MAYOR Rex Barnett was handed gifts from his French equivalent after school children returned from a recent exchange trip.

Steve Flavin, head at Churchfields, bought back a number of books about the city Poitiers, in central-west France, given to him when students and teachers visited Jules Verne school in December.

The exchange trip was part of a two year partnership, which involves children from both schools visiting each other to learn about respective cultures.

Teachers from Churchfields also made the trip to teach English as well as helping to organise other activities.

Mr Flavin said: “We’ve got a link between three schools – the other two being in Finland and Mauritius – and we’ve just won a national award for our international schools’ work.

“The books were given to us by the mayor of Buxerolles, a town near Poitiers.

“We presented him with a cut glass gift with our school’s crest on it.”

Receiving the gifts, Coun Barnett said: “We’re very pleased with the gifts and we shall make use of them, maybe we can put them in the library so everyone can see.

“Projects like this help to explain ourselves and our culture to people around the world.”

While in France, children attended a European drama festival and Churchfields are hoping to host a similar event in 2012.

Helga Maddock, modern foreign languages co-ordinator, said: “We are looking to apply for funding from Comenius (a programme funded by the EU) to be able to organise a European drama festival around the time of the Olympics in 2012.

“The festival will probably include more subjects, aside from drama.

“Many children made friends after the recent drama festival – it is a really great experience.”

Children from Buxerolles are due to visit Swindon in February and are expected to meet the mayor.