Headteacher Jane Davis credits her parents' support and the Turing Scheme for funding this life-changing experience
Having taken children for 12 years on Erasmus+ visits to over 30 different European countries, we were gutted when these projects came to a halt after Brexit. Then we heard about the Turing Scheme and a whole new world suddenly opened up to us!
Turing was totally different. Suddenly, there were so many different possibilities, including links with countries we had never even thought of taking children to. Overnight, the thought of taking children to a totally diverse country was a real possibility.
We contacted our International Office at the Local Authority and said we wanted to broaden our horizons but needed a partner school and did not know where to start. They were exceptionally helpful and put us in touch with a wonderful Indian lady from Newcastle who has links with schools in India. We met her, talked through the possibilities and soon, our dream became a possibility. The application to Turing went in and we were ecstatic when we found out it had been successful. The dream was about to become a reality.
Parents of our Year 5 & 6 were asked for expressions of interest in their child going. Out of 110 children, we had 60 interested. Names were drawn out of a hat and the lucky 16 children attended an after school India Club for half a term where they learnt more about what to expect during their week in the country. This was a perfect way of preparing them all for the week.
I have utmost respect for those parents and carers allowing their 10 yr old children to go on such a life-changing trip. They were trusting our staff to take their most precious possessions over 4,000 miles away! Just prior to departure, there were nerves from us all – but I think that is totally natural – we are only human after all.
I set up a WhatsApp group so we could keep in daily contact with parents as I felt that being able to follow the daily adventures of their children, would help put their minds at ease. This worked brilliantly and the instant I posted a photo or message, they responded. After their return, one parent said that the highlight of every day was those messages and photos popping up! Another parent said that her whole office was being updated with our daily adventures. We also have a very active Twitter account: @LanchesterEP and this meant the whole school community felt part of the week.
The week was both memorable and humbling. Friendships for life were made. Strong links with our partner school were born. The children were totally immersed in the whole Indian culture, grasped each and every new experience with enthusiasm and experienced more in a week than some of us experience in a lifetime.
The responsibility of taking 16 children on a 24-hour journey consisting of 3 flights is slightly daunting. But is it worth it. Absolutely. The key ingredients to taking such young children half way round the world are: excellent planning, great communication, enthusiasm, honesty and resilience. Were there tears? Yes. Tears of apprehension when leaving, tears of joy when there and tears of relief when arriving home.
What next you might ask? Well, in 4 weeks’ time, we take 24 more 10 year olds to Dubai to immerse them in the Islamic culture for a week. This too, was part of the same Turing funding application. Two totally contrasting countries and cultures. And I am one very proud head teacher of a great school community.
Jane Davis, Head Teacher of Lanchester E.P. (Controlled) Primary School
Interested in applying for Turing Scheme funding?
The Global School Alliance is delighted to be supporting another cohort of schools with their Turing Scheme funding application and student exchange trip for the academic year of 2023 to 2024.
Our support service includes dedicated support with the application, finding a partner school and organising/delivering the student exchange trip. The cost of this is covered in the ‘organisation support’ aspect of your Turing Scheme funding.
Places are limited so enquire today to find out more.