A BIG-HEARTED Wollaston headteacher is spearheading a borough-wide project to raise funds to transform the lives of children living in rural Nepal.

Sally Sixsmith at St James’s Primary School has brought together 18 schools to raise cash through various activities and events for Nepalese-based charity Classroom in the Clouds.

The charity has been going since 2007 and it aims to improve the prospects of youngsters living in rural areas of Nepal through education by using donations to build new classrooms and to sponsor teachers.

So far St James’s Primary has raised more than £10,000 through various activities including sponsored treks in the schools grounds, non-uniform days and a sponsored sky dive by a member of staff.

Children at Gigmill Primary School in Norton have also raised more than £1,000 through a non-uniform day, selling wristbands and a sponsored run by a member of staff.

Money raised by schools across Dudley will be used to sponsor a female teacher and then the long-term aim is to build a four-classroom school in a remote Himalayan village.

The project also aims to establish a teacher exchange programme, giving two Nepalese teachers chance to experience school life in England in June 2017.

Mrs Sixsmith was inspired to support Classrooms in the Clouds after meeting mountain guide Dawa Geljen Sherpa, who founded the charity, when she took on a sponsored trek in the Nepalese Himalayas in 2014.

She said the project has been "truly changing children's lives" and added: “I’m lucky enough to teach in a country where every child has a right to an education and I am proud that children in our schools are passionate about helping those that aren’t as fortunate as themselves.

“This project also gives us the opportunity for our children to learn about life in Nepal and in turn for Nepalese children to learn about our way of life."

Councillor Ian Cooper, Dudley's cabinet member for children’s services, has praised the project which is also being supported by Gig Mill, Bromley Hills, Caslon, Cradley, Crestwood Park, Foxyards, The Glynne, Greenfield, Lapal, Lutley, Netherbrook, Olive Hill, Pedmore, Peter’s Hill, The Straits, Woodside and Wren’s Nest.

He added: “I am delighted children in our schools have been inspired to raise funds to give children in rural Nepal the best possible start in life.”

Mrs Sixsmith and a colleague are set to return to Nepal later this year to help train local teachers in advance of the exchange programme and she said: "If anyone is interested in supporting the project, I would urge people to get in touch with me via the school.”

Anyone wishing to get involved or make a donation can call St James’s Primary School on 01384 818810.

For more information about the charity go to www.classroomsintheclouds.org