30 years of exchanges!
Mallinckrodt-Gymnasium in Dortmund, and Wellington School in Ayr have been partners for 30 years. To celebrate 15 years of UK-German Connection, they share how their partnership has evolved over the years and the impact on both schools.
Who: Mallinckrodt-Gymnasium, Dortmund & Wellington School, Ayr
30 years ago, when the partnership between the Mallinckrodt-Gymnasium and Wellington School was born, the world was a different place. There were still two Germanys, but not for much longer, communication took place by letter and UK-German Connection did not yet exist.
The Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges were our matchmakers. The reply to Wellington’s first letter started with “We’ve been waiting 12 years for this letter!”
Our schools shared a similar history and ethos and the rest is history!
Over 30 years we have organised junior and senior exchanges, thematic conferences, Comenius and Erasmus projects. A major highlight was a Magical Christmas visit to Dortmund in 2018 which the German and Scottish pupils loved. Teachers have exchanged posts and have work-shadowed colleagues. Staff friendships have flourished. Retired staff still support the schools by hosting and joining in celebratory events. Mallinckrodt pupils have spent a term studying at Wellington and former pupils have returned as German Language Assistants and trainee teachers. This year Wellington School will welcome a former exchange student, now a Deputy Headmistress of a primary school in Dortmund, via the Host a Teacher from Germany programme.
We now live in a digital age of instant communication. Email and social media have transformed communication between pupils. When an exchange visit is announced and pupils ‘meet’ their partners, they do not need to wait for the postman. They can share information, photos and videos instantly. Parents can also communicate with each other easily.
Our 30 year Anniversary celebrations in March 2020 were a race against Covid-19. We made it!
At our birthday concert in Ayr Town Hall, our Headmasters exchanged Time Capsules to be opened at our 50th Anniversary event. By then, how many more friendships will have been forged through our partnership?
Barbara Bullman and Susan Coontz, teachers at Wellington School and Mallinckrodt-Gymnasium
This article is part of the UK-German Connection 15-year Anniversary Challenge: Capture Your Connection, which invited schools and individuals to share their UK-German stories.