia
  • I enjoyed the children’s parliament at the end
  • I enjoyed discussing with different schools and I made two great new friends
  • I enjoyed presenting and listening to other school’s presentations
  • I enjoyed talking to Jonathan Lord and listening to the presentations

Greenfield School would like to invite you to take part in our next annual Children’s Festival, designed to promote social responsibility and global citizenship. Participating schools bring five children from KS2 to present on a specific topic based on understanding the world around them - it could be a song, dance, speech, presentation or play. Children will also have the chance to debate global issues in a Children's Parliament. If you are a leader in sustainability, politics, or any other role based around improving the lives of others around us, we warmly invite you to be an inspirational speaker during the festival.

If you have any questions, would like to participate as a speaker, or to book a place for your school, please contact Juliet Mayes, Head of Social Responsibility KS2 – jmayes@greenfield.surrey.sch.uk.