March 2013 Newsletter - Number 3

Sandra and John have recently returned from seven weeks in The Gambia, when they were able to spend a considerable amount of time assisting with the two schools in Sohm.  They achieved a great deal, in allocating the £4,000 plus that the charity has raised this year.  Progress has been made in so many areas, that the news will be spread over the next two newsletters. Activities included:

  • Improving sponsorship arrangements;
  • Facilitating teacher training;
  • Establishing a Book Fund, for the secondary school;
  • Ensuring that all 180 10 and 11 year old students, at the Lower Basic school, get a school trip, exploring the major sites in the country;
  • Cementing the school twinning arrangement with Derwentwater School, in Acton;
  • Distributing donated lap tops to both the lower basic and senior secondary schools;
  • Establishing a repair fund, to mend the bikes of students who live more than 2 miles from Sohm, and who would otherwise have to walk to and from school;
  • Arranging the visit of 50 members of Football Gambia to Sohm, to provide an all-village sports training day for both schools;

Teacher Training

Sandra's daughter, Natalie, is an assistant head teacher at Derwentwater Primary school in Acton. She spent the February half term in The Gambia, with her colleague, Nicola.  The two of teachers provided whole day teacher training to all of the staff, in each of Sohm's two schools.

They received an over 90% approval rating for their efforts, with the most common remark on the feedback form's being "Come back next year"! The heads of the two schools were delighted with their efforts and are confident that teaching performance in the schools will improve.

Certificates of participation and attendance were presented to all those who attended the courses.  The picture on the previous page shows Natalie and Nicola with the whole staff of the Lower Basic school, with their certificates.

Book Fund

John with the senior school principal, vice principal,
chair of governors and English and ICT teachers,
with some of the books provided by the charity

The Gambian government provide textbooks for pupils until the age of 12.  After that age, students have to buy their own textbooks, or rely on sponsorship.  A year ago there were very few books in the Sohm Senior Secondary school for the 180 years 10, 11 and 12 students (aged 15 - 19) and examination results were poor.

Sohm Schools Support has established a Book Fund over the last two years.  As a result, there are now sufficient text books for these students, so that all of them are able to share a key set book (one book between two students) for each of the 15 subjects studied at this level.  We look forward to greatly improved examination success!

Cementing School Twinning

Derwentwater school in Acton twinned with Sohm Lower Basic school last year, and raised funds for their Gambian friends and colleagues at two school fairs. The pupils have exchanged letters and whole class diaries. We presented small prizes to the Sohm pupils who wrote the best letters to their London colleagues, while in The Gambia

Students at each school have had lessons on the countries and life styles of their international friends. A talented artist in the village was keen to show Sohm's gratitude for the twinning and painted the Derwentwater logo on the wall outside Gibril Bojang - the Lower Basic school's head teacher's office.

Sandra with Gibril Bojang (principal) and LaminSamu(deputy - crouching)
by the friendship sign outside the head teacher's office in Sohm

Football Gambia Sports Day

Sohm youngsters enjoying a parachute game
 on the Sports Day arranged by Football Gambia

We'll be providing you with an update of this exiting occasion, in our next newsletter.  We thought we'd just whet your appetite, now!!

Keep in Touch

We have a presence on Facebook (SohmSchoolsSupport), Twitter (@GambiaSchools) and a website (, and can be contacted via e.mail at  Keep in touch and find out how we are getting on, and spending our income!

That's enough from us, for now.  Until the next time,

John and Sandra Walker
(Trustees, Sohm Schools Support)

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