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Haverhill schools Castle Manor Academy and Samuel Ward Academy welcome peers from Notre Dame College in Pont-Saint-Esprit as cross-Channel links develop





It is hoped that a first ever visit to the two secondary schools in Haverhill by 38 students from a French school will be the first major step towards creating long-lasting links between the three schools.

The group of 14 and 15-year-old students and three teachers from Notre Dame College in Haverhill’s twin town of Pont-Saint-Esprit spent a day in Haverhill last Tuesday.

The visit saw the students spend a morning sharing lessons with Year ten students in Haverhill – half of them at Samuel Ward Academy and the rest at Castle Manor Academy.

Members of the Haverhill Town Twinning Association committee with students and teachers from Castle Manor and Samuel Ward academies and Notre Dame College in Pont-Saint-Esprit, France, at Haverhill Arts Centre.Contributed picture
Members of the Haverhill Town Twinning Association committee with students and teachers from Castle Manor and Samuel Ward academies and Notre Dame College in Pont-Saint-Esprit, France, at Haverhill Arts Centre.Contributed picture

They then got to tour Haverhill Arts Centre, were treated to a screening of Wonka, with a free drink and popcorn and had some fish and chips from Benny’s Bar-B-Q while visiting The Royal Exchange pub on High Street, before returning to Coulsdon in south London, where they were staying for four nights.

The visit to Suffolk was arranged as part of a mission to forge the links between the schools, one involving not just the schools but Haverhill Town Twinning Association (HTTA) and the Pont-Saint-Esprit Twin Towns Association.

Emilie Andreone, a teacher of English at Notre Dame College, said: “The best thing for me would be that we can host families in France and families here can host us and that would be the top thing that we could do with the twin towns committee because I know, in France, and here as well, some families don’t have the money to pay for a trip because it is quite expensive.

“One of the teachers told me that some of the students have never been anywhere else because of that problem so If we can build many links we can host each other and make friends.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. It is really difficult for us to find English speaking pen pals for our students.”

When the Notre Dame students return to France, said Emilie, they will have a first-hand experience of sampling a different culture and language and of meeting people of their own age in another country that they can share and recall.

She added: “They are experiencing it and when you experience it, you learn, that’s the thing. For them, it is concrete. It’s not a dream, it’s real.

“I think its great for the children to be here.”

Headteachers Vanessa Whitcombe (Castle Manor) and Andy Hunter (Samuel Ward) said: “We were delighted to welcome the students and give them an insight into our education system.

“For our students, it gave them a valuable opportunity to ask questions and integrate with students from another country.

“It was mutually beneficial and hopefully something we can do more of in the future.”

After the visit the HTTA thanked Sara Marsh and all arts centre staff, Elena Kitsis and staff at Benny’s and Dionne and Brian Walford and their staff at the Royal Exchange.