SEND School Story - Haringey Learning Partnership in Paris
Haringey Learning Partnership (HLP) explored uncharted territory this week in our first-ever residential visit abroad to Paris. HLP staff and students have spent months fundraising and preparing for this unique experience. Thanks to generous support from the Tottenham Grammar School Foundation, we were able to bring 8 students away on a 3-day residential visit to Paris. We prioritised Pupil Premium/FSM and Looked After Children, all of whom are either beginning to reintegrate into their new mainstream schools or are hard at work preparing for their GCSE exams next summer. All but one of the students had never been abroad before, so the opportunity for them to stay away from home and represent the HLP community abroad was fantastic.
After arriving to school early on Saturday evening, we set off in the minibus to London Heathrow where we stayed overnight in advance of our early morning flight. We luckily managed to navigate through Terminal 5 at 5am with no problems. Even though Mr Cain-Reed forgot his suitcase at home, none of the passports went missing. After 3 visits to the passport office during the summer holidays to try and fast-track students' passports, there was concern that passports wouldn't arrive in time, but luckily the last one came through just 2 days before we left.
After we touched down in Paris, we had a difficult journey to find our coach, but persevering in true HLP fashion, we navigated the challenge of Charles de Gaulle airport and finally made it to our hotel where we dropped off our bags. Excited, we explored the Disney Village and took in all of the shops, various characters, arcades and restaurants. We arrived back very tired and had a quick dinner. Keen to make use of the good weather, we opted to explore Paris at night-time, and after a taxi journey into the centre of the city, we walked around and took in the architecture, music and beautiful scenery. We surprised the students with an elevator ride right to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The glittering lights on the tower set against the night sky were a sight to behold, and there were moments of awe and silence as we took in the incredible view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. After annoying some other tourists with our mini photo shoot, we headed back to the hotel and settled down for the night.
The next morning, we woke up early to make the most of our first day in Disneyland. We were able to use fast-track passes, to ensure all of the students could get on as many of the rides as possible. The students really excelled and challenged themselves, confronting their fears of heights and roller coasters. We visited the park later in the evening to take in the incredible light and fireworks show – it truly was a magical experience that appealed to all the senses. The students took some incredible pictures set against the backdrop of the Disney castle and were amazed at the extent of the display.
Already planning which rides to go on again, we visited the Walt Disney Studios park the next day. Hyperspace Mountain was a firm student favourite and was a ride we just couldn't keep away from. The journey back to London went very smoothly, but there were lots of sleepy students and staff on the plane home.
What struck staff was how polite and grateful the students were for the opportunity to travel, stay away from home with their friends and explore a different culture. It's experiences like these which help bring our school community together. We are fortunate to have been able to provide this opportunity free of charge to students and greatly appreciate the generous grant from the Tottenham Grammar School Foundation, without whom we wouldn't be able to offer our opportunities for life-changing experiences.
While we are tired from our incredible journey, we are already thinking ahead to our next residential visit abroad and we greatly appreciate our school community's support in signposting us to potential donations and grant applications, so that we can continue to offer our students experiences which help them overcome fears and boundaries and challenge themselves.
Executive Headteacher and Designated Safeguarding Lead
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