After hosting 23 English pupils from Humphrey Perkins in Marans last March, the Collège Marie Eustelle set off to Barrow for 6 days in June with 45 pupils. This was made possible thanks to the Twinning Association, whose members hosted extra children. This was the first time Marie Eustelle had been involved in an exchange with England for as long as any of us could remember.
Very few of the French pupils had been to England previously with their parents and no one had stayed with an English family, or been to an English school. Despite some fears at the beginning about not being understood or being able to understand, everybody was absolutely delighted with their experience. The French and English pupils got on very well together and some of them intend to go back again for holidays later. We spent two half days at school and explored other ways of teaching and learning – with tablets for instance, which are not yet used in French schools, but should be later this year.
On the first day we spent the afternoon at Beaumanor doing team-building activities in the sun in order to get to know each other again. The French had to learn and use some new English vocabulary in order to communicate with the English pupils and do amusing things together. On the next day, we went to Leicester where we admired The Foxes’ stadium and did some shopping. But the highlight of the day was the visit to Curve theatre and the performance of ‘The 39 Steps’ in the evening. The French pupils had been prepared and had seen the film at school in Marans, which helped them understand the story. Everybody agreed that it was absolutely brilliant.
We also spent a day in the Black Country Museum, where we learned about the hard work down in the mines and the way people lived in the past. At the weekend many of us took part in the celebrations in Barrow for the Queen’s birthday. On Monday we sadly had to say goodbye before ending our visit by spending the day in London, which was a great experience too.
We would like to thank Humphrey Perkins’ staff very warmly for their kindness. We felt very welcome at school. We are eager to come again next year and want to strengthen the links between the two schools. We are also very grateful to the Barrow Twinning Association for all they did for us. When we started talking about the project last autumn, the French children were so enthusiastic that we had far more French pupils wanting to be involved than English ones, which was a problem with hosting them. But the Twinning families came to us and offered to open their houses to host sometimes up to 4 pupils in the same place. This way we could take 14 extra pupils with us. They organised fantastic activities for them and gave a lot of energy to make it just perfect.
We are already planning the next trips for 2016/2017 and are very much looking forward to achieving a second success with Season 2!