Teachers’ tips – planning a visit

Still apprehensive about organising an exchange visit to Germany? We’ve put together the best pieces of advice from experienced teachers to help you run a trip without any hiccups.

  • Getting started
    • Start off small and then gradually build things up
    • Advertise the exchange in assemblies or through school exchange ambassadors.
    • Think about long-term goals of the project – how it could develop in the future.
    • Decide and agree in detail about all project tasks before starting the project to avoid misunderstanding between partners.
    • Just because no-one has never done something before doesn’t mean it cannot be done. There always has to be a first. Why not you?
  • Accommodation and travel
    • Check accommodation very carefully. What may be acceptable in one country isn’t necessarily the same in the other. (Ironville & Codnor Park Primary School)
    • Choose an airline that has a Group Travel facility (for larger groups). This greatly assists flexibility and possible change of group participants.(Blackpool Sixth Form College)
  • Health and safety
    • Make sure each child has your mobile phone number at all times.(Brookdale Primary School)
    • Make sure all students have a CRB/Polizeiliches Führungszeugnis if they are working with children in the foreign country. (Blackpool Sixth Form College)
    • Brief the children as to the procedure they need to follow should they get lost, as well as make sure all members of the travelling party have a bilingual information card, with instructions and useful telephone numbers for the event of any emergency.
    • Make partner schools aware of any special dietary requirements your children may have. (Ranelagh Primary School).
  • Admin and finances
    • Ensure you think about presents for your hosts and the school! (Boston Grammar School)
    • Make sure each partner school knows what they are financially responsible for to assist budgeting. (Frodsham College)
    • Collect all passports and travel documents a week before you leave.
    • Make photocopies of the passports and medical insurance cards (EHIC in GB) for every member of the party (including the accompanying adults), right at the beginning of the project, to ensure that they are valid, and will be valid at the time of travel. (Brookdale Primary School)
  • Communication and organisation
    • Ensure children are in full communication, as long as possible before any travel, to ensure they already know their partners – possibilities include, mail, e-mail, blogging, video conferencing, Skype etc.
    • Ensure there is a carefully planned initial “break the ice” session for students to get to know one another.
    • Take senior pupils to assist. This adds another dimension to the trip as they can help and talk from previous experience. They can also assist in the organisation of various parts of the trip. (Blackpool Sixth Form College)
    • Keep families informed: in the lead up to our exchange visit I sent weekly then daily updates to hosts. They appreciated the contact and rather enjoyed the emails.
  • After the visit - spread the word!
    • Collect feedback from teachers and pupils at both schools and keep a record of key achievements and learning opportunities. Remember – this will help when presenting benefits of the partnership to senior leaders and parents.
    • Tell your primary feeder schools about your project and encourage them to take part. Invite parents, senior leaders and members of the community to attend a special event to mark your visit and share your project work.
    • After the project has been completed it is essential that its success is celebrated within the schools through assemblies, presence at open evenings and wall displays to get future generations of students interested in participating in cross-cultural project work. (Dixon’s City Academy)
    • Take the opportunity to make long-lasting publicity materials. We put together a collage and had the services of a past pupil who took photographs and made a film of the day. Both will be very useful for events such as Open Evenings. (Methodist College Belfast)
    • Carry out evaluations as soon after the visit as possible.(Frodsham College)
    • Invite the media to publicise the event – it is wonderful to send this to the partner country afterwards.