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Crossing Borders Belgium Trip, 2024

Travelling to Belgium

Our students arrived bright and early to set off on a unique week away visiting the amazing Saint Josef Kleminaire School, who we have had the pleasure of hosting  at Spring Common Academy in March this year. This annual experience is a highlight in the Spring Common Academy calendar. 

Our pupils travelled to Brussels Central with the added excitement of experiencing the Eurostar journey. On arrival, they were met by familiar Belgian students and staff, who made sure the group were supported safely to their next destination and home for the week, St Niklaas. 

Ahead of our arrival, the Belgian students prepared a lovely dinner and welcome activity to allow our tired and anxious students to immediately feel at ease.


Creative Animation and Puppetry Workshop

After a well-earned rest and a good night’s sleep, the group enjoyed a hearty breakfast and were excited for their first full day on the project!

The day involved a dynamic workshop focusing on creative animation and puppetry, inspired by George Orwell's classic novella, "Animal Farm." Our students joined their Belgian peers in an immersive, hands-on experience, transforming the timeless tale into vibrant animations and puppetry performances.

Guided by skilled instructors, the workshop encouraged students to delve deep into the themes of the story, using art and storytelling as powerful tools for expression. This collaborative effort not only honed their artistic skills but also fostered teamwork and cross-cultural friendships.

Exploring the History and Charm of Gent

Wednesday was a national holiday for Belgium, so the students had the opportunity to explore the charming city of Gent. Known for its picturesque canals and medieval architecture, Gent offered a perfect blend of history and modernity.

The day began with a visit to the magnificent Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress that provided a fascinating glimpse into the region's past. Wandering through its ancient halls and battlements, the students were transported back in time, imagining life in the days of knights and nobility.

The exploration continued with visits to Gent's other notable landmarks, including the stunning Saint Bavo's Cathedral, home to the famous Ghent Altarpiece, and the bustling Korenmarkt square, where students enjoyed local delicacies and soaked in the vibrant atmosphere.

Puppetry film continued and Sports Afternoon (Final day)

The final full day involved a visit to the local St Niklaas marketplace, to gather items to prepare for lunch. The activity incorporated functional lifeskills of seeking a variety of food items, and handling money.

The afternoon involved a number of sporting activities to complete the social aspects of the week.

One of our students was able to celebrate their 18th Birthday, a significant milestone, at an International Buffet in the evening with all involved in the project attending and celebrating yet again a hugely successful end to a worthwhile project.

A Celebration of Creativity and Culture

The trip to Saint Niklaas was more than just an educational excursion; it was a celebration of creativity and cultural exchange. Our students returned with a deeper appreciation for Belgian culture, newfound artistic, social and life skills, and lasting memories of their time abroad.

A special thank you to the staff and students of Saint Niklaas School for their warm hospitality and to the specialists who made the workshop a resounding success. We also extend our gratitude to the organisers of the Crossing Borders program for facilitating this invaluable experience.

"A brilliant trip to Belgium which enabled students to gain very valuable independence skills, including travel and self care, which all support life skills when students leave school and go out into the community." 

Rebecca Greig, Headteacher, Spring Common Academy