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School revives foreign exchange visits

Posted onPosted on 4th Feb

A group of students from the South of France are due to spend a week in the area with local families after Shirebrook Academy revived the tradition of school exchange visits.

Ten 13 and 14-year-olds from a school in Toulon are due to visit the town at the end of March and stay with host families, with 10 Shirebrook students then due to fly out to France in May.

Exchange visits used to be a common occurrence at UK schools but have fallen out of favour, and now only 39% of British state schools organise them, according to figures from the British Council.

The academy wanted to revive them to support its modern languages curriculum as well as its broader co-curricular aims of widening horizons and giving students experiences that enrich their lives and prepare them for life after school.

At the same time, it has also revived the penpal tradition, with 10 Shirebrook students exchanging handwritten letters with students attending a school in Murcia in Spain.

The exchange students, who attend the private Externat Bon Accueil school, will spend their time attending Shirebrook Academy in the mornings and taking trips in the afternoons.

The visit has been organised by James Edwards, head of modern foreign languages at the academy, who said: “I’m thrilled that we are able to offer this trip.

“I remember from trips I took as a teenager to Germany that feeling of being thrown in at the deep end and being forced to use your language skills.

“I learned an extraordinary amount about the way people live and their culture and it definitely inspired me to continue studying languages.

“This is a wonderful chance for our students to widen their experience of the world.”