Thirsk School’s German partner school is the Städtische Gesamtschule in Nettetal. The school is a rural comprehensive, very much like our own. The town of Nettetal is in the north west of Germany on the Dutch border. The nearest town is Viersen or Mönchengladbach in Germany and Venlo in the Netherlands. The exchange has been running for nearly 20 years, enabling students from year 9 to 13 to participate.
During their stay in Germany our pupils stay in families, attend lessons and participate in cultural visits and leisure activities. The exchange enables our older pupils to practise the language they have learnt in their first few years at Thirsk School and to improve their German more generally.
Whilst visiting our partner school the students become immersed in a different education system with a different school day, experience different teaching and learning styles and witness different attitudes to a number of aspects of school life such as discipline and uniform. Whilst in Nettetal they are able to make interesting comparisons between the two schools and education systems.
During their stay with their host German families our pupils are more often than not treated as a member of the family. They are totally immersed in German family life and experience Germany as an insider rather than as an outsider. They often learn just as much about themselves and their own country as they do about Germany, by the comparisons they automatically make.
Whilst in Germany our students also make new friends and participate in interesting leisure activities. They gain greatly in self-esteem and confidence, both personally and linguistically, as they strive to come to terms with the challenge of living for a short while in a foreign country. The exchange therefore often acts as a motivational factor in choosing to study German at KS4 and KS5, and also at university level.
You can read a report of the 2015 Thirsk-based part of the German exchange here, written by student Harriet Flouri.