Focus School Plymouth’s first ever International Day extravaganza took place on Tuesday 23rd January. ‘International Day?’ I hear you ask. Well, yes – the day is something that many schools around the world take part in; it provides an opportunity to reflect on a chosen topic that is common to people in many parts of the world.

This year’s event was therefore centred around something that all human beings do, no matter where they live or how old they are – sleep!

The day started off with a whole school assembly led by Mrs Roderick who shared all kinds of things about sleep with those present, including photos of weird and wonderful beds! We also learned many facts relating to sleep. For example, a recent study found that if a person lived for 70 years, and if they slept on average for 8 hours a day, they would spend during their lifetime:

653 hours waiting for trains        

2, 170 hours sunbathing    

3, 000 hours shaving
38,003 hours eating
46,800 hours doing housework   

115 days laughing            

5 months complaining
5 years being online           

11 years sitting in front of the television.
26 years sleeping

So, sleep is a pretty important part of life!

We also focused this year on the work of James Mollison that highlights children’s rights by contrasting the different living situations for young people across the globe. His photos showed examples of where children from different parts of the world live – they were a real lesson to us all and made us appreciate what we have . . . We realised that there is a vast difference in living standards across the world and while some children have amazing bedrooms, others sleep on stone floors without a cushion in sight.

Mollison says of his work: ‘I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was . . It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at where children sleep in all kinds of different circumstances.’

After the assembly, students from Years 3 to 11 were split into groups, each with a specific challenge to be completed by the end of the day.

  • Mr Turnbull’s group designed beds;
  • Madame Meagher’s group made posters on the language of sleep;
  • Mrs Hillier’s group made a patchwork quilt;
  • Mrs Roderick and Mrs Pace’s group wrote bedtime stories;
  • Mr Powell and Mrs Irvine’s group learnt all sorts of facts and figures related to sleeping and what your sleeping patterns say about you;
  • Mr Damarell’s group designed homes to sleep in;
  • Mr Street’s group made a shelter from waste materials, thereby empathizing with those sleeping rough today.

It was good to see everyone joining in and supporting our very first International Day!

One of our Year 10 students commented “I never really thought until today about how poor people have to make a shelter from whatever is available to them. Basically, rubbish! It was really challenging having to make a shelter out of the little stuff we had. We didn’t even have scissors!”

A Year 7 student commented: “It was so good to spend a large amount of time on one challenge. Usually we start something and then have to stop and go to the next lesson. Today was great because we could start something and and also finish it. I managed to write a children’s book!”

Even Mrs Hillier was surprised at what was achieved:”I never thought we’d actually make a quilt!”

The day ended with a walk around to view the groups’ achievements which were considerable.

Well done everyone on such a successful day.

Special thank you also to all those who ran and supported the group workshops.