We had such a wonderful time learning, laughing, sightseeing, and making memories with our friends from La Réunion and Albacete!

A group of students and staff members from two of our partner schools – IES Andrés Vandelvira in Albacete, Spain, and Collège Saint Leu, La Chaloupe in La Réunion, France – spent a week here at King’s with some of our Year 9 students and their families, from June 22nd-29th.

The exchange visit was the sixth of its kind, and the final stage of the Erasmus+ project, entitled ‘The Village’, which has involved 72 students from the three schools over the last three academic years!

King’s secured funding from the European Commission and British Council in 2020 to deliver ‘The Village’ – a collaborative project designed to develop cultural awareness and social interaction, in order to create a real context to enhance students’ language skills.

Mrs Finn, Head of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) at King’s, said: “For this exchange visit, the focus was on ‘education’ and ‘innovation’. On the first day of the exchange, students were given a tour of King’s. When visiting the Junior School, they met some Year 7 pupils and they popped into their lesson to help them practise their language skills! Our visitors also took part in an Ely Scheme lesson, which put their teamwork and communication skills to the test. Whilst all Year 9 pupils here at King’s have this lesson on a weekly basis, it was a completely new experience for our exchange partners. After being given a flavour of the opportunities on offer here at King’s, all the Erasmus pupils were ready to start their project work.

“Pupils from all three schools worked collaboratively to create an innovative educational curriculum for ‘The Village’, taking into consideration the different life skills that they deemed to be essential for future successes in life. Students worked extremely well together, communicating in English, French, and Spanish, and helping each other to coin the correct phrase or improve each other’s pronunciation. On the final day, each participant within the group delivered their part of the presentation in their native language – and the language that they were learning (English, French, or Spanish). It was magical to see how much more confident the pupils had become at speaking in a foreign language in front of a large audience, since their exchange trips to Albacete in February and La Réunion in April.

“Another educational focus for this Erasmus+ exchange was for pupils to create a new type of food packaging for their ‘Village’ that did not involve plastic. This project required them to work creatively, and to take into consideration the concepts of circular economy and ecology that they had discussed in their weekly Erasmus sessions in their own countries ahead of the trip. In a relatively short period of time, the pupils produced some inventive concepts and excellently written outcomes.

“In addition to working on ‘The Village’ project, we took our exchange friends on cultural visits and day trips to give them a taste of what life is like here in the UK. In Ely, we visited Ely Cathedral’s Octagon Tower, and enjoyed a cream tea at the Almonry Tearooms. In London, we went up the London Eye, did a river cruise on the Thames, watched the guards outside Buckingham Palace, and walked around the West End. Closer to home, we visited the beautiful Anglesey Abbey with its spectacular rose garden and had a picnic in the park, and we went punting in Cambridge with some former King’s Ely pupils as our guides! It was a phenomenal week and we felt proud to share our cultural heritage and historical sites with our visitors.

“An important part of the exchange was to widen the horizons of the pupils involved, and enable them to form new friendships and experience life in a different country. All six teachers involved in the Ely exchange visit (myself, Ms Paricio Torrijos, Madame Léturmy, Madame Clain, Senor Martínez Cabezas, and Senora Montero Harto) would like to thank our wonderful Year 9 families for their hospitality. The Erasmus pupils were all very well looked after, and enjoyed their time in the UK hugely – thank you for welcoming them into your home!

“Due to Brexit, this will sadly be our final Erasmus+ exchange. However, this project has undoubtedly strengthened our bond with our partner schools in Albacete and La Réunion, and so it is not ‘Adiós’ or ‘Adieu’, but ‘Hasta Luego’ and ‘Au Revoir’!”

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