A Christmas trip from Tanfield to Tübingen

Carols and crafts at the Christmas markets!

For nearly 50 years, County Durham has been twinned with the German town of Tübingen in South West Germany. So when the opportunity arose for pupils from Tanfield Primary School and Tanfield School to visit their partners at the Grundschule am Hechinger Eck in Tübingen, they jumped at the chance!

As part of the Magical Christmas Trips programme, pupils from Tanfield Primary School, accompanied by mentor students from nearby Tanfield Secondary School travelled to Tübingen for four days of cultural immersion, Christmas markets and lots of festive fun with their German friends!

“I thought that the Christmas Market was the most magical trip ever but the coldest one too.” Lucy, Year 6 pupil

For many of the primary school children, this was the first time they had ever flown abroad and the mentor students provided invaluable support for them during the trip. Prior to departure, the mentors visited Tanfield Primary and set up a German club, allowing them to get to know the children and teach them useful phrases for the trip. The children were particularly keen to learn how to introduce themselves to the German children and of course know how to order food and drink at the Christmas markets!

During the trip, the children had the chance to visit their partner school, where they took part in craft activities, played together and exchanged ‘Christmas in a bag’ gifts. Each child had chosen a particular gift to bring and with the help of the mentor students, were able to explain this to their new German friends! Both groups then sang Christmas carols, which the English children had learnt as part of their German club!

“I learnt so much about the German school – it’s been amazing.” Liam, Year 6 pupil

For the mentor students, the trip provided them with an invaluable opportunity to develop their leadership skills, practice their German language in real-life situations and form a close link with their local primary school. At the Christmas market, the students each looked after a small group of primary school children, allowing their younger buddies to develop their independence.

“Being constantly surrounded by the German language has really improved our reading, listening and speaking skills, which should help us in our GCSE exams next year.” Rose, Logan, Emily, Abbie and Grace, Year 11 pupils

Since arriving back from Tübingen, Tanfield Primary has kept in touch with the German primary school and are busy making plans to revisit with a new set of children next year. The German teachers are also interested in travelling to Tanfield to learn about English teaching styles and planning discussions are underway! The five mentor students have also returned to Tanfield Primary for a special assembly about the trip and both schools have been spreading the word about their terrific time in Tübingen!

“We have found it amazing to be immersed in a different culture and to practice our German in that setting. It has been a brilliant experience and we are sure that this will have equipped us with valuable leadership skills and life skills, and we hope these will help us to achieve whatever we want to in the future, both for further education and employment.” Rose, Logan, Emily, Abbie and Grace, Year 11 pupils