Thurrock’s primary school children are increasing their links with the continent thanks to a partnership being developed by the council and the le Var region of France.
Seventeen Thurrock teachers visited le Var (near Toulon) over half term as the second phase of the partnership that started in October 2009, when eight French teachers visited Thurrock.
The aim is to develop links between the schools and children of the two regions and encourage them to learn each other’s language and culture.
Children have already made contact through exchanges of emails, letters and gifts. The latest visit enabled teachers to develop school partnerships still further and also to brush up on their own language skills.
Andy Seaford, from Little Thurrock Primary, said: ”It was a fantastic experience and did wonders for my French. The children I teach are very excited to be communicating with youngsters of their own age in another part of the world.”
Orsett Primary’s Lola Olajide was struck by the basic difference of approach to education in France.
“The French style of education is very teacher-led in contrast to ours, which puts an emphasis on collaboration,” she said. “I was very interested to see the importance the French teachers place on handwriting, which may have something to do with the fact that their schools have many fewer computers.”
Yolande Simmons of Abbots Hall says she has already seen the benefits of the direct link with France building bonds and friendships between the partner schools, saying: “This is a real opportunity to develop our children’s understanding of different cultures and to challenge their sometimes stereotyped view of other people.”
The organisation and hospitality of the French teachers, led by Anne Bérenger, was outstanding. The British Council funded the visit.
Thurrock primary children have made big strides in learning French and Spanish since 2006 and the Thurrock-le Var partnership will be a big motivation to push their learning further.