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French mini placements

For some years now we have been sending Year 12 students to Finist re in France for between a week and a fortnight to work in primary schools.

The scheme is organised by Cornwall LEA and accommodation is arranged for them by the host schools - they usually stay with the families of staff.

Students pay around pound;125 each.

French primary schools across Finist re elect to receive an English sixth-former for a placement before Easter as a "mini-assistant" (referring to the length of the placement rather than the age or height of the assistant).

English schools receive French students on the same basis in June. English students get a day-long induction during which they're taught a range of activities to use with French pupils. They also get a tape of English songs. Their duties are to help with the teaching and to stimulate cultural activities.

All our Year 12 students are desperate to go and the only problem has been finding enough host schools. This year, however, it looks as though all the students who want to go have been found places. Every year they come back full of enthusiasm. Some say it was the best thing they ever did. It does wonders for their speaking skills, it's real work experience and it improves self-confidence. Last year the scheme won a European Award for Languages.

Mavis Lewis, Saltash Community College, Cornwall

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