The Turing Scheme has opened ‘a whole new world’ to the pupils of a rural County Durham primary school, with groups travelling to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Forty children from Years 5 and 6 at Lanchester EP Primary School were able to enjoy an incredible international adventure early in 2023 thanks to funding from the United Kingdom Government programme for educational opportunities abroad.
Sixteen youngsters travelled to Rajkot in India and a further 24 to Dubai in the UAE, sampling school life and cultures which are vastly different from those they experience at home in the North East of England.
So many different possibilities
“Having taken children away for 12 years on Erasmus+ visits to over 15 different European countries, we were gutted when these projects came to a halt after Brexit,” said headteacher Jane Davis. “Then we heard about the Turing Scheme and a whole new world suddenly opened up to us.
“Suddenly, there were so many different possibilities, including links with countries we had never even thought of taking children to. Overnight, the thought of taking children to a totally diverse country was a real possibility.”
New links were quickly established with schools in the UAE and India and, following a successful application for Turing Scheme funding, plans began in earnest.
Of the trip to India, Jane said: “The week was both memorable and humbling. Friendships for life were made. Strong links with our partner school were born. The children were totally immersed in the whole Indian culture, grasped each and every new experience with enthusiasm and experienced more in a week than some of us experience in a lifetime.
“I can honestly say these visits for our children have been completely life-changing and completely inspirational, for them and for the staff involved. On each of the trips we had children who’d never been abroad before or flown.”
Niamh, aged 10, who was one of the pupils who went to India, said: “I learned so much on this trip. At the school we did a session about children’s rights and the things that we need to live, such as clean water, food, shelter.
A new adventure each day
“Clean water doesn’t just come out of the tap in India and drinking it can make you unwell. It made me realise how lucky we are to have access to clean, safe drinking water all the time.
“It was a very different culture and I learned lots and lots of facts. Since being home I’ve shared lots of these with my family and friends.
“Everything was so different to home, the smells, and the roads were very busy. One thing we all learned about the roads is that they honk their horns to let people know they are there, so it’s very noisy all the time!”
Reuben, also 10, said: “Each day we had our own adventure, and my three highlights of the week were the zoo, The Pink Palace and Sunshine School. I made two friends at the Sunshine School who befriended me as soon as I started a conversation with them. All of the students at the school got along very nicely and it was great to talk with them.
“I feel lucky that I had this opportunity to visit one of the most magnificent countries I’ve known.”
The mother of another pupil who travelled, nine-year-old Molly, said: “Seeing her face at the airport the day she came home was just magical, she looked so happy and I knew instantly that we’d made the right decision to support her in going to India.
“Now she will casually drop into conversation snippets of Indian culture or point out pictures of Sloth Bears in the museum, informing us that she had seen live ones whilst over in Rajkot. I’m so proud of her and the bravery and commitment that she has shown, and I am eternally thankful to the school for providing her with the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Find out more about opportunities for schools under the Turing Scheme