Belper School values its links with European schools and every year educational exchange visits take place.
These visits, where students spend a few days with their host families, offer opportunities to practise language skills and engage with a different social culture. Combine that with some exciting visits to local places of interest, and there is a great deal to be gained from the total experience.
It also opens the door to reciprocal visits where students play host to their European peers and show them our local places of interest. The recent Spanish exchange was with a small school in the centre of Valencia and this was its second year. Forty students took this travel opportunity, visiting the Biopark Zoo, which houses animals from Africa, and the Oceonografic Aquarium, which is the largest in Europe.
They also had a Spanish lesson in school and were welcomed at Valencia’s town hall by the local education minister. Following the visit there was a report in an online Valencian newspaper.
Two students, Sophie Hext and Matilda Rowell, have provided a translation, which is, in itself, a testament to their language skills.
Valencia is committed to educational exchanges to strengthen links with European countries, and welcomed 40 students and two teachers from the UK. The councillor of education, Emilio del Toro, reminded the students that the exchange would help them understand cultures and customs different to their own, and “help us become more tolerant, responsible, and caring in different environments”.
The title of the exchange was ‘City and Nature’ and was designed to help students acquire positive attitudes at the same time as improving linguistic competency.
Emilio del Toro expressed his admiration for the work of the teachers involved, praising their interest in shared educational experiences.
He urged students to enjoy their stay in Valencia “while you practise the immersion in another language and learn the historical and artistic heritage of Valencia, becoming authentic ambassadors of your city”. Earlier in the year the Spanish students came to Belper where they took part in team building exercises as well as visiting Sudbury Hall’s Museum of Childhood and Alton Towers.
They also asked Belper people some questions about the local history and went to Crich and Cromford to learn more about the Derbyshire environment. Head teacher Martyn Cooper said: “The exchange is a fine opportunity for an individual to experience something completely different.”
By Joan Hardy