Politicians may be starting to draw up battle lines over the Great Britain EU membership referendum but at Whyteleafe School recently, it was a case of vive l’entente cordiale as the school paid host to 54 Year Six pupils from the École Ferdinand Buisson in the town of La Riche in the Loire Valley.
Over the last two years, pupils at the two schools have been in regular communication as penpals, and finally they had a chance to meet up when the French pupils visited the English school. Highlights of the day included the visitors sitting in on lessons, an assembly
with Whyteleafe children from all the year groups performing in French, a traditional English lunch of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, sponge pudding and custard and perhaps most encouragingly for the future of cross-Channel relations, badminton and football matches – with England winning the latter 4-0.
“It was a hugely successful day, and educational on so many different levels,” said Fiona Sharp, the teacher who organised the event. “In a world of instant communication, the penpal scheme may seem old fashioned but I think it has much more depth and gives the children far more of an insight into people’s lives in other countries.
“We did a lot of studying about things to do with France before their arrival, but having so many of the French pupils come to our school has really brought the whole project to life for them in a way no amount of letters or classroom discussions can do,” she continued.
“Our children were really caught up by the whole project, and it showed with the amount of effort that they put into the assembly. I know our visitors really appreciated what was done for them, and it makes us all the more enthusiastic about maintaining the bonds between our schools for years to come.”
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