Great to be back! First post-pandemic French exchange prompts anniversary celebrations

Great to be back! First post-pandemic French exchange prompts anniversary celebrations

As the School as a whole marks QE’s 450th anniversary, the Languages department has its own landmark to celebrate – ten years of its French exchange.

Twenty-one boys headed to Bourg-en-Bresse this month, a town which lies northeast of Lyon at the foot of the Jura Mountains. Their exchange partners came to Barnet last term.

The QE boys enjoyed a week of activities that ranged from trips to local attractions to attending classes in the partner school, Collège St Pierre. This tenth exchange follows a three-year gap because of the pandemic.

Head of Languages Nora Schlatte said: “We were particularly excited for the 2023 French exchange, having not had an exchange run since 2019, and the trip was a great success.

“The QE boys and their French partners got on really well and it was great to see them sharing experiences and speaking more and more French as the week went on. Families on both sides said how happy they were to have been able to take part in this experience and we are thrilled to be maintaining our strong link with Collège St Pierre.”

The first exchange with Bourg-en-Bresse was in the 2010 Summer Term, when 13 pupils from Years 8 and 9 visited Collège St-Pierre, the alma mater of a QE French teacher of the time, Océane Jullien, who now teaches in Thailand.

On this year’s trip the QE boys flew in to Geneva and then took a coach over the border to Bourg-en-Bresse, where they were met by the host families. They were accompanied by Ms Schlatte, Languages teacher Katrin Hood (who is also Head of Year 8) and Cover Supervisor Joan Anderson.

Their busy week included a:

  • Visit to the local ‘parc des oiseaux’ (bird park) with their partners
  • Day trip to Lyon, taking in a museum visit (Musée du Cinéma et de la Miniature), picnic lunch, shopping and a funicular railway ride to the cathedral, where they could enjoy the views from the hill
  • Weekend spent with the families – activities reported include bowling, trips to the cinema, cave visits, and visits to the Chamonix mountain region
  • Scavenger hunt through the town and a woodland adventure activity
  • Day in school, taking part in a quiz, and, with their exchange partners, in an Art lesson, Mathematics lesson, PE activity and going to a basketball match in the evening
  • Trip to the market.

Among the QE party was Dhruva Arjun, who said: “My highlight was watching the basketball match on the last night. The atmosphere was really fun and it was great to be there with our exchange partners.”

Fellow member of Harrisons’ House, Aaryav Sharma, said some of his most memorable moments took place above ground level: “We had a great afternoon doing accrobranche, which is a treetop adventure activity,” adding that he and two friends all “managed the really difficult black run, which was great!”

Tanish Nori, a member of Underne House, relished spending time with his partner and the family. “At the weekend, they took me to the Alps and we went to the Aiguille du Midi, which was amazing.”

Last term, Headmaster Neil Enright joined key staff involved in the exchange in celebrating a decade of successful trips with a special afternoon tea.