Last month, Mr Prescott and Mrs Rodríguez took a group of slightly nervous Year 10 pupils to live and study for a week with their partner class in a school in Cognac. There was much nervous laughing and wondering in the coach from Bordeaux to Cognac, then when we arrived at the school gates Madame Sauquet and Madame Faye greeted us enthusiastically before starting the calling-out of names.  Actually, the meeting of the exchange partners wasn’t nearly as worrying as everyone had feared; there was some nervousness at first, but all the French hosts and their families were so welcoming and friendly that nerves had pretty much disappeared by the second day!  The French school kindly received us all with a fruit juice reception and speeches from their Headmaster, and on one day the school dining room prepared a typical regional meal for everyone.

Our French hosts had also organised a trip to visit the famous transporter bridge in Rochefort, as part of our joint DT project on bridges, and we had our picnic that day in the park next to the famous rope factory and not far from the beautifully rebuilt “Hermione”, a cutter that has already had one transatlantic voyage.  The weekend was peppered with all sorts of activities arranged by our generous host families – Marcus was even taken to Bordeaux to watch an international rugby match, followed by lunch at the Cité du Vin!

Our Warminster pupils participated in lots of lessons, from History, Geography through to a DT lesson where we worked on translating bridge terminology, French, Latin, and of course helping out in one or two English lessons. 

As per our tradition, we took half an hour in one lunchtime to introduce our French friends to some of the finest English junk food, such as crisps and chocolate biscuits, and that session culminated in them being introduced to Marmite.  Someone might have introduced it as chocolate spread, which would explain the expressions of shock and horror on many faces when the flavour fully developed on their palates…

By the end of the week statements like “I think the exchange should be two weeks long” and “If I say I’ve left my phone behind, can I go and fetch it and so miss the plane home?” were being heard.  This is a fairly good gauge of the success of this year’s exchange.

Mrs Rodríguez