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Bears without frontiers

Paddington travelled from darkest Peru, Winnie-the-Pooh went to the South Pole while Aloysius went everywhere with Sebastian.

Journeys undertaken by the Euroteds - Rosie, Kalle and Marco - might well be shorter but they are no less sweet, writes Clare Dean. The trio are seasoned jet-setters, by-passing quarantine laws, who are as much at home in Sweden as they are in Italy and Great Britain.They have the photographs to prove it.

There they are on aeroplanes above Europe, reclining in hotels, cuddling up to fans and - surprise, surprise - walking to school.

The life of a Euroted is not all marmalade and honey. Rosie, Kalle and Marco are involved in a European education programme which links a Liverpool infant school with primaries in Bastad, southern Sweden and Lavena Ponte Tresa in northern Italy.

Each school is represented by a travelling bear, which children aged as young as three are encouraged meet and greet in three languages.

Rosie (with a name like that she has to be the English bear) is kitted out in her specially-made Gilmour sweatshirt. Kalle, her Swedish counterpart, wears a yellow top and red trousers, Marco, puzzlingly, is naked but for a butterfly net. (The Italian school is near Lake Lugano, which is shaped like a butterfly.) Elizabeth Bell, head of Gilmour infants, a 270-pupil school for three to seven-year-olds, has travelled with Rosie to Sweden and said: "The Euroteds are very popular."

The bears are one element of a 6,000 ecu project which operates through Socrates, the European Union action programme for co-operation in education. Children have also been communicating with teachers and pupils in Italy and Sweden by letter, fax, video and audio tape as well as gathering information about their country, city and school.

Nine out of 11 teachers at Gilmour have been to either Sweden or Italy (the children do not go on exchange visits) and the Liverpool school is about to welcome teachers on return visits.

Kalle and Marco are visiting each class in Gilmour. Rosie, meanwhile, flew back from Italy this week for a TES photo-call, having previously lost her passport when she made the trip at Easter.

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