Languages Connect How-to-Manual-for-School-Exchanges - Flipbook - Page 8
It is really important to engage parents from the very beginning. Parents can sometimes
encourage their children to choose a language, or even a school, based on a successful
school exchange. Parents should be made aware of school exchanges at open days, and
should be informed of the benefits well in advance. A school exchange involves effort,
shows that the school has dedicated staff and should be something that the school is proud
of. If the school exchange takes place in TY, ensure that parents are informed about it when
their child is in 3rd year. They will have many questions, so consider holding an information
evening, and keep them engaged, informed, and address any concerns, throughout the
year. Some parents are very capable, and others are very selfconscious about their homes
and maybe even their own language skills or cooking skills, etc. Try to reassure them that it is
not necessary to have a spare room, amazing cooking skills or speak the language their child
is learning. Experience and good planning will reassure parents. The video clip from Lucan
Community College includes very positive feedback and reassuring advice from parents
who have been involved in school exchanges, so do encourage parents to look at it.
As with any partner, it is important to have things in common. It is not necessary to find a
school that is a mirror image of your own, but students and their parents might feel more
comfortable if they are broadly similar. Think about what your own school stands for, the
socioeconomic backgrounds of the parents, and where it is located.
Planning is absolutely crucial to the success of the exchange. Careful planning of everything
– travel, matching, programme, etc. – will make an exchange run smoothly. Good planning
will also reassure parents. Planning does take time, but teachers who have a successful
exchange in place and can see all the benefits know that it is worth it.
If schools have a PME MFL student and an exchange, they should involve the PME students
with the exchange, this will help with the work load and give an insight to the PME students
on how to run a successful exchange, which they can put to use in their next school.
A supportive principal is extremely important. Some teachers include the principal on the
exchange so that they can experience the benefits for themselves. A really supportive principal
is more likely to lead to a whole school approach, which balances the workload and provides
support for the team of language teachers. Teachers going abroad with students need to know
that their principal trusts and supports them, and that if something does not go to plan that
their principal will defend them. The video clips include very positive feedback from principals
and deputy principals, so do encourage your school leaders to look at them.
It is really important to have an activity packed programme. If the exchange is during term
time, ensure pupils experience what school is like in another country. Give the students and
their families some scope to do things themselves, but ensure they have a reasonably busy
programme. Cost, as always, is a factor, but the programme does not have to be expensive, it
just has to be enjoyable. An interesting programme should appeal to students and parents,
and can be an incentive for prospective students and parents on open days.
Single sex schools
16% of students in Ireland are in boys’ schools, 21% are in girls’ schools and 63% are in mixed
schools. The vast majority of schools abroad are mixed. It is best to view this as the situation,
as opposed to a problem. There are examples in Ireland of single sex schools that have
collaborated together to go on an exchange with a mixed school abroad. The other option
is to have boys and girls paired off together, this sometimes happens in mixed schools, and
there are lots of examples where this has worked very well.
How-to Manual for School Exchanges