Springhallow School was excited and immensely pleased to receive visitors from the Pestalozzischule, in Soltau, Germany. This is part of a two year bi-lateral partnership between Pestalozzischule and Springhallow, with funding and support from the Comenius Partnerships Team at the British Council to facilitate this work. Central to this partnership is a student and staff exchange, with on-going work around communication, culture and language; as such German is now established as one of the Modern Foreign Languages taught in Osprey Class. The means to deliver this in the exchange visit was through dance and movement.
Pestalozzischule students and staff arrived shortly after the start of the summer term, landing at London Heathrow on a Tuesday afternoon and staying through to the following Tuesday. The group stayed locally at the Premier Inn, Ealing Broadway. There were 11 students in the group aged 12 – 15; 2 parents; 2 youth workers from the local Jugendzentrum in Soltau; a teacher; the headteacher; and a hiphop artist and dance teacher from Bremen called Dan Castel. Bettina Goydke-Obieglo (a class teacher from Pestalozzischule) had visited on a number of occasions before, including once with the headteacher, Robert Bruns, to work towards the joint application for the programme and supporting funding.
Students and staff from Osprey Class met with the Pestalozzischule group on the first full day, prior to going to Westside to begin the dance workshops with Dan. Each morning the group worked together at Westside before coming back for lunch at Springhallow and continuing to work on their dance presentation in the afternoons in the school hall.
On the Friday morning Stephen Pound MP came to welcome Springhallow’s guests from Germany and find out about the shared project as well as present the Comenius plaque for display in the entrance to school. The dance work was hugely enjoyable, with students being engaged, helping to lead and guide their friends. Regular breaks and refreshments contributed towards sustaining energy levels. The instructions and prompts were delivered seamlessly by Dan in German and in English! After the weekend, the group came together for some final rehearsals on the Monday morning before their presentation to the whole of Springhallow.
The presentation was a huge success with families and school governors attending. With all the visitors and space required for dancing there was some initial concerns as to whether the school hall accommodation would be able to hold the show! However, all was okay with the audience providing a huge round of applause (one or two of the younger pupils in primary were especially keen to join in too!). Again, it was great to hear German and English in the introduction from Mr Bruns and Herr Balmer.
A very special well done to all participants! What a wonderful presentation! Was für eine wunderbare Leistung!
Our friends from Pestalozzischule returned home the following day pleased with their many achievements and having had an enjoyable time with the Springhallow pupils. They had also enjoyed a great stay with afternoon, evening and weekend activities in London; for some this was their first trip outside of Germany.
They are very much looking forward to welcoming a student and staff group from Springhallow towards the end of September. Plans are well underway here, with a similar focus around dance and movement leading towards a presentation at Pestalozzischule across a 5 day stay in Soltau. The visit will include cultural and leisure activities scheduled for the afternoons and evenings too