The 22nd April 2015 saw the second visit from the Jean Mermoz school who are based in Faches-Thumesnil, just outside of Lille in the north of France. The twinning between the two schools dates back to 2012 when Mr Purslow, the Director of Languages came to Whitley Academy and started the connection with the French school. Since then, the French students and their teachers have visited Whitley Academy twice, once in 2013 and again now in 2015; for their part Whitley Academy visited Lille in February 2014 and a reciprocal visit is planned for next year to continue collaborative studies on a range of subjects from the environment to World War 1 & 2 commemorations.
The exchange complements the International Status of the Academy with existing links with schools in Japan, France and South Africa.
Throughout the day, pupils chatted, at first nervously, and then began to form friendships as the day progressed, with activities ranging from a welcome assembly and team games (Rounders – not common in France)to a walking tour of Coventry and free time with their pen-pals to play games, to find out more about eachother and to exchange gifts.
More information about the college in Lille and the exchange between our two colleges can be found on the Whitley Academy website.
The following is how the day went in the eyes of Joe Lea 8A - student reporter.
09:00 – Fifty of our years 9 and 10 students anxiously await the arrival of the students from Jean Mermoz school. The students are due to arrive in school some minutes ago, but they haven't. We are worried.
09:35 – Our pen pals finally arrive and soon get settled and reunite with their respected friends from Whitley Academy. The teachers of the two schools (JM and WA) then distribute the food to the many tables in our school canteen. The healthy breakfast bites are soon disappeared from the big tables. The bright green room is now full of noise and laughter.
10:30 – The assembly starts, slightly later than planned and the exchange begins!
Mrs. Allen - our Principal - starts the session by welcoming the students from Jean Mermoz School. Then teachers from JM School receive a painting by an ex-student from our school. The painting is called ‘London’. It has London's Big Ben with a red phone box and bus. The red is a main colour in London as you will see it on busses, tube trains and many other places.
Then Mr. Purslow talks to us about the link that we were establishing today in our school today and spoke about previous times where the two schools had linked.
Most of what was said had to be translated by the teachers of JM school to make sure our pen pals understand everything completely.
11:00 – It is time for the tour around our school. We are very proud to show our JM pen pals the newest addition to our school – the new Sports changing rooms.
While on the tour the students of JM tell us about their favourite subjects and what they want to do when they are older. A Whitley pupil chats to me that his new pen pals in his group want to be doctors, lawyers and other high-end jobs.
11:30 – We begin to congregate back into the Auditorium ready for the next session. All of us – students from both schools- are mixed into four groups and go with respective teachers to their rooms.
11:40 – The classes get under way! The students from Mr Purslow’s and Miss Williamson’s groups both do a mix-and-match of Coventry’s attractions and then play small games (Noughts-and-Crosses and Guess who). Miss Sloyan’s group compare their schools in smaller groups and come with different ideas to stay in contact when the students return to France J
However; Mrs. Nguyen’s group does something completely different from the other three groups. They play a group game where one person from the group gives out hints about a celebrity / sports / foods and the opposite group has to guess what the clues are about. If they get it right, they are rewarded with points. The two groups take turns and speak in both English and French. It is interesting to see how our students want to talk to their JM pen pals: they use ‘Google translation’ J. In the end group A wins and gets a package of chocolate biscuits!
12:30 – Going outside!
The JM students are amazed at the field we have for our PE lessons.
We also tell them about our after-school PE activities. You could see the jealousy in their eyes J Who would not?
There are two PE teachers (Miss Sloyan and Mr Cremin) with the Year 10 helpers on the field. It is very sunny with fresh wind. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities.
The JM students form three groups and have a go at playing Rounders. You could hear students’ shouting and laughing! Such a nice atmosphere!
13:40 – A late lunch for all of us. We all get changed and meet up in the school canteen. The food is provided in a buffet with sandwiches, sausage rolls and similar items that you would often see on a buffet at a party.
14:30 – City-tour time!
We, the Whitley Academy students, will be tour-guides for our pen pals in the afternoon.
Unfortunately the JM school coach broke down due to a battery issue. Mr Purslow and Miss Sloyan decide to provide the “shuttle mini-bus” service for around 60 students.
We take our new friends around the Cathedral ruins, the Lady Godiva statue and the Coventry Transport Museum. We are then given one hour free to take our pen pals around the shops.
17:00 Time to say good-bye!
All of us meet up in the Broadgate Square.
We have such a nice and busy day. Obviously it is not easy to say goodbye to each other at the end of the day.
Jo of 9B brings along a present that his pen pal gives him. Unluckily his pen pal couldn’t attend the day due to private health issues. Jo asks for some photos to be taken so that he could show them to his pen pal. He is very proud of this!
That’s it for now. See you in our next project.