Nyakatukura (NMSS) was set up in 2004 by the Church of Uganda to provide secondary education to poor and orphaned children. The local church donated five acres of rough farmland on which the school has been able to develop. When Dean Close first visited Nyakatukura in 2005, the children were sleeping on the floor, they had to walk 30mins to a natural borehole to collect water and there was no electricity. Furthermore, lessons took place under a mango tree on makeshift benches.
Thanks to the Dean Close community, Nyakatukura has evolved from its humble beginnings to become a blossoming secondary school with over 400 students. The school now has ten fully equipped classrooms, girls’ and boys’ dormitories, a library, an examination hall and solar electricity, as well as water harvesters and a water bore hole. A Science Laboratory Block is nearing completion, and in July 2017 an electricity generator was installed.
Over the years, visits of Dean Close Sixth Form pupils and staff every two years have cemented a strong relationship between the two schools which is celebrated by a plaque in Nyakatukura’s Main Office: ‘Dean Close and Nyakatukura Memorial School – Friends Forever’.
Since the Uganda Link was set up, we have raised thousands of pounds for Nyakatukura and supported hundreds of children through their education. However, the aim of the partnership has always been to build relationships, not just buildings. Our Uganda Link is founded on friendship.
In 2019, Dean Close signed a partnership agreement with No 7 High School, the top achieving school in Chengdu and one of the best in the whole of China. Staff exchanges have already taken place: the Warden, Emma Taylor, and the Director of External Relations, David Evans, visited Chengdu in 2018; No 7 High School’s Vice Principal Hu Yong and Vice Director Zhang Chi came to Cheltenham in 2019; and Dean Close School’s Deputy Head (Pastoral), Jacquie Davis, and Head of English Language Training, Rachael Vest, returned to Chengdu later that same year.
Pupil and staff exchange visits are intended to take place with Dean Close pupils being accommodated by host families, experiencing Chinese culture and customs through trips and engagement with their peers at No 7 High School and with No 7 High School pupils being accommodated in boarding houses or by host families and experiencing British culture and customs in a similar way.
The Cheltenham Education Partnership aims to:
ensure the best interests of young people are at the heart of education initiatives in Cheltenham;
provide outstanding educational opportunities for young people in Cheltenham;
reach out to all young people with potential regardless of social, economic or educational background;
provide stimulating professional development for teachers and update areas of knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes;
promote mutual respect amongst education professionals and students across the state and independent sectors;
foster social cohesion in Cheltenham;
encourage links between schools, colleges, universities and other sectors such as the Cheltenham Festivals, Cheltenham Christian Arts Festival, the Cheltenham Trust and GCHQ for the education and benefit of all members of the community of Cheltenham.
There is a programme of events for both pupils and staff administered by the CEP Coordinator.