Westlea Primary School in West Swindon has welcomed eighteen teachers from eight European countries, as well as half a dozen pupils, as part of the Comenius exchange programme.
Delegates travelled from as far as Greece, Hungary and Turkey, as well as Wales, Ireland and Scotland for a four day visit. On their first day at school they walked to the school from the DeVere Hotel at Shaw Ridge Leisure Park to be greeted by children wearing national costumes and holding flags of the different countries involved in the exchange.
Headteacher Suzanne Seaton said, “It’s part of a project that brings a group of European schools together looking at the history of the arts, including paintings, sculptures, monuments, music, and dance through the ages. The children research and then share information and teachers experience education systems and share good practice.
“Each project lasts for two years. This one is new but it’s the third that Westlea has been involved in. Our partner schools in Ireland, France and Spain in the last project came together to put together the new project which has drawn in new schools from across Europe. Our elements is fully financed by the British Council and no funding whatsoever comes from the school budget."
The visitors were delighted by the warm welcome which included being serenaded by all the whole school singing the Westlea Welcome specially written by music teacher and choir leader Sarah Sumner.
John Marshall, headteacher of Glasheen Boys School in Cork, Ireland said, "we had a lovely, warm welcome from Westlea. Our visit has been given a tremendous start."
Metin Savural from Ismir, Turkey, said, "it was an amazing welcome, a very nice surprise from all the children and teachers."
Mrs Seaton said, “We’ve been very excited and have preparing for the visit for weeks. We’re proud to present our wonderful school, its very special pupils and our beautiful country to the delegates. The children did brilliantly this morning to welcome our visitors.”
Also part of the welcoming party were teachers dressed up as key characters in English history including Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, Florence Nightingale, a youth as young William Shakespere and Mrs Seaton as the grand matriarch of the British Empire Queen Victoria.
The next exchange will see Westlea teachers travelling to their partner school in Turkey on 7 May.