Primary trainees are improving their language (and eating and drinking) skills abroad. Michael Shaw reports
Fancy escaping to sunny Spain to munch tapas, knock back the Rioja and enjoy a quiet siesta between lessons?
The idea may not be too far-fetched because a deal signed by ministers in Madrid yesterday means that trainee primary teachers from England and Spain can spend a month working in each others' countries.
This year 60 student teachers from England will take up placements in Spain and at least a dozen are already there.
Among them is Kelly Wnorowski from Ramsgate in Kent, who has never taken a Spanish exam, but picked up the basics from South American friends.
The 25-year-old has spent the last three weeks at the Castilla school, a small primary in Alco Bendas near Madrid.
She has been amazed by the homely atmosphere at the school and said she would miss the relaxed buffet lunches of fresh seafood and paella.
School staff have a two-hour break in the middle of each day. They use half of that time to meet parents and prepare lessons and the rest to have a meal with each other. The staff at Castilla also have extra time during the day for paperwork and several attend lessons to improve their teaching - and tapestry - skills.
Miss Wnorowski said: "I really like the way they plan their day, because it means that it's rare for the teachers to have to take work home."
She and nine other trainees from Canterbury Christ Church university college have been living in university accommodation in the northern suburb of Tres Canto.
Miss Wnorowski said that, although the stay had vastly improved her language skills, the most useful part had been making friends with the Spanish teachers.
"It's been wonderful and I definitely want to return," she said.
The placements aim to help teachers improve their knowledge of each others'
cultures and to make it easier for them to arrange exchanges when they are qualified.
The deal with the Spanish government is the latest attempt by education ministers in England to improve the language skills of primary teachers. It follows similar agreements with Germany, which will begin exchanges this year, and France, where around 600 trainee teachers from England have taken placements since 2001.
MATT BUCK 31
ESPANOL FOR PRIMARY TEACHERS
Buenos dias ninos............... Good morning children
Saquen sus libros................ Take out your books
No jueges con eso............... Don't play with that
Guarde eso .......................... Put that away
Pongan attencion............... Pay attention
?Quien ha hecho esto?....... Who did this?
Es tu toca ............................. It's your turn
Jorges, no se come eso...... Don't eat that, George