A Shirebrook school’s first-ever exchange visit from French students has been hailed a success after they spent a week of sight-seeing, language learning and forging close friendships with their UK counterparts.
Eleven 13 and 14-year-olds from Toulon, in the south of France, spent the week living with a group of language students at Shirebrook Academy.
Ten Shirebrook students will make the return trip to Toulon in May.
The exchange was organised to support the school’s modern languages curriculum as well as widen the students’ horizons and give them life-enriching experiences.
They also accompanied them to school every day and went on day trips to local attractions, including Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and Alton Towers.
Among the students who took part in the trip was Joshua Browne, 14, who opened up his house to French student called Clovis, 13, for the week.
He said: “We became good friends during the week and he was almost a member of the family by the end.
“We had a few misunderstandings with language but he helped me to understand the correct French pronunciation and how to speak it properly.
“I enjoyed the trip to Alton Towers the most because it showed the teamwork and togetherness of all of the students, but although there were some similarities between us, the trip made me realise how different our cultures are.”
Fellow student Beth Warren, 13, who spent the week playing host to two French students, Jade and Fanny, both 13, added: “At first it took a while for them to settle down but soon it felt as though that they’d been part of my life and family for more than just a day or two.
“I noticed how eager the French students were to partake in discovering cultural British dinners and breakfasts, like fish and chips, carvery and crumpets.”
James Edwards, head of modern foreign languages at Shirebrook Academy, said: “There were plenty of high points during the week but as strange as it sounds, the biggest single sign of success were the tears that were shed when the French students had to say goodbye.
“It’s only a minority of state schools who run foreign exchange visits and there was a tremendous amount of hard work needed to get our exchange off the ground, but we’re thrilled at how well it went
“Our students have learned about another culture and it’s really improved their French, so they’re all very much looking forward to travelling to Toulon.”