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Are school exchanges abroad a thing of the past?

Discussion in 'School trips' started by kevinkilmartin, Oct 31, 2018.


Do you still run an exchange programme abroad?

Poll closed Nov 8, 2018.
  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
  1. kevinkilmartin

    kevinkilmartin New commenter

    Hi all, I would really appreciate some feedback if possible.

    I have been running exchanges to France and Germany for 20-odd years (I was even given a Year 7 exchange in my NQT year) and have found it to be one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the job as a language teacher and the one thing that has made the most difference for my students (as it was for me many moons ago).

    I hope so far this is a chiming a chord with my fellow MFL teachers out there.

    However, since running my last exchange 2-3 years ago, I have been informed by my colleague who oversees trips that there is a recent (i.e. this summer) DfE "recommendation" that all over-18s in a household in the UK where a foreign student is to be accommodated must be DBS-cleared. If we as a school do not choose to follow the "recommendation", we have to justify our reasons for not doing so. Essentially, they are saying "proceed at your peril". Although I understand that safeguarding keeps tightening up and it is important to ensure the guest family can provide a safe environment for the visiting student, I can't see how any family who was already unsure about their child taking part in an exchange is going to want to spend extra money on DBS checks (somewhere around £30-40 per person?). In addition, the school are going to have to manage ID checks for a couple of dozen parents/carers/other adults in the home which is going to take considerable time. It's not even as if we are being asked to have checks run on the homes where our students will stay when they are abroad where we probably have the least control.

    I have a meeting with a member of SLT next week and I am pretty sure that, whilst she will be very supportive and keen for my planned German exchange trip to go ahead, the answer will be "DBS checks as per guidance or no exchange", which means I think logistically it's a non-starter.

    Do others out there still run exchange trips?
    Have you had to content with these new rules?
    Have you found a way to satisfy SLT that the procedures you already had in place were sufficient?

    All help and guidance most welcome!

  2. JM6699

    JM6699 New commenter

    I always thought exchanges were one of the best learning experience many students had, I used to love the German ones particularly. I say 'used to' in the past tense as we were informed 3-4 years ago by our Head that they would no longer take place due to safeguarding. Pretty sure we offended our German partners who were pretty puzzled by it all.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I can't answer your specific questions but in case it's useful the DfE guidance referred to is Annex E of Keeping Children Safe in Education, the statutory safeguarding guidance, here.

    Your colleagues have summarised it correctly, it says:

    "...schools and colleges should obtain a DBS enhanced certificate with barred list information [to inform its assessment of the suitability of the adults in those families who will be responsible for the visiting child during the stay]"

    And explains what it means by "should"

    "We use the term “must” when the person in question is legally required to do something and “should” when the advice set out should be followed unless there is good reason not to."
    I can't see many schools ignoring the 'recommendation' to DBS check all adults in the household in the face of those statements.

    DBS themselves don't charge for DBS certificates for the family - they're 'volunteer' roles and DBS checks for volunteers are free - but the service provider your school uses to process DBS applications will probably charge an admin fee - shouldn't be as much as £30 though. The family members wouldn't be expected to pay the admin fee, the school would be billed for it. There's a considerable internal cost to the school as well, a lot of internal admin time. And all the adults being DBS'd would have to come in personally with their ID. What's the odds they'll all get around to doing that within the timescale you would have to work to?

    Sadly I suspect safeguarding rules have pretty much killed off the traditional exchange visit.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    blazer likes this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Pity. Last month we went across to France and paid a visit with the family that participated in an exchange between their son and blazer major. Both 'boys' now being 36!
  5. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    That young? This might get competitive - my exchange partner was 61 when we last met
  6. SaraSF

    SaraSF New commenter

    I believe that exchanges will always make sense since when trying to promote language and cultural learning, exchanges are the best way to consolidate, learning-by-doing, in fact it is a great motivational engine to continue studying.
    We must not lose the ultimate goal of leaning a language: live it, share it and communicate through it.
    I think we should consider new ways to carry out and focus exchanges.
    We must bear in mind that times change and we continue considering exchanges in the same way as years ago. Maybe we should adapt to the new times.

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