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Schoolhouse has partnership agreements with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Childcare in Sri Lanka and with development organisations in both countries, so we can offer a variety projects.

Although English teaching is at the heart of most placements, there’s potential to volunteer in many ways - caring for small children, babies and toddlers, working with special needs children and adults or working in a community project, a school, college or children’s home.

You’ll combine elements of teaching, caring, playing (games and sports!) and performance. If you’re working in a nursery or children’s home, daily care routines provide excellent English learning opportunities. In a street children’s project, games, sports, arts and crafts are all great ways of teaching English. In a school, where you may well do some more formal teaching, you might still use a range of activities, such as drama, IT or putting on a class performance to teach English in very effective and practical ways.

Schoolhouse founders, Alan and Cathy have themselves volunteered in these placements and have established strong relationships with school and project staff. They know that you’ll find yourself surrounded by the rhythms of daily life, the special occasions and festivals that shape the culture around you. With an open mind and your beginner's knowledge of the local language, you'll be able to immerse yourself in this exciting new chapter of your life.

Accommodation for volunteers is sometimes provided on campus at the placement but is often provided by a carefully selected host family. Sometimes, a flat or house, shared with other volunteers is available and a private flat is also possible.

One month is the minimum length of placement we offer, although most people who volunteer for a month can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and wish they were staying longer. Placement of up to a year is possible.

Schoolhouse also runs arts and activity English camps - a fusion of the main elements of teach, care, play and perform used in placements - to create a performance, sometimes with a peace or community building element.

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Schoolhouse is privileged to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka. This allows volunteers to work alongside teaching staff in nursery, temple, primary, special needs and secondary schools in the diverse educational zones all over the island. We also work with partner organizations in independent schools and projects in India, often supported by funding from the UK.

These opportunities are wonderful because entering a school is like entering into the heart of the community. In schools, you’ll get to know teachers, other school staff, education officers, parents, grandparents and of course lots of children. Here you’ll experience daily routines, you might participate in key moments of children’s lives, you’ll enter into the build-up and excitement of festivals and holidays, you’ll begin to understand the problems people face and as you observe and play your part in all of this, you’ll be assimilating new skills and culture and of course, making your own personal contribution. For recently qualified teachers or those considering a career in teaching, the experience will be confidence building and illuminating.

You don’t have to be a qualified teacher to volunteer in a school. If you are, you will be most welcome and your experience and skills will be put to very good use. However, there are many ways that English can be brought to life in classrooms, helping children grow into confident speakers of English, helping them to understand new language. You don’t have to explain grammar or stick to a course book. Perhaps you’ll rotate round English classes in one or more schools, introducing a number of activities or projects, perhaps you’ll introduce or teach IT or lead after school clubs. Perhaps you’ll devise short plays or play games or teach sports or songs. You may find yourself working with small groups or even individuals to give extra support or a push ahead or you may work alongside class teachers or take responsibility for whole classes.

Teachers are also keen to improve their English skills and to observe how children learn language through communicative approaches. And the pupils are keen to learn! Schools are full of smiling children dressed in neat school uniforms - they are highly respectful of their teachers and are very hard-working.

School finishes for the day at 1.30 pm, so in the afternoons, you may find yourself going to the beach, visiting a rock temple, heading into a historic town centre or exploring the area a little further either by bus, train or bicycle. Perhaps you’ll just take tea and wander round a local market! You’ll have plenty of time to plan the activities for the next day and there will be plenty of time for relaxation and pursuing any personal projects.

You’ll find you are indeed at the heart of the community and there will be no shortage of invitations to take tea, go on outings and of course to use your local language skills!

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DrOp-iPRoJeCts For sTReEt & GYpsY CHiLdrEN

These are busy, buzzing city centre projects in India and Sri Lanka offering support to street children and gypsy children.

Many of these children have never been to school and the projects work hard to prepare and encourage them to attend school. Many of these children have already faced enormous difficulties in their short lives - HIV is widespread, as is child prostitution and drug problems. Home is the streets of the city and many families will have moved from rural areas, villages and gypsy settlements to seek work and opportunities.

These projects often work in innovative ways on community outreach programmes, which aim to educate parents about AIDS, about child prostitution and health.

Volunteers can get involved in all aspects of these projects - from caring for the babies and toddlers to developing nursery education, play programmes, after school English classes, performance projects and outreach community work - including performance projects.

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CHiLdrEN's  HOmein INDia and SRi LAnKa

These projects provide caring homes for boys and girls, aged between 5-17 years. There’s often a vocational training centre attached to the homes and some have a computer room. Some homes have a nursery and primary school associated with the project, some homes are for children with special needs. Some provide crisis care for young people in trouble.

Children of school age go to school during the day and are inspired to work hard at their schoolwork. Many go on to find good jobs.

Volunteers can combine English teaching in the homes in after school or weekend sessions with teaching in the nursery or primary school or in the vocational centre during the day. You could organize sports and introduce activities into the weekend and evening routines. The children love art and drama and writing poetry. Performers could develop a performance project and there’s always scope for providing additional support to the children and young people.

The project staff will welcome you into the heart of the community and you'll live life at the same pace and daily rhythm as the locals.

Some partner projects also runs after-school clubs in very small rural villages where local children gather for extra lessons. In these placements you could combine working in the home in the evenings and at weekends with additional day-time activities in schools or after-school clubs.

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ArTS acTIViTY eNgLish CAmpS

Schoolhouse also runs fun-filled, action-packed arts based English camps led by teams of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. There’s also sports, games and a mission to accomplish… at the end of the two-weeks, the children must have improved their spoken English AND a show MUST go on!

Using a format similar to the successful Schoolhouse English summer programmes for European students of English, the English Camp generates a buzz of excitement that comes form people working together creatively towards a common goal. As well as being lots of fun, there will be a real focus and sense of shared purpose, as children, volunteers and organisers work together to create something special.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work as part of a team, with responsibility for a group of children and for the part of the programme that best suits their skills and interests.

A range of volunteers who can mentor, support, act, direct, produce, paint, sing, dance, make music, make things, play, make funny noises, enthuse, sympathise, clown-around, coach sports are vital. Schoolhouse needs imaginative people, practical people, doers, communicators, people who can work independently and as part of a team. People will be able to make it happen! People who will introduce their skills to the children they work with.

There will be a theme, a format, a basic script as a starter pack. There will be some resources - sports equipment, paints, craft materials, possibly a computer, a good workspace with indoor and outdoor areas. There will be experienced programme directors or team-leaders to support the volunteers and there will be daily get-togethers for volunteers and children to talk about the issues that arise, to evaluate on an ongoing basis - not just the daily programme but also the challenges, issues, highs and lows of the volunteers and the children.

Volunteers develop a range of valuable skills in a programme like this - living and working together towards some very special outcomes.

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