All students at Abbey Grange Academy pursue the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust Leadership Awards. As part of the Young Leaders Awards, students must undertake individual, school and community projects that make a difference. As part of their Award, some Abbey Grange students undertake projects that focus on partnerships in Ethiopia, not least fundraising for JeCCDO, their educational endeavours and more specifically, the development of the school at Debre Berhan.
Since 2013, students and staff at Abbey Grange Church of England Academy have actively engaged with Ethiopian communities across Ethiopia and with the thriving Ethiopian community in Leeds. The school recruits a growing number of students of East African background, including those of Ethiopian and Eritrean heritage. As a result of the positive partnerships that have been co-ordinated via Jill Adam Associates together with the recognition of the importance of celebrating diversity, the Senior Leadership Team at the Academy has made a whole school commitment to increasing collaboration at home and in Ethiopia through projects and fundraising associated with this country.
As part of this commitment, the school hosts a series of events and activities across each academic year, focused on learning more about key historical events, cultural traditions, current affairs and developments and opportunities for all to engage in ways that make a difference to the lives of others. For example, each July students, staff and members of the Leeds Ethiopian community host an Ethiopian Day for all students and staff, including learning and teaching themed activities that incorporate food, dance, music, sport, faith and education.
Likewise, each November, a small group of students from Abbey Grange Church of England Academy, have the opportunity and privilege to travel to Ethiopia, visiting partner organisations and associated charities, culminating in the opportunity to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run – Africa’s largest mass participation sporting event – hosted by world renowned athlete Haile Gebrselassie.
Ahead of the trip, the individual students embark on a year-long calendar of volunteering and fund-raising activities, engaging fellow students, staff and wider community members to raise money for associated partnership projects in Ethiopia. Since September 2016, these projects include a distinctive literacy related opportunity associated with the development of a brand new JeCCDO school in Debre Berhan, a developing town north of Addis Ababa. As with the development of any new school, there will be a need for a full range of learning and literacy resources ahead of opening.