Home Page

Blog of January 2019 visit

Saturday 19th January


We have had a very hot day today in the sun. We spent the day at St. Thomas Boys’ School, on their school field. All of the Cathedral Relief Schools in Kolkata came to the school with their children for a CRS celebration day.


Can you see the picture below of the school field with a big concrete trench going around the outside of it? What do you think the big trench is for? We have seen a few of these big trenches around areas. The answer is at the bottom of the blog, but before you have a look think about the weather in Kolkata throughout the year, and see if you can find out what the Monsoon is and when it happens?


There were about 400 children from the slum schools that are supported by the   CRS at the celebration day today. All of the teachers from Derbyshire then organised a British Sports day for the children to enjoy. Mrs. Hodgson and I were in charge of the egg and spoon race and the wheelbarrow race. You can see a video of the children enjoying the races on the grass. There we lots of other teachers from Derbyshire running different events as well. We had sack races, football dribbling, stuck in the mud etc. You can now see why we needed 37kg of luggage allowance when we flew out last week, we had to bring a lot with us. 


Finally at at the end of the day I watched an over of cricket. A local cricket team was playing a game on the other side of the school field. You can see a video of it on the video page. We saw many children playing cricket on open spaces, it was a lovely was to finish the last full day in India watching the national game.

Friday 18th January


Today has been a very special day. It started with us leaving the hotel at 7.15 in the morning. We then had a bus journey that took just over 4 hours driving south east out of Kolkata. 


We drove towards the Sunderbans on the India - Bangladesh border. We were going on a tiger hunt. The Sunderbans is a national park where Bengali tigers live in the wild. We went to a tiger reserve. The tiger reserve has a special job to do. Sometimes a tiger wanders from the wild into a village, when this happens the villagers call staff from the tiger reserve who come and fire a dart at the tiger that puts it to sleep. The tiger is then taken to the reserve to recover. Once it has recovered the staff take the tiger back into the wild away from the village. To help keep the villagers safe there are rope fences surrounding the villages to try and stop the tigers coming in. We saw one of the tigers in the reserve, the picture isn’t brilliant,  but it it was still very exciting to see. 


After the tiger reserve we went on a boat journey heading towards Indonesia. We were heading towards a rural village, near Basanti, that you can only get to by boat. It was another hour on the boat. There was no proper place for the boat to dock. The captain of the boat headed towards the muddy river bank where some villagers were waiting for us. They put some straw down on the mud to help us not slip or sink. During the monsoon when it rains every day the mud and lots of the village land gets flooded, but today it was a gorgeous hot sunny day. You can see a video of us getting out of the boat up the muddy bank and a picture of an anchor getting thrown ashore to keep the boat tied to the river bank. 


The pictures below show you the village. There were goats running around, cows tied  up and chickens in cages. There were lots of fields of rice growing.


In the village we went to the school. The school was built by the Cathedral Relief Service, CRS. The CRS is the team that run and support all of the slum schools that we have been working in all week. The school in this village means that the children are now able to learn to read and write. 


The staff at the school and the villagers had prepared a meal for us to eat in the school room. You can see a picture of the big pots that the food came in and of us eating in the school room. There was lots of food including curried potatoes and egg and vegetable salad. It was all lovely. I have also put a picture of some children playing outside in the evening sunshine and of the school from the outside.


As we got the boat back to the bus the sun was setting. It was the most beautiful view with the boats on the river.


We got back to the hotel very late at 10.15pm after a long lovely day.

Thursday 17th January 


Last night we were treated to a traditional Bengali evening and Mrs. Hodgson was able to wear a Sari, you can see a picture of her wearing it below. All of the female teachers then ate their dinner wearing the sari. We had seven courses of food, it was all delicious and spicy. At the end of the meal we had some crushed aniseed in a banana leaf. I really enjoyed this, it is used as a mouth freshener at the end of the meal.


Today we have been training teachers from the slum schools again like we did on Tuesday. Today Mrs. Hodgson and I trained the teachers to use the resources that were purchased by St. Peter’s congregation. You can see a video on the link and pictures below of us helping the teachers learn how to use the CVC flip charts. The diocese of Derbyshire has a link with 20 slum schools in Kolkata and teachers from a lot of these schools were here with us today. Each school will have one of the flip charts that we purchased and after today each teacher knows how to use them with their children. 


I have added a picture of what we were given for lunch today. It was a lovely selection of different curries. It was all vegetarian and tasted of lovely spices and flavours. We have had curry for every meal. We could even choose to have curried spicy dishes for breakfast if we wanted, but I am choosing to have toast instead, 2 curries a day is enough for me. 


At the end of the day all of the Indian teachers were given a training certificate to show that they had taken part in the training. You can see pictures below of the three teachers from Scott Lane getting their certificates and then with all of their new teaching resources from Derbyshire. 


As I write this Mrs. Hodgson is talking to Mr. Hallam and some children at school on face time. He has let us know that it is snowing in Belper. See if you can find out what the weather is like in Kolkata today by using the weather link in one of the blog entries below. 

Wednesday 16th January


Mrs Hodgson and I were teaching in Scott Lane School again today. All of the children were looking forward to seeing us. They had dressed in the clothes that they wore for their Christmas play a few weeks ago and showed us a dance that they had performed for their parents. You can see the dance on one on the videos I have uploaded to you tube today. They were very proud of the dance and performing it again to their visitors.


We gave the children the cards that the year 5 children had written and spent sometime talking about what you had written to your new Indian friends. We also gave all of the children a pencil each that the year 5 children had collected. You can see a picture of the children reading their cards.


Mrs. Hodgson then showed the children the video that the year 4 children had made of ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. The children liked the actions and were giggling whilst they were watching it. We then both read the story out again doing the actions. This is one of the books that we bought with the Christmas Jumper day money that is dual language. We left this book behind for the teachers to keep on using with the children. I am sure that Belper Bear will enjoy living at Scott Lane and the children will enjoy reading this story lots of times. I think that Bengali for bear is Baloo, but this was difficult to be sure of. Can some one check it for me please to tell me when I get back to Belper?


Mrs. Hodgson and I then also carried on with some maths and English lessons. The teachers watched us carefully so that they can see how to use all of the resources we left behind. You can see a video and picture of the children doing some of the shape and repeated pattern work. The children were learning the names of the shapes and how to say ‘This is a square’ ‘This is a circle etc. Mrs Hodgson taught some more phonics using the milk bottle tops she had prepared.


At the end of the day we were able to go and do a bit of shopping in the market. You can see a picture of how full the market was. It was very busy and noisy but was great fun.


The children at Scott Lane School are taught in a proper room. The room is a classroom in a fee paying school, St Paul’s Mission School.  St Paul’s let Scott Lane use one of their classrooms. This means that the children at Scott Lane have a toilet they can use and roof over the classroom.  Not all of the schools that the Derbyshire teachers are working in are like this. The final picture shows one of the schools that one of the Derbyshire teachers is also teaching in this week. Mr. Wilde from South Darley Primary school is also in Kolkata with us. His school does not have a proper room. You can see a picture of a woman wearing a yellow sari outside the ‘door’ to the school. The school is situated under a main road. You can see the tall concrete bridge above it. There is no playground, the small rooms are divided by bits of wood. 

Tuesday 15th January


This morning I was able to go to the Scottish Church Collegiate School and whilst I was there Mrs. Hodgson went to the church hall at St. Paul cathedral to take part in the teacher training and train some of the Indian teachers, including the teachers from Scott Lane. 


At the collegiate school I was able to go in lots of classrooms. For some children it was their first day at school. You can see a picture of me working with one of the children in their classroom. The children were sat in rows and some classes had 60 children them. I also went to some classrooms whilst the children were eating their tiffin. This is their word for lunch. They stay sat at their desks for lunch and do not go into a dining room. Look at the pictures below, can you see what food is in their lunch break? All of the children have tiffin brought from home, there is no kitchen to cook a school dinner.


After we had been in the classrooms we had a drink with the headteacher of the collegiate infant school. He is the man wearing the brown jumper. Whilst having the drink I showed him and the other teachers the videos that our year three children made of life at St. John’s. They really liked the video of Miss Thompson’s children working in their classroom and found it very strange that our children sit in groups and not in rows. At this school even the four year olds sit in rows at desks. 

Mrs Hodgson here.  I had great fun this morning sharing ideas with the teachers to help them teach their children phonics.  They really enjoyed singing a song, matching the sound and telling me words that they know starting with that sound.  After lunch I helped one of the derby teachers sharing maths ideas.  


When we left the training we went to visit Mother Teresa’s house - you can see a photo of her below. I wonder if you can find out who she was and tell me when I come back to school?

I have added a couple of videos to the link at the top of this page. One link shows some of the teacher training that we did today. You can see some of the teachers being shown how to use some resources to help with maths lessons.


On the second video you have to put up with some singing from me, but then you get to here the Indian teacher sing the song in Hindi. The teacher is one of the teachers from Scott Lane school. She is lovely teacher and loves teaching her children how to sing. She was very excited to learn some English songs. 

Monday 14th January


This morning Mrs. Hodgson and I got to work in our school! We have had a brilliant morning with the children at Scott Lane school. You can have a look at some videos of us in the classroom above with the children.


They were very excited when we gave them Bobby the Bear, he helped us teach them the song “Heads shoulders knees and toes”.  Because he is wearing his smart St. John’s uniform with the word Belper on it the children immediately renamed him, Belper Bear. I think that he suits his new name. The children are very happy with their new friend and Belper Bear is happy in India.



The children took some of the videos themselves and were very excited to be using an ipad. They loved looking at the pictures of themselves and playing the role of cameraman. 


Mrs. Hodgson read them the Hungry Caterpillar in English and their teacher read it in Bengali. We then acted the story out. I was then able to do some maths work with some of the children teaching them the names of shapes. I hope that you can hear the children speak on the video. 


I have given the children the work that the year 2 children had done about Christmas in Belper. I was asked about the advent calendar and tried to explain what one was. 


At at the end of the session the children sang a prayer in Bengali.


Sunday 13th January


This morning started with us attending the morning communion service at St. Paul’s cathedral. All of the teachers went. The service was in English, which surprised me. The church had lots of similarities with St. Peter’s in Belper. There was a huge stained glass window and an altar at the front. There were some differences as well, we sat in chairs and not on pews. There were also dozens of fans hanging off the ceiling and no heating pipes. Can you think of why the church has fans and not heating pipes? You can see a picture of the church below.


We then went to the Queen Victoria memorial gardens. You can see the pictures below. The big white building has a statue of Queen Victoria sitting on her throne. Kolkata used to be the capital of India when it was part of the British  Empire. Queen Victoria ruled over England and India and lots of other countries during this period. Can you find out the name of any other countries that used to be in the British Empire?



This evening we went on a boat on the river Ganges. You can see a picture of the sun setting on the river below.

We are now back in the hotel and Mrs. Hodgson and I are planning our lessons for tomorrow when we go to teach at our school. We are going to teach at a school called Scott Lane school. We met the headteacher of the school today at the church service. She is the lady in the middle between Mrs. Hodgson and me below. She was at the church this morning when we met her. Can you see who is helping us plan our lessons? Bobby is with us in India and is helping Mrs. Hodgson with her Hungry Caterpillar work. 

Hello this is Mrs. Hodgson 

The streets are very busy and there are lots of people selling foods.  We have seen fruit stalls, hot food being cooked and even Wall’s ice cream!  The man on the photo below is cooking corn on the cob. When it was cooked the people were given it to hold in one of the big leaves that the corn grows in. They were a lot bigger than the ones we get in Morrison’s!

Saturday 12th January


We have arrived safely at our hotel. We have had a day recovering from over 20 hours of travelling and trying to get over the jet lag. 


I was able to go for a little walk in some local shops, you can see a picture of me in a book shop, wearing a yellow tshirt . There are a lot of very little shops. I went straight to the first book shop I could find. You can see how full it was of books. I also walked past the local fire station. It looks very different to fire stations in Derbyshire. If you look carefully at the picture of the fire station you can see that it has some scaffolding up outside of it. In England the scaffolding is made out of metal. Can you see what the scaffolding is made out of in Kolkata? The answer is at the bottom of this blog.


This afternoon were able to go to a Jain was temple. It was covered in lots of little mirrors.

Friday 11th January


Mrs. Hodgson and I are at present flying over the Black Sea. At the airport I was taught a trick that you can do with your watch to find out the time in India. If you have a normal analogue watch, see the picture below, turn it upside down whilst in the UK and you get the time in India. I took the picture at  20 past 5 uk time, but because my watch was upside down it looks like it is saying 10 minutes to 11. 


The aeroplane is is very comfortable and we’ve just had our dinner. On the display it tells me that it is -64 degrees centigrade out side the aeroplane. How cold is it in BELPER at the moment. Do you know why it is so cold outside the plane?

Thursday 10th January


Before the Christmas holiday we had a Christmas jumper day when children came to school wearing a festive jumper. Children were invited to contribute some money that Mrs. Hodgson and I would use to purchase some resources to take with us. Just under £150 was donated – thank you. You can see pictures below of some of the resources that Mrs. Hodgson has bought.


The children in Kolkata speak Bengali. Mrs. Hodgson has bought three duel language books that are written in both Bengali and English that we will take and then leave behind. The books are, The Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Hanna’s Surprise. You can see in the pictures that Mrs. Hodgson has also purchased pens and other art equipment to help do some activities with these books.  If you click on the Hungry Caterpillar and Bear Hunt titles above you can see what the cover looks like with Bengali writing on them.


If you are very clever you can use the google translate switch on our website to translate our school website into Bengali. Just above this blog is a select language button. Have a look at what this blog looks like in Bengali. Can you recognise any letters? Can you work out how to write your name or any other words in Bengali using google translate?

Wednesday 9th January 2019

We now have a third person flying to India from St. John’s on Friday. This morning when I got to work I found ‘Bobby the Bear’ at my computer in my office with his case packed ready to go. Bobby has let me know that he wants to fly on a plane with me and then live in India with the children in Kolkata. He is obviously very brave but wants to make lots of new friends. When Mrs. Hodgson and I return in a couple of weeks we hope that the children in Kolkata will be able to send us some pictures of Bobby playing and learning at his new school in India.


As well as getting to know Bobby I have also been getting ready for the flight to Kolkata. We fly out of Birmingham airport on Friday afternoon on Emirates flight EK-040. Whilst the place is flying on Friday afternoon you can see where it is on this flight tracker, CLICK HERE. We will be taking off at 1.30pm on Friday 11th January. The plane has to stop on the way to Kolkata at Dubai airport at about 8.30pm so you will be able to use the flight tracker until you go to bed on Friday night. If you want to use the flight tracker whilst I'm not flying  CLICK HERE. This flight tracker lets you see where all of the aeroplanes in the world are and is good fun to look at. If you zoom out on this tracker can you work out why some of the map is dark and some is bright?


We will then take off from Dubai at about 10.00pm on the way to Kolkata on Emirates flight EK-570.  We then land in Kolkata at about 2am in the night when you will all be fast asleep in bed. Can you find Dubai and Kolkata on a map?


When we land in Kolkata we have to put our watches forward five and a half hours to 7.30am. India is five and a half hours ahead of Great Britain. This means that people in India will be having their breakfast, even though I will want to be fast asleep. I think that I will be very tired.


We are flying on an A380 plane this is sometimes called an Airbus A380. You can see what it looks like inside the plane by CLICKING HERE and going on a virtual tour of inside the plane. I think that I will be on seat 74D in the economy class. If you are clever you can find this seat on the virtual tour and sit down on it. What can you see? What do you think Mrs. Hodgson and I will do for the 12 hours that we are flying for?


I hope to write one more blog before we fly and then on Saturday 12th I should be able to write to you from India, but until then here is Bobby the Bear sitting at my desk this morning.



Friday 4th January 2019


All of the teachers that are travelling to Kolkata met to share school resources that we are taking. We have already met several times in 2018 to plan lessons that we are going to teach in Kolkata. The aeroplane we are travelling on will allow each teacher to take 37kg luggage with them in three separate bags. You can see in the pictures below how difficult it was to distribute the resources so that we were all going to carry the same weight. Is there anything in your classroom that weighs 37kg? Do you think it’s going to be easy or difficult for me to carry 37kg through the airport to the aeroplane? The last picture is my favourite as it shows some of the resources that I have had to put in my suitcase. You can see lots of books and games that we are going to use. If you look carefully you can see a 3 letter flip chart. We are taking 20 of these in total and they were purchased by the congregation of St. Peter’s church so thank you to all of the congregation that donated.


I have also had to pack some sun cream. We don’t use sun cream in Belper in January, why am I taking some to India? Can you find out what the weather is like in Kolkata at the moment and do you think I should take a waterproof coat and umbrella with me? This weather forecast page might help you or you can go to the BBC weather page . Make sure that you type in the word Kolkata correctly.



The scaffolding on the fire station is made out of bamboo.


The channels around the edge of the field are for when it floods in the heavy rain in the monsoon. They fill with ran water.