We are determined to provide our children with the broadest education possible. As part of that commitment, from the beginning of 2017, we began to develop an international aspect to our school curriculum.
Year 3 Link
In the first instance, this involved our Year 3 class enjoying a link with the Year 3 class at the Ecole Saint Anne in Hazebrouck, France. In 2017 and 2018, 30 children and 8 staff from Saint Anne enjoyed day visits to St Peter’s. The French and English children worked together on a range of art, DT and computing projects, and firm friendships were established! Because of the time difference working against us, (we would have to leave at an extremely early hour in order to get to Hazebrouck to make sufficient use of the school day) we have yet to complete a day trip to Saint Anne ourselves. However, the link continues and we will play host to the children and staff of Saint Anne again this year.
However, in 2018, we did initiate our first day trip to the continent. On November 10th, children from Years 3-6, accompanied by staff, governors and parents, visited Ypres in Belgium. The visit coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War One. The children visited the WW1 museum in the Cloth Hall in Ypres, as well as the Menin Gate, where we laid a wreath to a member of Aylesford village whose name is inscribed on the monument. One of our children also laid a personal wreath in remembrance of a family member who is commemorated on the memorial. We then visited Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest commonwealth war cemetery in the world, as well as a smaller cemetery which contains the grave of another family member of one of our children. During the course of 2019-20, we will complete a second day trip to the World War One battlefields, when we travel to Arras and Vimy Ridge.
In 2018-19, the school began participating in the Erasmus project. Erasmus is an EU funded project, designed to develop greater co-operation and understanding amongst the people of Europe. It allows children to travel Europe to work with children from other countries, and all costs are met. There is no cost to either the school or parents. Hence, we are able to offer an incredibly powerful educational experience to our children, regardless of the family’s financial circumstances.
St Peter’s was one of four schools which worked together to submit a bid to the EU for a project called Live and Share. The four schools, St Peter’s and one from each of Belgium, France and Germany, wished to have our children visit each other’s countries. The goal was to have them work together in order to develop a greater understanding and friendship amongst a subsequent generation from four of the countries most affected by World War One. The bid was successful and hence 6 of our children and 2 of our teachers spent a week in Belgium, working with children at Sint Paulus school in Kortrijk, and 6 children from both the College Saint Michel in Nantes and the Gymnasium Kirchheim in Munich. We then hosted our partners in the UK – fish and chips proved extremely popular. Subsequently, 6 more of our children and 2 teachers flew to Nantes and spent a week there, again working with other children and staff from the partner schools. In November 2019 this project will conclude when a final 6 of our pupils fly to Munich to spend a week there in the final residential.
However, as this project ends another begins. We have been accepted onto a second Erasmus project. This one, which again involves Sint Paulus school in Belgium, also includes new partners in Austria, Spain, Poland and Romania. This project, entitled Steam, will involve our children and staff spending a week at each partner’s schools, just as before, but this time to look at how science and maths are taught across the continent. As always, the project is fully funded by the EU. Steam kicks off this October, when 6 pupils and 2 teachers will again spend a week in Kortrijk, Belgium. Trips to the remaining 4 partner countries will take place over 2020/21.
Erasmus offers an amazing educational experience to our children. We are one of very few primary schools in the UK which participates in this project. However, we see it as being an extremely powerful educational tool. Our children fly to other countries and spend a week working alongside children from across the continent. There are times when this can be scary for them. We take them far out of their comfort zones! But the effect on them is pronounced. All of the children involved grow in confidence and become more worldly. We await the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations to learn whether the school will be able to participate in any further projects. Because of our participation in two successful Erasmus projects, we are more likely to be successful in subsequent bids – if UK schools are permitted to continue in the Erasmus project. We hope to be able to offer this incredible educational opportunity to our children in the years to come.
We have altered our programme of residential stays from what was previously offered at St Peter’s. We now offer each residential to both Year 5 and 6 children. Having them go away together will foster greater connections between the two year groups. The annual residential trips alternate between one which is spent in the UK at an activity centre completing outdoor and adventurous learning, and one which is spent at KCC’s Hardelot centre in Northern France. Hence, from Year 5, the children get the chance to do both.
Hardelot is a wonderful centre and provides a base from which we can explore a little of France. The children visit a goat cheese farm and a snail farm, as well as a sweet factory. We visit French towns and the children get to see French life, as well as enjoying the facilities at Hardelot and the beach at Hardelot Plage.