After the sunny beaches of Malaga in March, we were greeted with a Winter Wonderland in Achim, near Bremen in Germany. Christmas lights were up, carols were playing and Christmas markets were in full swing – the only thing missing was a sprinkling of snow. Our host school had planned a varied, busy (and festive!) schedule for us, with time in school and on excursions.
The theme of this trip was volunteering opportunities and charity work. On Thursday the host pupils delivered some very interesting talks about volunteer work for young people in Germany – in Germany there is a government led organisation to help young people find a volunteer placement from 6 months to 18 months. This is a common step between A-Levels and university for many German young people. Our pupils will research what is available here in the Midlands and present that at our next meeting in Poland in March. On Friday we braved the cold and went into the town centre where we had a table at the Christmas market; each of the partner schools had produced items to sell to raise money for charity. Miss Starkey’s year 10 and 11 textiles classes had produced mobile phone holders with a British twist. We were very proud to be selling their products – the Dr Who holders went down especially well! Overall, 350€ was raised; the pupils decided this money would go to a local children’s cancer charity.
As well as spending time in school planning our next trip, the school had planned several visits for the visiting pupils – we were taken on a tour of the Mercedes-Benz factory and experienced weather from around the world at the “Klimahaus” (Climate House) museum in Bremerhaven. Our trip was rounded off with a trip to the local bowling alley – competition was fierce and national pride shone through as each country wanted to win! We witnessed some very energetic bowling styles, especially from the teachers taking part!
The next stop is Poland in March 2014, where we will be presenting the results of our research and learning about the skills that employers are looking for.
Link to the video on youtube.
After braving the freezing weather of Finland in January, our pupils were excited about heading to the Costa del Sol in March. They were envisaging balmy, sunny weather in Malaga, possibly with a trip to the beach. Leaving cold, wet England with great expectations, we were greeted with torrential rain! However, the welcome at our partner school IES Huelin was much warmer. Their teachers and pupils were so friendly and accommodating and had planned a busy programme for us.
The theme of this visit was employment opportunities and sporting events. On Thursday, the host Spanish pupils modelled how to research employment opportunities in your local area; our pupils will complete this research and members of the Comenius group will present their findings when we go to Germany in November. They also participated in a well-planned Economics experiment led by one of the Spanish teachers. On Friday, sports took centre stage and the pupils spent the morning orienteering before heading off to the beach for some games. Thankfully it was a bit warmer and drier by then! Saturday was spent with their host families, exploring the delights of Malaga.
There were hugs and tears at the airport when it was time to leave, and that was just Mr Williams! Friendships were formed and many promises of future visits were made. Our next trip is to Achim, Germany in November, where we will be selling mobile phone holders, made by our year 10
After the balmy weather of Sicily in November, we were plunged into the coldest, darkest winter weather in Tampere, Finland. Tampere often likens itself to the Manchester of Finland, albeit with slightly more snow! The hosts at the Tampere Lyseo, a sixth form college in the heart of the city were extremely welcoming and had planned an extensive programme for our pupils. The aim of this visit was to research the educational opportunities available in Tampere and the local area. Our teachers and pupils were surprised (and a little jealous!) to discover that education is completely free for all in Finland. Many courses at universities are taught in English, with no fees, giving our pupils something to think about for the future. With direct flights from Stansted to Tampere, it definitely is an option to consider when it comes to applying for further education.
Our pupils braved temperatures of -24C to visit the Tampere School of Forestry where they took us on a forest hike and then to a frozen lake. We had a “picnic” of tea/coffee and bread on the lake, but you had to be quick – within 20 minutes the milk had frozen; black coffees all round then! Next up was ice-swimming; roasting yourself in the sauna and then jumping into a frozen lake as many times as you could bear it! The pupils proved themselves much braver than the teachers who passed on this activity, with numerous excuses; not all of them believable!
Next stop is Malaga in March where our pupils will present educational opportunities in England and will lead a sporting event to raise money for a charity of each country’s choice: the money that we raise will go to Cancer Research.
After our students kindly hosted pupils from our partner schools in Finland, Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Cornwall at the beginning of the year, it was Sicily’s turn to welcome us to their school. Just after the Halloween holiday two members of our year 10 Comenius group, Lucy Wren and Kane Knight, travelled to the historic town of Palermo in Northern Sicily. We waved goodbye to cold, wet weather and were greeted with sun and temperatures of 20oC! Shorts and t-shirts were taken out of storage and worn with delight only for us to realise that the locals were in coats and scarves; autumn had already arrived for them! The first two days were spent at our partner school, the Liceo Classico (imagine an old-fashioned stone building overlooking a public square with a cathedral) with the other European members of the group. The local pupils modelled how to collect information about your home town and what is available for tourists; this included a visit to the local tourist office and a very informative talk by a local tour guide. Our pupils took note, as they will research and present what tourists can do in Stratford at the next meeting.
Before returning home, we were able to experience some of the wonders of Sicily we had learnt about from the tour guide. Bright and early on Saturday morning we headed off to the coastal town of Cefalù to get lost in the winding back streets of the old town, climb a mountain to see the ruins of an old monastery and paddle our toes in the sea.
Next stop: Finland in January. Better pack the woolly hats and gloves!