Erasmus+ KA2:  LIFE
4th meeting:Birmingham 23rd January – 27th January 2016

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A teacher’s diary

We waited eagerly for the arrival of our guests, beginning with Belgium on Friday and the Spanish, Portuguese and Polish on the Saturday.  They were all duly met at the airport and ferried to the hotel ‘Quality Inn’ in Acocks Green, chosen for its proximity to the school as well as to the railway station.

In the evening, we assembled in the Prezzo restaurant in Shirley to enable everyone to meet some of the English team as well as catch up with each other.

On Sunday, everyone climbed into the school minibus driven by our science teacher, Paul Farley, for a day in the historical town of Stratford-Upon-Avon.  The visit started with a stop at the tourist information centre for maps and a quick look at potential mementos, before we proceeded to walk around the old town centre, checking out the curios.  We saw Shakespeare’s house but didn’t go inside.  Instead, we admired the street performers and appreciated the fair weather we were able to enjoy.   After a short stop to quench our thirst, we made our way to the Shakespeare Royal theatre where, outside, there was a wonderful live opera singing performance.  The group then studied the various statues representing the Bard’s famous plays.   It was soon time to depart for a late lunch at the Royal Oak restaurant.

Recently renovated, the restaurant provided our visitors with a very British experience of a sumptuous carvery meal.  As everyone was very hungry by the late afternoon, they all tucked in!

By the time we returned to the hotel, no-one wanted to have another big meal so the fish & chips experience had to be cancelled. 

Monday morning, the guests walked to school whilst the host students brought in their visitors.  We greeted them in the library before our 6th formers arrived to act as tour guides for the students and teachers.  Being quite a large school, it took a while to see all the buildings and facilities.

As the student visitors returned to the base classroom, they were interviewed by Paige Dent, a 6th former responsible for the school newspaper about the Erasmus project and their experience so far in Birmingham.

From there, the host students took the guests to their regular lessons whilst the teachers began their meeting.

The final product for the Masks activities (put together by Daryl Bevan, Art technician) was shared and members shared their concerns about uploading materials/products on to the eTwinning platform and blog.  Reminders were given for outstanding work, further activities planned and Christmas cards exchanged.  Spain and Poland showed the work their students had produced for the activity: ‘What brings fun and what fun brings’.  There were some very interesting ideas.  Begona stressed the importance of completing the various surveys.

Ela explained what was entailed in the next task led by Poland and what were to be the expectations. 

At 12:30h, the students and their teachers gathered enthusiastically in the library to prepare the ‘European lunch’.  Very soon, there was a great feast laid out for everyone to share.  England’s Regina Darcy, the DT cookery teacher,  did us proud by producing hot dishes such as shepherd’s pie, chicken pie and rhubarb crumble with custard.  Yummy!

The headmaster, Mr Glen Alexander, came and met the guests, (having had a lesson to teach earlier in the morning).  He chatted to the visiting teachers whilst partaking of the delicious food laid out.  It was a true example of the diversity of European cuisine.

Once the meal was over and everything tidied up, the teachers had the afternoon to discover Solihull city centre whilst the students returned to their hosts.

In the evening, we assembled at Jimmy Spice’s restaurant for to give our guests another opportunity to sample the food reflecting multicultural Birmingham.  The food was from the East and far East as well as European.

On Tuesday morning, the teachers again walked to school from their hotel and met for the final meeting to discuss the possibility of a new Erasmus plus project.   Our senior teacher, Bernadette Stokes, was present and very keen on the topic chosen.  As we, the English school, have never led a project, it seemed only fair to offer to so now.  The attendance certificates for the visit were also given out to the teachers for themselves and for their students.

Meantime, the students were engaged in an activity called ‘Badge/shield of happiness’ in the Art room with their hosts; they had to collaborate to create a shield using colours and words that represent ‘joy/happiness’ for them.

At approximately 10 o’clock, the teachers left to make their way into Birmingham city centre for the afternoon activity whilst the students were taken by the school minibus to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
I later met up with the teachers for a rare treat: to watch a typical British pantomime called ‘Aladdin’.  It was at the Hippodrome – an old historic theatre with the traditional Dame character.  Our visitors learnt what British humour is about and how many people find their happiness in attending such shows to be able to laugh at the double entendres.  It was a magical experience.

For the last evening, we took our guests to a typical Indian restaurant (Raja Monkey), where some of them tried spicy food for the first time in their lives.  It was a befitting end to the visit.  Unfortunately, the Portuguese were not able to make it as they had to leave for London in order to catch their flight early the following morning.  Everyone else then returned to their home countries the next day after some very sad farewells between the students – and of course, the teachers too. 

These meetings are always an excellent opportunity for catching up, finding out about what new is happening in each other’s schools as well as for the students to make long life friends.

P Saggu

                                                                  Erasmus+ Coordinator

International activity made by the students: