Six pupils from Levenmouth Academy in Fife have joined six pupils from Eton to participate in the Roots Cultural Exchange Programme via Zoom, with the opportunity to meet in person later this month. The Roots Cultural Exchange Programme supports grassroots social cohesion through eight-week long exchanges between comprehensive and independent schools. The aim of the programme is to bring together young people from different backgrounds across the UK to discuss the issues that are most important to them. Within this ‘space for curiosity’, participants can explore their differences and similarities, learning and leading together.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to make a link with a very unique school,” says Duncan Zuill, a teacher leading the Roots Programme at Levenmouth Academy.

The Press Office met with the six Eton pupils in Year 9 who were chosen to take part, to ask them about their experience and discovered that they were as excited about the programme as their counterparts at Levenmouth.

“We’re seeing different viewpoints based on cultural background and heritage”, explained Jeffrey Cheung, describing how the Zoom sessions benefit from break-out rooms, where small groups can host a free-flowing discussion around key topics like equality, justice, freedom, racism and sexism. Blake Bratley told us that the leading teacher from Levenmouth provides conversation starters, including ethical dilemmas, definitions, and questions about our own perspective to get the discussion going. Some have included the ‘privilege dilemmas’ below, which are priced at £100 each. Each team was given a budget to select the privileges they believed central to wellbeing and survival, and through negotiating their budgets they learned that what you value is often rooted in who you are, where you live and the privileges you have already experienced.

We’re seeing different viewpoints based on cultural background and heritage

Jeffrey Cheung, Eton Pupil, Year 9

Each week Eton and Levenmouth pupils are asked to prepare something before the online discussion, such as identifying three problems society is currently facing. They share ideas on Mentimeter, an online platform, or Google Jamboard, which allows the group to collate and display ideas as they would using a whiteboard in a traditional classroom. As Tobi Bamisaye told us, “it has been fascinating taking part in the Roots Programme and working with the pupils from Levenmouth to see their perspective on issues that affect us all”.