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Germany Residential Exchange Visit 2019

On 11th March 2019, a group of 26 year 5 pupils and 5 adults embarked on the 4th annual Residential Exchange Visit to Germany.  The group flew from Bristol to Berlin (for some it was their first time on an aeroplane!) and then they travelled by train to Potsdam. They stayed in a youth hostel in the suburb called Babelsberg which is just a short walk to the exchange school, ‘Evanglische Grundschule Babelsberg’ who have been partnered with Bluecoat for four years.

Throughout the week the group worked alongside their German pen pals in the classroom on the theme ‘Building Bridges’. Classroom activities included a team challenge to ensure all pupils safely crossed the bridge across a ‘turbulent river’; building the tallest/longest/most creative bridge using restricted resources; a ‘Peace and Conflict’ role play, as well as a session learning circus skills. All the children in their German classes also visited the Allied Museum in the ‘American Quarter’ of Berlin to learn about post-war Berlin and the segregation.

Bluecoat pupils spent a rainy afternoon seeing some of the sights of Berlin including the famous Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building. Whilst in Berlin, the children enjoyed a trip to the ‘Ampel man’ shop which is now becoming a tradition of the trip. The ‘Ampel man’ is an iconic symbol stemming from the image used on the old traffic lights of East Berlin before the wall came down (during segregation) – in the shop, the image is now used on lots of items like pencil cases, bags and even sweets! They also enjoyed a trip to the centre of Potsdam and explored landmarks like the Church of St. Nickolas and the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Park Sanssouci.
The children had many opportunities to sample the German culture, especially the food. Food was sampled from local bakeries, whilst spending an afternoon visit to host families and also during the Global Evening held in the school. German pen pals brought traditional food to share as a buffet which was followed by playing games together. 

The trip was once again a great success with lots of fun and amazing learning opportunities had by all. Although the travellers returned late and and very tired, a fantastic, memorable and educational time was had by everyone!

Meanwhile at Bluecoat…..

Whilst the 26 pupils enjoyed their exchange visit to Germany, the rest of the year 5s got stuck into their enrichment week which mirrored the theme in Germany, ‘Building Bridges’, which focused on developing PSHE skills and learning to work together effectively.

Construction was literally the name of the game as the week began in forest school! Putting communication and problem-solving skills to the test, children worked together to create shelters – with only limited resources supplied. The rain arrived just in time to allow the children to celebrate their success and check just how effective the shelters actually were.

Working with the slogan ‘Build bridges, not walls’, they took the opportunity to delve into the history of the Berlin Wall and the issues facing those who lived on either side. Using art as a means to express themselves as well as invoke change, they then tried their hand at graffiti writing. Armed with their new lettering skills, they worked together in teams to create contemporary slogans and art in their very own graffiti wall, focusing on global and local issues that they would like to change. It was lovely to see lots of groups picking up on the issues of inclusivity as well as sustainability, showing awareness of the wider world too.

Sport is a great unifier, and in addition to PE during the week, children had a fantastic time visiting GTS to take part in the Dance Festival, where they were again able to develop another way of expressing themselves, listening to various songs and trialling some new moves to match. Similarly, Sophie from the Plough visited to help us explore drama with a ‘Play in a Day’, where we recreated some scenes from Tin Tin, Destination Moon.

The week ended with further exploration of German culture. After sampling and reviewing traditional German food, children worked together to create their own menus for a German restaurant (complete with translations for English visitors). This was followed by some traditional German music, which we then recreated on glockenspiels.

Children loved sharing their learning from the week with the rest of our year group when we took part in a quick Skype call to Germany too at the end of the week, showing that a great week was had by all!