Q. Do foreign exchange trips really happen anymore – and are they safe? Miranda, west London
Some schools are pulling out of traditional foreign exchange trips because of concerns over safety and lack of CRB checks on host families. Now, foreign trips for language students tend to be led by teachers with accommodation in hostels, but while this might seem a viable (and safer) alternative, it’s not as effective as it doesn’t immerse the pupils in a foreign language.
Duncan Byrne, former chairman of the Independent Schools Modern Languages Association, says: ‘Schools are now running sanitised trips where they take 30 children to a French château and lay on the French experience with croissants. But pupils are not being immersed in the culture and it’s not the same as living with a host family. We must not let excessive caution deny pupils valuable life and learning experiences.’
Some schools have found a compromise: Latymer Upper, a co-ed independent school in west London, arranges week-long French exchange programmes for Years 9 and 10 with the Collège St Blaise in Vertou, Nantes. The Dragon School in Oxford pairs up with Tokyo school Keio Yochisha, so that pupils can get a taste of life in Japan. But there are many ways to to organise this amazing experience. The family you are paired with will also be concerned about child safety. Exchange trips are just that, a reciprocal arrangement. Treat the exchange the way you want your child to be treated, and they will almost certainly be fine.
Founded in 1947 and have sent 30,000 children abroad.
Organises language-stay holidays for children and teenagers directly. They arrange exchanges or a one-way paid stay with a host family, covering most of Europe.
Offers opportunities to study abroad for over 15s – including Germany, Spain, and even Australia – for those looking for an experience abroad.