Braes High pupils form partnership with Israeli multi-faith school

Tabeetha School pupils pictured with leader Margaret MacDonald and Braes High's faculty head of Humanities Fiona Malcolm
Tabeetha School pupils pictured with leader Margaret MacDonald and Braes High's faculty head of Humanities Fiona Malcolm

Pupils from Falkirk district are working with a unique multi-faith school in Israel to spread awareness of children’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Braes High students have teamed up with Tabeetha School, which has 339 Christian, Jewish and Muslim pupils, in Jaffa to highlight the importance of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Tabeetha School leader Margaret MacDonald

Tabeetha School leader Margaret MacDonald

The news of the partnership falls on UN International Day of Peace today (Friday) which aims to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.

To mark the occasion, pupils from Braes High and Tabeetha School, founded by the Church of Scotland in 1863, are holding a joint No Uniform Day that will see the Falkirk district youngsters sport blue, red, green and yellow and their counterparts in Israel dress in white, green or yellow.

Photographs will then be exchanged and put on display in both schools.

The twin arrangement was set up by Bo’ness woman Margaret MacDonald, Tabeetha School leader, who was headteacher at Wallacestone Primary in Brightons for 22 years.

The project was originally thought up by former Braes High captain Josh Heggie who, along with fellow S6 pupils, had been tasked with leaving a legacy by the school’s headteacher, Iain Livingstone.

Mrs MacDonald, who took up her post at Tabeetha School in 2015, is delighted the two schools have managed to form a bond.

Explaining how the idea evolved, she said: “In May this year, I brought eight children to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and we visited Braes High.

“Rights Respecting Schools, a UN project, was an award Wallacestone Primary gained at first level a number of years ago and Braes are well into level two now.

“Tabeetha had never done this but Fiona Malcolm, faculty head of Humanities, was keen to share what Braes High School was doing.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the lives of young people in other countries, how they live, the similarities and differences and how the UN Rights of the Child are ensured in both schools.”

Providing an education for four to 18-year-olds from all over the world, Tabeetha School helps its pupils to gain a deeper understanding of humanity in a country where divisions are extreme.

With government-run schools in Israel generally catering for individual communities, children often have no chance to learn about anyone different from themselves.

Mrs MacDonald says Tabeetha is one of the few places in Israel where children and young people of different languages, faiths, cultures and histories are educated together in English.

Mrs MacDonald said: “Tabeetha has many strengths. It is a bright light in a very difficult land.

“Christian values shape all that happens and every effort is made to be apolitical.

“We pride ourselves in developing an intellectual, spiritual and social awareness in all our pupils, regardless of race, ability, gender or religion.

“There are children from all over the world rubbing shoulders every day and at the moment there are some 40 different languages and dialects spoken.

“Arabs learn about Jews and vice-versa which gives them confidence to go out into the world of work, able and willing to work with people of all religions and none.”