I'm having a good day today – not only because the sun is shining but because I have just been to a lovely Japanese tea morning at John Jamieson School which is a school for pupils with learning difficulties in East Leeds.
A group of 12 pupils aged 16 - 19 from the school took part in the START project recently which enabled them to go to Leeds Grand Theatre to see Madame Butterfly and to take part in a dance workshop inspired by the production. Building on this, in lessons they have been finding out about Japan, about the culture, the art and the food from a country which is very different to their own.
I was welcomed by one of the pupils with a bow and a ‘good morning’ in Japanese and offered a cup of jasmine tea and a rather delicious homemade green-tea biscuit. Their music room had been turned into a Japanese haven, decorated in beautiful artwork of blossom trees, butterflies and Japanese scenes, all created by the pupils. Hand-decorated fans and gifts made by the pupils were available to buy as a fundraising effort as part of their enterprise lessons. And a display of photos adorned a wall, showing the pupils taking part in their workshop with us, and I have to say it looked like they were having a ball!
The room was crammed full of staff from throughout the school who had come to support the pupils and it was wonderful to see that the pupils' involvement in the START project wasn't over when the project finished, but had opened up a whole area of interest for them to explore. The pupils seemed to take real pride in the artwork that they had created and were very attentive hosts, making it a delightful trip out of the office for me!