Visitors to Manor House School last week might have been forgiven for thinking they were in Africa upon arrival.  Everywhere they looked they saw an array of African shields, artwork, carvings and native dress.   This was due to the celebration of African Theme Week by all the girls and staff at the school in Little Bookham, near Leatherhead.  The sounds of African drumming could be heard from the main entrance hall with girls dressed in the theme of ‘Africa in all its Glory’.   There were a huge array of activities staged across all year groups in support of the much acclaimed Theme Week which customarily occurs on the penultimate week of the summer term every year.  Theme Week allows the Manor House girls and staff to immerse themselves in another culture and learn about the challenges, cultural differences, lifestyles, history and traditions whilst helping raise money for charity.   This year Manor House School worked with three dedicated charities, who also visited the school throughout the week and held a variety of assemblies and workshops.

These charities included The Born Free Foundation, The Watato Foundation and Water Aid. In the Senior Department, girls in Year 8 asked other year groups to bring in small change to create a coin picture of Africa as well as helping to raise money for World Bicycle Relief. This was to help buy a girl in Africa a bicycle so that she could travel to school to achieve an education.

Junior girls in Year 5 dressed up together in the spirit of ‘The Lion King’ on Friday and in support of African Charity Day.  They are pictured here with Mr Will Travers OBE of The Born Free Foundation. The charity work throughout the world to stop individual wild animals in zoos and circuses suffer neglect and protect threatened species in the wild.

Junior and Senior girls in Years 6 – 9 discussed issues surrounding the conservation of African wildlife, looking in particular at the future of the big cats and great apes.  They saw video clips including David Attenborough and learnt about Howletts Zoo in Kent, who run a conservation programme for gorillas. The pupils discussed and brainstormed these issues and then made up short dramas highlighting what happens when man comes into contact with wild creatures.  The role plays were all on different topics and were acted with great skill and enthusiasm on the front lawn in brilliant sunshine.  Zara Axton, Headmistress said “It is a great way to educate young people by making it fun and accessible to all.”

Year 6 and Prep 1 took part in African drawing workshops. Other activities included African Mask making, African Music, African Art Textiles, African cookery, Hat Making, West African Dance, African Singing, Coil Pots,  Big Cats, Gum Boot Dancing, African Necklace and Bead Making, African Contemporary Dance and Workshops on Gambia, Architecture, Nelson Mandela and Slavery amongst others.

During the week, the Library took part in African storytelling, with classes learning about myths and legends linked to African tribes. Pupils listened and took part in stories passed down through generations from countries such as Morocco, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana.