A group of 40 Holgate students recently enjoyed an action-packed four days in Normandy learning about the culture, practising speaking French and visiting some important historical locations.

They learnt how to bake organic sourdough bread in a country-side bakery, visited the Caramels D’Isigny factory to see how the world-renowned sweets are made, enjoyed a fly-past by the French equivalent of the Red Arrows, immersed themselves in a 360 degree cinema experience, took a number of beach walks, and viewed the famous Bayeux Tapestry overlooked by the stunning Bayeux Cathedral.

There were also moving visits to Juno Beach, taken by the First Canadian Army during the Allied invasion in World War II, the British, American and German cemeteries and Pegasus Bridge, famous for the vital role it played in preventing a German counterattack during the weeks following the Normandy invasion by Allied Forces. Students and staff found these visits particularly poignant with the D-Day anniversary falling in the same week as the trip.

A key part of the trip was for students to experience the French culture and language in action and where better to do so than at a beautiful, sunny market, in a stunning pâtisserie and, not least, with French students from the Jean Rose Lycée in Paris!  One student commented: “My favourite activity was the Bayeux Tapestry but I think the language and culture I got to experience throughout the trip in general was amazing!”

The benefit of trips like this are multiple, and amongst the comments received from parents are “an absolutely wonderful experience and opportunity you have given the children,” and “(my child) loved every second and made lots of memories”.

Whilst it’s common for staff to praise students for their behaviour, it’s quite unusual to receive an endorsement from customs officers…but the Holgate students did! They commented to staff that: “Holgate students were one of the best (groups) passing through customs with their manners and use of French.”

Ms Medjdoub, who organised the trip, was also keen to commend students and said: “We were particularly thrilled to see language come to life for students in real communication with the French lycée students who were visiting at the same time. Both French and English students made a real effort and hopefully forged some real friendships.

Overall, our aim to share history, culture and the value of language acquisition has been a huge success! We were so incredibly proud of the way our students engaged with the experience and the exemplary way they represented The Holgate Academy.”