After the long Easter break, Heart & Parcel were at Marlborough Primary in Salford to greet some women whose children attend the school, cook some Pierogi and practise some English.
We had wanted to work with Marlborough school for a while ever since Clare ran a 10-week parenting ESOL course there. The school has an inclusive culture and are proud of their multicultural and multilingual identity. Up to 29 languages are spoken at the school and over 40 ethnicities are represented.
Despite the positive ethos, there remain certain issues surrounding multiculturalism, namely language and access to opportunities particularly for the parents. Judith, the business manager for the school spoke of the measurements they have put in place to support for the families of the children who attend Marlborough. They welcome ESOL courses with a focus on community learning. For example, parenting courses and cookery courses to cater for everyone. Judith’s plan is to install a vegetable patch in the school, growing fresh produce and encouraging all parents to come and spend time in the school ground, volunteering and helping out. This, she feels is important to get parents engaging with their children and the communities around them. Finally parents are encouraged to volunteer or even work at lunchtime supervisors, reading assistants and other roles that allow them to become part of the school family. A challenge though, is getting mothers through the doors. It is mostly fathers who drop their children off in the morning at Marlborough and the school have little contact with mothers. We had this in mind when we started our sessions here.
We had actually met a couple of the women before from previous sessions and from ESOL courses that had long since been discontinued. In total we had six women which made it a relaxed and very informal session. We made some dough together and caught up with the women and their holidays.
When it got to the folding, some of the women had seen different folds on the internet and were able to show us some Chinese folds! Was great to see the cross-cultural knowledge transfer…
We of course had some traditional folds by Naima, a woman from Libya who has been learning English with us for a while and is getting better each time we see her.
Whilst Karolina wheeled off the dumplings to be boiled, Clare did a reviewing exercise with the ladies to consolidate their vocabulary from the session. In hindsight, we didn’t anticipate how much these ladies had improved since we had last spoken at the ESOL classes, as the women found the exercise too easy. For next time we will put it up a level.
We also handed out recipe cards so that the women could try them at home.
We then ate the dumplings with a salad and chatted about life and the English language!
We spoke about the complexities of using English in everyday life, and how we could use English to motivate ourselves to do other things, like starting businesses, helping our children more with school and talking to neighbours. We also had a little discussion about the different types of flours on the shelf and which ones to purchase.
We really enjoyed the dynamic of this session because it was quiet, intimate. It was like a coffee morning with some good friends.