Shirebrook students asked to star in new video promoting exchange visits

Academy principal Mark Cottingham being interviewed for the video.
Academy principal Mark Cottingham being interviewed for the video.

Students at Shirebrook Academy are set to star in a new video which is being put together to encourage teachers across the UK to take more young people on overseas trips.

Students at a Shirebrook school are set to star in a new video which is being put together to encourage teachers across the UK to take more young people on overseas trips.

Student Keegan Darby, 13, was among those interviewed for the video.

Student Keegan Darby, 13, was among those interviewed for the video.

The teenagers, who attend Shirebrook Academy, have been filmed talking about their experiences earlier this year, when they travelled to Toulon in the South of France to stay with 11 local students and their families.

The trip took place after the French students had themselves visited Shirebrook in the first leg of what’s believed to be the Academy’s first foreign exchange visit for years.

Both trips were a huge success and the school, which hopes to take more students to France when it runs its exchange programme again, was asked by the British Council to appear in a video designed to promote overseas schools’ trips.

Currently, only 30 per cent of state schools run foreign exchange programmes, while safeguarding concerns, the cost and the fear of being overwhelmed by the administration of trips are putting other schools off organising them.

The British Council offers funding to schools to help them finance trips and also offers a helping hand to lighten the load for organisers.

Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy, said: “The British Council asked us to appear in the video because it wants to promote the ways in which it can help schools to run overseas trips and we had no hesitation in agreeing to take part.

“There are so many positives that have come out of both trips, especially when it comes to self-confidence. Our students learned an enormous amount about themselves, simply because they were placed in someone else’s home in an unfamiliar town in an unfamiliar country and as a result had no choice but to develop their social and language skills.

“We are still seeing how the trips have changed them, as well as broadened their knowledge of the world and other cultures.

"That is vital learning and I believe all schools should be in a position to offer the same kind of educational opportunities.”

READ MORE: Shirebrook students hail French exchange visit at life-changing experience.

One of the students interviewed by the British Council was 14-year-old Ellie Cheeseman.

She said: “I really enjoyed the experience of being filmed for the British Council.

"It was nerve-wracking at first but helped to build my confidence.

“It was great to reminisce about all of the memories we made on the exchange and we remembered all of the good times we shared.”

Fellow student Keegan Darby, 13, added: “Being filmed for an organisation like the British Council was a first time experience for me.

“Although it was a tough decision to know exactly what to say in front of the camera, it brought back lots of good memories from the exchange and made me want to do it again in the future.”

Earlier this year, Mr Cottingham and James Edwards, head of modern foreign languages at Shirebrook, were invited to Westminster to speak about the school’s foreign exchange trip during a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on modern languages.

The meeting, which was chaired by Baroness Coussins, was organised to look at the challenges teachers face in organising international exchanges and the ways in which the decline in overseas trips can be reversed.