Students visit France on cultural exchange

Kettering Science Academy pupils in France on the Comenius programme
Kettering Science Academy pupils in France on the Comenius programme

Students from a Kettering school have spent a week in France on international programme which promotes understanding between European countries.

Kettering Science Academy took advantage of the Comenius scheme, run by the British Council and designed to increase students’ understanding of different cultures and languages. A group of students from KSA were chosen by staff to take part in the programme, which has seen the Academy work closely with partner schools in Le Portalet School, France, and Gymnasium Balingen, Germany.

The students met up for a week in the Ardèche region of France, where KSA students stayed with host families in the medieval village of L’Argentière. The majority stayed with French students whom they had hosted during the first exchange trip to the UK last year.

The three schools were divided into teams made up of British, French and German students, and took part in a number of activities, including a canoeing descent of the Ardèche.

Students also spent time in school where they developed their language skills, blogged about their experiences and prepared for a presentation about Comenius at the end of the week. This special event, which was attended by parents, the local community, the head of the school district and the town mayor, included a speech in French by Year 9 student Joe Smallman.

French teacher Aine McAllister, who is leading the Comenius project at KSA, said the impact of the project was reflected in the students’ growing confidence. She added: “The school and local community were so welcoming that our students couldn’t have anything but a positive attitude towards Europe and learning languages, so it will enable them to have similar experiences in the future.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, their ability and confidence in speaking French improved. They were excited about how much more they could understand.”

Student Daniel Khumalo said: “I was a bit nervous before we went but by the end of the week, I felt good because I had bonded with my host family and I felt like I fit in. Being nervous just means you have to conquer your fears and I think I did that.

“Comenius has given us the chance to do a lot of new things. I think it’s important to mix with people in other countries so you get to understand other cultures and be part of them too.”

Lewis Pywell added: “One of the benefits of doing something like this is that you build up the confidence to go to other countries because of what you’ve achieved in France. As the week went on, I started using more French words. Comenius has given us a lot of great experiences and helped us to lose some of our fears.”

Next year, the Comenius group will visit Stuttgart in Germany to participate in a half marathon, in keeping with the project’s theme of sports and leadership.