19th February 2017
Preparing for our trip to Ypres in June this year, I was able to meet up yesterday with the new headteacher from our partner school in Veurne. Marieke came with the school secretary, Ann, and together with my son Edu we had lunch in central Brussels.
The salient point I took away from our meeting was that of trust. Marieke could have just followed on from the deep partnership set already between the schools – we’ve already shared three residential trips to Durbuy – but she felt it important to meet in person and begin that process of establishing a relationship based on trust.
Now I am as vigilant as the next person about ‘safeguarding’children. When preparing to take our children to Belgium, we will make sure we’ve seen their equivalent of the single central record, and we will have carried out suitable risk assessments. But there is a much stronger protection than this, one rooted in shared responsibility. By the end of our meeting, we already knew much about each other’s families (she’s now already met nearly half of mine) and character.
Our trip in June is now at the advanced stages of its planning. On Friday evening 17th June, pupils from the two schools will jointly place wreaths at the Menin Gate, and after that staff from the two schools (or more accurately three, as Marieke runs a federation of two separate schools) will sit down and discuss learning projects that can follow on from the anniversary of the Great War.
And it will be done in an atmosphere of trust and mutual commitment, hopefully setting the right example to our pupils.