Our language exchange programmes with schools in Cognac, France and Zaragoza, Spain are highly successful and create the opportunity for our pupils to improve their languages by speaking to native speakers and learn about their culture first hand.

Recently, we have been successful in our application for an Erasmus+ grant from the European Commission for our collaborative work with our partner school in Cognac. Thanks to this grant there were several pupils from both countries who were able to participate in the exchange this year that would not have done otherwise. This meant a greater amount of pupils being able to share in multiple aspects of European cultural heritage, and these pupils will surely also become ambassadors for the breaking down of barriers between countries and also for the importance of language learning in the future.

When our French exchange pupils and their teachers arrived, they stepped off their coach into a sudden downpour of rain.  Horribly delayed and way past midnight on Friday 9th March, Mrs Rogers acknowledged it was not the best of starts. However, rather marvellously, despite not getting to bed until 1am many parents made it with their young French charges to our welcome breakfast on the Saturday morning.  It was lovely to see so many smiles and hear how well everyone had settled in and what their exciting plans were for the weekend.  Our wonderful Warminster parents offered such warm hospitality we forgot the cold unseasonal weather. 

Monday morning our French pupils completed Mrs Rodriquez’s famous Warminster Treasure Hunt around the School helped by Year 9 guides who did a fantastic job interacting with our French visitors.  Mrs Rogers then rounded off the day with a lesson on English slang which went down very well.  Tuesday the French pupils enjoyed a trip to Waitrose Cook School in Salisbury where they experienced a cooking demonstration. They learnt how to make Scotch eggs, Cornish pasties and fish pie all served with HP sauce, which judging by the huge quantities they purchased, will soon become de rigueur on the dinner tables of Cognac!

After this gastronomic delight we headed to Salisbury Cathedral. Once at the Cathedral we were treated to a workshop, where pupils got to create their own illuminated letter, then see the Magna Carta and the world’s oldest clock. Our guides were so knowledgeable and really engaged the pupils, many thanks to John who seemed almost sad at the end as Mme Faye wished him goodbye with a French hug. He summed up our trip by saying ‘well, what a lovely way to spend an afternoon’.  As we made our way back to the coach, the French teachers explored such words as ‘chilly’ and asked questions like ‘would you call this drizzle?’

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons were filled with a cooking experience at Warminster’s Cookykids.  Led by Fleur Harrison our pupils worked with their French partners to make scones and four different sandwiches, they then enjoyed all the fruits of their labours as they ate a very British afternoon tea (see twitter for photos).  The final trip our French students enjoyed was to Westcombe Dairy where they bought most of the shop out of their award-winning cheddar. 

Friday morning came around all too quickly and considering the amount of tissues we got through as we wished our French friends goodbye, it occurred to me how much nicer it is to say au revoir instead of goodbye.  Google Au revoir and you will see it says ‘goodbye until we meet again.’  We are sure the friendships our Year 10 pupils made this week will endure and the memories of this experience will last a lifetime.

And finally, some thank yous…

The French exchange at Warminster School is a success because it is a team effort.  Thank you to the catering department who provided many extra meals, the welcome breakfast and lovely packed lunches.  Mrs Rogers and her family who welcomed the French teachers and Warminster MFL department to her home for a lovely meal, then escorted them round Bath on Sunday.  Mrs Shanks who organised two special lessons in the EAL department. Mrs Harris who stepped in to run a drama workshop and provide a Year 13 performance of ‘The Crucible’ for pupils to watch. The boarding houses who took French pupils in and Mr Robertson who took them on the cinema trip.  All the fantastic teachers who had pupils in their lessons and made them feel part of the class and finally our parents who took the time to make our French students part of their family and look after them so well. 

Mrs Coldwell