Longlevens Junior School Embark on a Trip to Remember

Earlier this year Longlevens Junior School embarked on a Pan European Comenius Project which involved linking with schools in France and Italy to exchange and share experience of school life and the ways in which schools operate in each country. Normally, Comenius projects involve the staff and teachers from each school in a series of exchange visits. However, Lewis Cook, Modern Foreign Languages co-ordinator and the project leader at the school, provided several pupils from the school with a wonderful opportunity to become personally involved also. He arranged for 10 pupils to accompany 4 teachers on a trip to their ‘partner’ school, the Institution Sainte-Marthe, Draguignan, in the Provence region of France.

Lewis, who is an avid Francophile, felt that, following a visit to Draguignan earlier in the year, the environment and circumstances were ideal to allow the children to participate fully in the project by visiting the French school.

Obviously a lot of logistical planning and risk assessment was needed to ensure that the trip would be both successful and memorable. Meetings with the parents/pupils were held to communicate accurately what was being planned and to share the proposed selection process which would be undertaken by the pupils involved.

The selection process was in itself a learning experience for the children and included a letter of application, an interview, followed by a series of teamwork and individual exercises before the final 10 pupils were chosen. The process, which was equivalent to a Job Application Process, provided all the children with a valuable life experience at a very early age. Lewis also provided extra French tuition for the group in readiness for the trip.

Whilst there was some funding for the trip it was necessary to generate further funds to ensure all costs were covered. To do this a series of fund raising events were promoted and these accumulated over £500 which was allocated towards the spending money for the pupils.

After flying from Birmingham to Nice, they travelled by minibus to Draguignan where the teachers and pupils alike stayed at a hotel in the town. Not only did this allow the teachers to maintain supervision but it also allowed both parties to review their daily activities together.

The timetable of events and activities provided a variety of situations which engaged the children continuously and included joining the French pupils in classroom studies, performing a song in English for the school and exchanging communication addresses to allow Skyping, emails and pen pal letters – all of which enhanced the total learning experience!

The excursion, however, was not all ‘work’ as three out-of-school events were planned to give the children a real taste of French living.

Initially, there was a ‘Pétanque’ (or Boules) afternoon in the Town Square in which everyone joined in enthusiastically and a trip to the seaside proved to be an exhilarating exercise. However, last but not least, the finale involved spending an evening with a typical French family. Children and teachers were invited into the family homes of students from the school to be entertained and join in a typical French evening. This wonderful experience included an evening meal, which lasted up to 3 hours, and, as several families had invited close friends to the soirée, there was much to discuss and share. The evening proved to be a resounding success for everyone.

On return to Longlevens the group provided feedback from the trip to a full school assembly which gave them the opportunity to re-live their memorable experiences in France.

Let’s congratulate Lewis, Dave Smith, the Head teacher and the School for providing such a valuable learning experience for their pupils.

School Signs: Helping to Keep Your Kids Safe

Principals and school administrators sometimes have a thankless job. For one thing, they have to balance their responsibilities to their students, teachers, non-teaching employees and parents as well. On top of that, they have to answer to the school superintendent and school board. Just a small example of their responsibilities include:

a. Make sure students are safe
b. Be understanding and/or tolerant towards the different home situations that students may have which can inform their behavior in school
c. Help develop action plans with teachers regarding student’s behavior
d. Make sure that school grounds are clean and secure

There are many other responsibilities, but looking at the above examples, one will realize that to be a principal, one has to do a very delicate juggling act regarding how to manage the concerns of the students, the teachers, employees and parents. No matter how diverse the responsibilities of a principal or administrator, the one area that he or she can do without much resistance from everyone is in the area of school security.

The need for a secure school environment cannot be understated. For all intents and purposes, a school serves as a child’s second home, so making sure that one is safe in them is very important.

The spate of campus violence notwithstanding, it is good to know that children are safer in schools than outside them. In fact, while still tragic, less than 1% of the 55.6 million students in the 2007 to 2008 school year were reported to have died from school violence.

Still, it never hurts to increase school safety especially if it is relatively affordable to do so, especially if it is your job to make sure of these things. One good and relatively inexpensive way of increasing school safety is to install the proper school signs in and around a campus.

There are many kinds of school signs on the market for a variety of safety issues. Signs that warn motorists of the presence of student crosswalks are an example of a sign that, when placed properly, can go a long way in helping to reduce the incidence of traffic accidents involving students. Because traffic accidents in school areas happen, making sure that motorists are properly warned of the presence of a student crosswalk is a necessity.

Another type of school sign is one that can help in controlling dangerous substances and items. An example of such a sign is those which warn individuals of policies towards carrying firearms and illegal drug possession. No parent wants to send his or her child to a school where there is a presence of firearms and illegal drugs. Signs warning individuals to cease and desist having these items on their person will also greatly help in creating a safer and more secure campus.

Typically, one must choose a school sign that’s made of aluminum as this material is rust free. This means many years of service for you and your campus. Also, when choosing a sign for your campus crosswalk, choose one that is MUTCD compliant. These MUTCD signs feature highly reflective surfaces making them more visible at night.

When making sure that school grounds are safe and secure, the proper school signs can certainly help a lot in creating such an environment. School signs inform individuals of everything from road dangers to the behavior expected of them. If you are a principal or school administrator, consider putting up a school sign in and around your campus. Everyone will appreciate the gesture.