Home from Holland.

Eleven Year 9 pupils from Bath Community Academy (BCA) are back at school in Odd Down after returning home from a week-long stay with Dutch families in Bath’s twin city, Alkmaar.

For several in the group it was their first trip abroad – a visit their teacher has described as potentially life-changing.

BCA pupils in Alkmaar

The BCA pupils and staff with some of their Dutch hosts, having fun at a barbeque in Alkmaar

During their visit, the pupils home-stayed with Dutch children and their families, giving them an insight into life in a different country. They cycled to school each morning with their new Dutch friends, visited Amsterdam and The Hague, were VIP guests at Alkmaar Town Council, and even learned to speak a little Dutch as part of their lessons.

The visit was sponsored and coordinated by the Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association, as part of the 70th Anniversary celebrations marking the link between the two cities.

BCA pupi;s in Town Council office

BCA pupils in the Alkmaar Town Council Chamber

Teacher Andrew Mackney from BCA, who helped organise the trip and travelled with the children, said it had already had an impact on the group:

“This visit has given several of the students their first opportunity to spread their wings and see life outside Bath and England. A trip to Alkmaar is a great first step abroad. The Dutch families were incredibly hospitable – one even took a week off work to help host our visit – and any trip to this twin city is a bit special, because of the history of our link.”

In 1946, over 100 children from Bath were invited by Alkmaar to visit the city for a post-war Summer holiday. The Dutch people wanted to express thanks to the people of Bath for the help given to Akmaar immediately following the war, when food, clothing and funds were donated following a war-time famine in Holland known as the ‘Hunger Winter’.

BCA pupils and Barrel piano

BCA pupils visit the famous Bath barrel piano in Alkmaar

“The impact on the students has been immense,” said Andrew Mackney. “ They are absolutely buzzing, and several have said to me and colleagues that the trip is the best thing to ever happen to them. The trip has massively broadened their horizons and opened up new opportunities for them.”

The School and Twinning Association are now discussing how further such visits can be arranged in the future.