About Us

The Marlborough Brandt Group MBG was set up in 1981 by a committed group of people living in and around Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK, who responded to the publication of the Brandt Report ‘North ...

Become a Friend

Support us now as a friend Joining MBG as a friend couldn't be easier. Use the drop down to select which level of payment you would like to make, then click on the 'Become a Friend' button, which ...

Experience the REAL Gambia

WGEC runs an annual teachers' study visits to Gunjur, The Gambia and literally hundreds of teachers from Wiltshire and beyond have benefitted personally and professionally from the experience of ...

Projects

Vision: To support TARUD to alleviate poverty and hardship faced by the community of Gunjur In 1990 MBG started several development projects in Gunjur and the surrounding area based around health ...

Setting up School Links

Linking schools in Wiltshire (and beyond) with schools in the Gambia is at the heart of what we do at WGEC. For any school that has been involved at any level with school linking, whether with a ...

Small Business Development

In common with many international development agencies the focus of MBG and TARUD's work in Gunjur has focussed on women's development. We have been involved in a women's literacy and numeracy ...

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School projects

Global-green-fingersGlobal Green Fingers

Global Green Fingers is a new, 2014 project funded by Awards for All. We are working on it with WISE (We Inspire Sustainability Education) with schools in the Westbury area to support them in developing Global Gardening Clubs. What makes these Clubs different to the usual school garden projects is that they will all incorporate ideas and techniques from Africa, as well as explicitly promoting sustainable approaches to gardening. They will also have an element that engages with the school's wider community.

Some schools have already got plans for making Ugandan 'keyhole' gardens, and for growing foods that also grow in Africa. Others are going to make water tip-taps, to demonstrate innovative approaches to hygiene and water conservation, and we may even see a greenhouse made of recycled plastic bottles. The whole project will culminate in an African picnic day in July, when schools will showcase their activities and enjoy food and music from The Gambia.

World at Work

WGEC was delighted to be awarded funding from Heritage Lottery Fund to manage the World of Work project which will be running in 6 Trowbridge Primary Schools from January to June 2014. Our partners in this project are WISE (We Inspire Sustainable Education), Trowbridge Museum and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre based in Chippenham.

The project will match the four schools to four local industries in the town and will give children the chance to make the local/global connections which are on their own doorstep. They will trace products in and out of the area and meet people who have been brought into the area from abroad, starting with the arrival of the Flemish weavers up to present day migrations of people. They will take part in a Memory Week at Trowbridge Museum and search through census information at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre to find out how the demographic of their town has changed.

They will interview local people who have spent their working lives in the town's industries and through connecting with real people's lives will come to understand the human stories behind the statistics. Their results will be recorded and blogged, to be stored on both our website and at the end of the project at Trowbridge Museum.

To follow each school's progress please visit our World at Work Blog.

World at Work Final Event June 2014

The four particpating schools met for a final event in June to present their research and findings to an audience of parents and teachers. This gave the pupils' a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate their learning and showcase all their hard work. There were some really creative ideas displayed and the children gave very confident and informative presentations.

Walwayne Court Display

  

  Walwayne Court Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mead Display

 

 

The Mead Community Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

  

West Ashton Display

 

West Ashton Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holbrook Display

Holbrook Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WGEC Global Entrepreneurs Challenge Winners 2016

A team of four year 10 students from Hardenhuish School, Chippenham, Wiltshire won this year's final in May with their impressive presentation and business proposal to make sustainable charcoal briquettes from peanut husks. The team and their teacher will be travelling out to The Gambia for one week during October 2016 half-term, a fantastic prize made possible by funding from The Arkleton Trust. Read more in our blog Hardenhuish School win Global Entrepreneurs Challenge.

VIBE Challenge Winners 2015

A group of Year 10 boys from Pewsey Vale School in Wiltshire won the competition with their inspiring idea to make roof tiles from recycled plastic bags.

Read about the boys' trip to The Gambia during October half-term in our blog.

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Gunjur as an educational resource

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All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG All about MBG

Experience the REAL Gambia

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WGEC runs an annual teachers' study visits to Gunjur, The Gambia and literally hundreds of teachers from Wiltshire and beyond have benefitted personally and professionally from the experience of living in an African village and finding out firsthand what development means.

How long will we go for?

The visit is led by Caroline Harmer and traditionally takes place during February half term. Proposed dates over February half-term - 2 options: choose between a week long stay or extend for 11 nights.

  • Friday 10 February to Friday 17 February 2017
  • Friday 10 February to Tuesday 21 February 2017

What is the programme?

The programme will vary from year to year and is very much based on the experience and needs of the participating teachers. We find that teachers return again and again and the more they return, the more they are able to contribute in some way to the life and needs of the village.

We know that teachers always want to come away feeling that they have achieved something concrete and the idea that they have left more behind than they have taken away in personal experience.

This could be training of pre-school teachers in their new curriculum, it might be that we contribute to a linking conference for Gambian teachers with a link school in the UK, or simply some informal teaching in one of the local schools or a more focused visit to your own link school. (If you don't have a link school in the Gambia and would like one, WGEC can always arrange this).

DSCN1760Some features of the programme remain constant however:

  • The visit will be education themed in the broadest sense – the programme will change according to who is with us
  • We will always be the smallest group that is economic and everything is flexible and negotiable
  • You will stay with a host family in the village – for many of us, this is the most memorable part of the visit and deep and lasting attachments are made between our teachers and their host families
  • We start the week with courtesy visits to the key people in the village – the mayor, the leader of the women and the Imam. To call them courtesy visits is something of a misnomer – it is a unique opportunity to have direct contact with the movers and shakers in Gunjur and find out what the Gunjur/Marlborough link has meant to them
  • Visit the projects sponsored and supported by the Marlborough Brandt Group – the women's garden, the new covered market, the health education project, the mill and mix, the new latrines, the tie/dye enterprise to mention just a few – to give you some understanding into the sort of groundwork projects which can make a difference to people's lives
  • We always try to spend some time out of the village to give you that wider perspective and to propel you into the complexities of development – for example, those tourists who visit the luxury hotels further up the coast are bringing in very necessary amounts of foreign cash at the same time as using vast amounts of the country's essential resources such as water. How do we square that circle?
  • There will always be some time for relaxation – Gunjur is next to one of the most beautiful pieces of deserted coastline in the Gambia and study visits do take place in your school holiday, after all
  • You will take part in a farewell party, dressed up in all your Gambian finery (including a hat...) and beg your friends not to put the pictures on Facebook

A unique experience 

Oh and something amazing and quirky will always happen!

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  • you may unexpectedly find yourself being entertained by dancing oyster collecting women who bring tears to your eyes as they tell you how understanding their role in looking after the environment has brought new purpose to their lives
  • you'll make an impromptu speech to a cast of thousands
  • an internationally acclaimed kora player will ask you how your parents are – he remembers meeting them on a visit to a school years go
  • you will realise that you can eat cold fish and chips for breakfast or a variation of spam for every meal
  • your heart will be gladdened by the smile of the little girl in your compound who goes everywhere on her little stumps of legs and is the best colourer there is, even though she has no fingers
  • you may even bump into Jermaine Jackson on a remote island (yes, the brother of one Michael) who will pose for a photo with you and assure you very seriously that he 'loves charity'
  • you will laugh lots and you may weep a bit, but above all, you will have learnt

DSCN1818How much will it cost?

For WGEC this is a non-profit making enterprise. We keep costs to an absolute minimum to ensure that as many people as possible can take part. Usually the total cost will be approximately £950, depending on airfares.

The cost of your visit will include full induction, usually over a couple of sessions which will deal with the practical details of your visit but will also prepare you to be looking at the wider picture and a feedback session; all transport including flights and airport transfers plus if appropriate an overnight stay at Gatwick; hosting and meals with your family in The Gambia; full programme of activities and support from MBG.

Testimonials

  • "The experience of being in Gunjur is one which restores focus to the world I normally inhabit and I enjoy the opportunity to connect with people from a completely different culture to mine."
  • "This was a huge learning experience for me, as I am not used to travelling on my own or staying with people I don't know or share a language with. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to come an on the visit and even more grateful to my hosts for making me so welcome and doing their best to make me at home."
  • "Because it was Gambia in a microcosm – hot, relaxing. Lovely people, interesting shocking and surreal (meeting Jermaine Jackson!)."
  • "I cannot think of a single time when I was there I did not feel as if the experience was worthwhile or that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I have learnt so much. I only wish it could have lasted longer – or maybe the intensity was part of the magic..."
  • "It was a really good trip, well organised and with a good balance between Gambian cultural experiences, our schools and having a bit of a holiday!"
  • "The children and staff will learn of a deeper understanding of a different culture. The children love to hear of the stories we bring back with us."

Read MBG Chair Anna Quarendon's account of the 2014 study visit in our blog.

Read MBG Administrator's account of the 2016 study visit in our blog.

Read Lydney Community School blog from the 2016 visit The Gambia! Miss Harvey and Mr Ramli's African Adventure.

DSCN1835 1How do I apply?

We are now taking bookings for February half term 2017, for more details on costs and length of stay please contact Caroline Harmer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Priority booking for WGEC members

 

 

Setting up School Links

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Linking schools in Wiltshire (and beyond) with schools in the Gambia is at the heart of what we do at WGEC. For any school that has been involved at any level with school linking, whether with a school in Europe or further afield, there will be things that we agree on. Linking with a school somewhere very different to your own area can bring the world into your classroom on a personal and professional level in a way that arguably no other initiative can.

Gunjur-Classroom It can reinforce global citizenship and enable your pupils to look at the world through fresh eyes by relating to the real lives of children with very different lifestyles and experience. It will give you educational opportunities that nothing else can.

But school linking is never easy, is always challenging and time-consuming and within even the best links, there will be areas of misunderstanding and bewilderment that will sometimes leave you wondering quite why you're doing it.

The concept that we are all very different people with diverse ideas on almost everything is often why we want to do it in the first place.

Support for your link

We now have more than 40 schools in Swindon and Wiltshire that are linked with a school in the Gambia. Most of those links are active and thriving with regular communication between the schools, joint curriculum work going on, teachers' visits both ways being supported by grants such as Connecting Classrooms and great work going on both sides of the link.

Boyo-teaching-in-local-primaryAt WGEC we can find you a link with a Gambian school and through the regular visits of staff and supporters of the Marlborough Brandt Group to Gunjur, we can offer you a level of support which would be difficult elsewhere.

We are supported in the Gambia by GOWLA, the Gambian One World Linking Association, and its voluntary director, Ebrima Drammeh, is diligent in his efforts to make sure that Gambian schools enter into school partnerships understanding what they are about – that they are not just a means to divert charitable funds to support the school. He is ruthless in following up schools that haven't communicated for some time with their English counterparts and works assiduously to make the most of what we all realise is a fantastic linking opportunity which can sometimes be hampered by lack of technology that you may find elsewhere in the world.

Setting up a new link

  • WGEC membership will cover the cost of finding a link school in the Gambia and for the ongoing support 
  • Non members will be charged a £50 administration fee for setting up and supporting the link
  • WGEC staff are registered by the British Council to deliver training for linking programmes, including Connecting Classrooms and can respond to individual requests for training from schools or clusters.

Giraffe-mural-Gunjur-classroomFrom time to time, WGEC is approached to find a link with a school elsewhere in the world and though we cannot support these links in the same way, we are always happy to advertise the opportunity for schools via our regular ebulletins.

If you are interested in setting up a link for your school then please contact the office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

 

 

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