Children at Upton Juniors in Broadstairs have been sharing their school life with youngsters from Italy.
The group from Annalena Tonelli middle school in Forlì, a city in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, settled in well during the week-long stay and the visitors were partnered with a boy and girl ‘Upton Buddy’ as they experienced life in an English school first-hand.
The visit is part of the ongoing Immersion in English programme successfully run in secondary and primary education by Broadstairs English Centre, with part of the Italian group of 10 to 13 year olds also spending time at Chatham and Clarendon House Grammar School in Ramsgate.
At Upton the children were partnered with a boy and girl ‘buddy’ for their stay and they saw life in an English school up close, observing and taking part in a range of lessons, sharing similar and contrasting experiences of each other’s lives, enjoying games at break time and sharing lunch with their new classmates.
Deputy Head of School Dave Walker said the ‘buddies’ play an important role in looking after their visitors and helping them with their English speaking.
He added: “The children also played together across the week and many friendships were formed, not just between ‘buddies’, but within the school as a whole. On World Book Day our ‘buddies’ were able to share their favourite books, while the Italian students were able to help the Year 4 pupils who were finding out about Italy as part of their Roman topic.”
Head of School Darci Arthur highlighted the value of the visit. She said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Italian group. It is an important initiative to share culture and our pupils benefit massively from the opportunity to learn a new language and find out more about people from a different country first hand.
”They made friends and learnt about each other – it was such a positive experience. Prior to the Covid pandemic we had welcomed pupils from China and the Czech Republic into our school community with great benefits for all.”
The leader of the visiting group Mrs Turchi said: “It was a great experience for our students and for us teachers. We discovered different ways of developing a school and we now go back home with new ideas for the future – thank you to the staff and Broadstairs English Centre for making this happen.”
During their stay through the BEC, the Italian party also explored historic Broadstairs, spent time in Canterbury finding out about its heritage around the city and at the cathedral, enjoyed time in London and took in Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.
They also enjoyed a range of activities including creating movies on their computer tablets and taking part in martial arts sessions.
Andy Somers, Broadstairs English Centre immersion schools co-ordinator, said: “Immersion is the key – the longer children spend in another culture, the easier it becomes for them to familiarise themselves with the English education system and the way the school is run, the area in which they are staying and the people they meet on a regular basis.
“It is a real breakthrough and it is an important lesson in life for all the pupils involved – you cannot put a value on the importance of these joint educational experiences, in the short-term and in later life.”
Recent BEC immersion projects locally have also included parties from Panama, Colombia and Spain with more visits planned for Upton Juniors and Chatham and Clarendon House.