A HEADTEACHER and four members of staff have travelled to Gran Canaria during term time to take part in a £21,000 EU funded project to study how children play and learn.
Andrew Jervis, head of Crowhurst Primary School, left for the Canary Isles on Wednesday for the eight day trip.
He took two teachers and two other members of staff to the island to take part in the Comenius project. A supply teacher was drafted in.
The school, which draws many pupils from Hastings and St Leonards, is the only one in East Sussex taking part in the scheme which examines childhood, play and learning across the continent.
The Gran Canaria trip is the first in the scheme with subsequent visits to partner schools in Turkey and Italy planned in the future.
Amanda MacFarlane, who lives in the village, said: “It has not been demonstrated properly how this is of benefit to the children or why they have to go abroad for this. No-one actually understands why.
“Parents received this information at very short notice. Thye only found out in a school newsletter a few days before the trip was planned. The way they have gone about it seems very under-hand, almost cloak and dagger.
“This has caused a massive stink at the school. If parents want to take their children out of school during term time they make a massive fuss about it.
“Why is the school secretary going too?
“Why do it in term time and why do they have to go abroad for it?
“I have lived in the village for 19 years and three of my children went to that school. I am disgusted.
“I have been told there are plans for further trips like this one next year.”
Comenius is a program administered in the UK by British Council, funded by the European Union and named after Jan Amos Comenius, often considered the father of modern education.
It aims to develop knowledge and understanding among young people and education staff of the diversity of European cultures and languages, and the value of this diversity
Its mission is also to help young people to acquire basic life skills and competences for their personal development, for future employment and for active European citizenship.
Mr Jervis said: “The project will allow our pupils to learn alongside children from other parts of Europe looking at childhood play and learning across the continent and different periods of history. The chance for our pupils to collaborate with children in partner schools via our own learning platforms and also in the development of a project website is a great opportunity.
“It will benefit all school staff either by making visits or working on the project back in school through working alongside colleagues from the EU delivering activities and developing the work of the school.
“Subsequent visits may be scheduled at least in part over UK school holidays.”