WANBOROUGH played host to 36 French school children this week as part of an exciting cross-Channel exchange.

Kids at Wanborough Primary School have been corresponding as pen pals with their peers at the Ecole du Lac near the French city of Poitiers for about a year.

On Monday the children, all aged between nine and 11, were able to meet in person for the first time.

The Ecole du Lac pupils have spent the week in the UK, dividing their time between visits to Oxford and Windsor and time spent at the school.

They spent Wednesday and Thursday night at the homes of host families in Wanborough and surrounding villages.

Pam Hook, who teaches French at the school and organises the programme, said: “We formed a link with the school about five years ago. We’ve been out there for the last two years but this is the first time that children from France have come here.

“Our kids absolutely loved it, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

“The children from France were very excited about this week — a little nervous but they have really embraced it.

“Our children have been really welcoming too.”

At such a young age the language skills of the children are somewhat limited, but that has not held them back. Eleven-year-old Lucy Walker joked that she has been having great conversations with her pen pal turned real-life friend by using a mixture of French, English and a lot of miming.

“We’ve been eating traditional English food, playing games and singing English songs,” explained Lucy.

“It was really nice to meet my pen pal, Enorah.”

Yesterday the school pulled out all the stops with a traditional cream tea, to the delight of the pupils.

Stéphane Jeamet, who teaches the equivalent of year six at the Ecole du Lac, said: “The children have really enjoyed it.

“They don’t speak much English, only some very easy sentences. But they are progressing so quickly — in just a few days they are learning lots of new sentences and new words.”

In June, the children from Wanborough will cross the Channel to spend the week in France.

Stéphane and his colleagues are looking forward to welcoming them for the return trip.