Shirebrook students star in foreign trips video

Shirebrook Academy student Keegan Darby being interviewed by the British Council for a video promoting foreign exchange trips.
Shirebrook Academy student Keegan Darby being interviewed by the British Council for a video promoting foreign exchange trips.

Students at a Shirebrook school are to star in a new video urging teachers to take more young people on overseas trips.

The Shirebrook Academy pupils have been filmed talking about their trip to Toulon in France to stay with 11 local students and their families.

Shirebrook Academy principal Mark Cottingham being interviewed by the British Council for a video promoting foreign exchange trips.

Shirebrook Academy principal Mark Cottingham being interviewed by the British Council for a video promoting foreign exchange trips.

The trip came after the French students visited Shirebrook in the first leg of what is thought 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.

Mark Cottingham, principal of the Common Lane 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.”

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.

One of the students interviewed by the British Council was Ellie Cheeseman.

The 14-year-old said: ““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, aged 13, said: “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, academy head of modern foreign languages, were invited to Westminster to talk to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages about the school’s foreign exchange trip.

The meeting 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.