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French Exchange

Nos chers amis français!

Part one of the exchange saw our French counterparts arrive on Sunday 22nd March, where they were greeted and treated to a selection of some of Nottinghamshire’s finest delicacies. With everyone happily paired up, we went on our merry way in anticipation of two action packed weeks on either side of the channel.

Monday gave our French counterparts the opportunity to experience English education first hand – special thanks to all teachers brave/happy/willing enough to welcome them into their lessons and for giving them a fantastic taste of Toot Hill School!

On Tuesday we travelled to Nottingham, where the students needed to overcome nerves (and the morning city rush) to get some important information on World War One perceptions amongst the ever understanding natives of Nottingham. Their reward? KFC, Costa, Pastries or Primark (according to taste). Suitably shopped and refuelled, it was time for ice skating – with the anticipated range of grace for all to see!

The sun shone on all on Wednesday as we went off to Alton Towers, with the students eager to enjoy everything the rides had to offer – whether catching some ‘Air’ or forcing a ‘Smiler’, it was a fun day for all – finalised with some interesting, roller-coaster induced hair-dos (and don’ts) on show for the group photos at the end of the day.

An early start and the chance of rain didn’t dampen spirits for Thursday’s visit to London – the Imperial War museum, boat touring and Madame Tussaud’s beckoned… little did we know fate would grant the opportunity for some unexpected excitement and celeb-spotting (thanks to our coach driver for this!). After the Imperial War gave us a taste of things to come, it was time for the Thames, where the brave among us withstood the rain to enjoy London’s sights out on deck. Our final London stop saw selfies galore at Madame Tussaud’s (no day being complete without a selfie count in the double digits!). We arrived back in Nottingham tired, but in high spirits, with plans afoot for Fish ‘n’ Chips Bingham style.

An incredibly early start on Friday had us bidding farewell to our new friends. Thankfully, it wasn’t goodbye but ‘à bientôt’…


… which brings us onto ‘Part deux: En envahi la France’.

Date: Sunday, April 26 2015

Time: 400 hours

Location: Toot Hill School

Action plan for the day: Cross the channel, reach Longwy, France, SLEEP!

Another early start for all, and our turn for the 13 hour journey ‘à l’étranger’. Easy sailing over calm waters saw us all arrive in high spirits, with French friends eagerly awaiting our arrival. Bienvenue chez les Longwy’ais!

On Monday, it was our turn to experience French education first hand, with the daunting prospect of a day from 8am – 6pm!

Into the fray we went ready for what come may – heading off to a range of lessons hoping to take new knowledge away.

After BTS came French and with it Baudelaire, Mr Adams especially fearing a distinct lack of flair (please spare a thought for our brave teacher, facing his personal <galère>).

2 hours later, and on s’était amusés bien – of French poetry we’d certainly all become fans. A talented poet now born? We have to say no – but, hey, at the very least I’ve given it a go!). Apologies to all for this!

Tuesday was a World War One fact finding and discovery mission, as we headed off towards the border and Verdun. A more sombre, informative day was in the offing, with much to see, experience and learn about World War One. Guided visits around trenches and forts, cemetery visits, films and museums gave everyone an opportunity to learn and reflect on one of the main aspects of the trip, and left us all with plenty to reflect upon.

Wednesday (Nancy in Nancy day) saw yet another change in pace – after all ‘variety is the spice of life!’ First port of call was Alain Batt chocolatier, with the opportunity to learn about all things sweet (and have a decent taste too!). Body and mind well nourished, we made our way into a sunny Nancy, where souvenirs, shopping, and presents were the priority.

The Afternoon presented the perfect opportunity for a bit of ‘get your own back’ – Laser Tag style! Katie ‘Dead Eye’ Pownall taking the plaudits here having dominated the rest of the group on ‘the battlefield’. Special note also goes to Mrs Myers as ‘most improved player’, vowing to come back stronger next time.

Thursday witnessed a return to school, and this episode of Made in Longwy was sponsored by the letter P, for ‘partners, postcards, peace-posters, projects and plans’ as the students worked (almost) seamlessly with their partners to write postcards to a selection of teachers, produce peace time posters and related projects (including an amazing ‘shells and trenches’ games – well done Nicolas 2 and Lydia!). The plans? A goodbye meal as a group, and hopefully some more for return visits to see new friends in the future…

…and there we have it – finally at Friday and the return journey. Fond farewells, 13 hours of road, prizes, ferries and memories. Merci Longwy – et à la prochaine fois! 

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