The Stansted Business Forum has always had strong links with the community and in particular with the local Stansted schools, Forest Hall School (FHS), St Mary’s C of E Primary School and Bentfield Green primary school.  They are all members of the SBF and benefit from having direct access to local businesses to act as mentors to students or support them in their career choices.  The SBF together with the Stansted Twinning Committee, has also been involved in helping these schools and Birchanger Primary school link up with similar schools in Rungis, France.  Stansted formally twinned with Rungis in 2018 and schools now have the opportunity to exchange letters with French students in Rungis schools and improve their French. One teacher from St Mary’s C of E Primary School was very enthusiastic about the initiative as the children loved the idea of linking up with similar children in France.

The 9th May was therefore a very special day for staff and students from FHS who hosted a visit by 68 students from a similar school in Rungis, France.  Students had already contacted their French counterparts in Rungis and exchanged letters as pen pals.  Students were given a presentation about FHS, then they had time to meet their pen pals who they had been writing to over the past year. The French students also toured the school and had lunch with students in the school canteen. 

One of the students, Holly Ellison (Year 8) said that it was interesting to meet their pen pals and find out what schools are like in France. She thought that there were lots of differences but also some similarities. Holly is looking forward to visiting her pen pal in Rungis on a visit to France with the school next year. Hannah Jones is the Principal of FHS and was pleased that ‘It was a great opportunity for our students to meet their pen pals. Students had time to get to know each more and practice their spoken French language. It is always important that we ensure our students learn about different cultures, ways of life and languages. I hope that our planned visit to Rungis next year will further allow students to develop their understanding and awareness of French culture and schools’.