One of our aims of our Turing Scheme application was to develop a network of partner schools in France, so that all children can communicate for real purpose with a child of a similar age. We chose to contact schools in Normandy, because towns in Devon were traditionally twinned with towns in Normandy following the end of the second world war. Furthermore, Year 6 pupils had been learning about 20th Century conflict this year, and we wanted to deepen learning about World War 2.
The school we were able to visit and learn with this year was the Cecil Newton School in Creully Sur Seulles. The Cecil Newton Primary School is named after Cecil Newton, a veteran tank gunner who served in the liberation of Western Europe. Until 2017, the school was simply named ‘the school at the end of the field’, because it was originally surrounded by fields and it was a name the students had chosen. As the town grew, and housing estates grew around the school, the students were asked to rename the school.
Cecil Newton arrived on Gold Beach on the 6th June 1944 with his squadron the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards. 124 men from his squadron landed, in ‘swimming’ duplex drive Sherman tanks on a beach just to the west of the British Normandy Memorial. Over half of Cecil’s troop were killed on the 6th June 1944, and many now lie in the Bayeux Cemetery. Cecil Newton survived, and made his way towards the town of Creully with the remainder of his troop, where they liberated the town from the German troops.
Cecil has attended the 6th June commemorations in Creully, including last year when he was 98 years old. He is not attending this year, but they are making plans for the 80th anniversary next summer. Pupils from the Cecil Newton school read out the names of those who died trying to liberate the town of Creully on the 6th June.
When we were in Normandy, we enjoyed visiting the British Normandy Memorial and Bayeux with our French penpals. In the French school, our pupils took part in sport, art and drama activities alongside French pupils. Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust teachers and pupils enjoyed visiting a range of classrooms across the school, playing Uno and Dominoes with the youngest pupils was a real highlight of the trip. We also enjoyed tasting a variety of Normandy specialities such as apple cake, and rice pudding that were prepared by the parents.
We are very grateful to Karine Crinon, and her colleagues at the Cecil Newton School for all their hospitality and support with organising such a brilliant range of activities and we hope to welcome them to Devon in the future.
Our aim is to increase the number of partner schools, so that each school has their own school. North Tawton has started writing to pupils in Blangy-le-chateau. Chagford pupils are writing to a school in Betton. Boasley Cross and Lydford have been writing to Nonant, and we will be working with the Nonant twinning association on our next trip to France in July. We also have a new partner school close to the British Normandy Memorial in Ver sur Mer.