Students and staff visited Murrhardt, Frome’s twin town in Germany, as part of a Thematic Networking project between towns in France, Germany, Poland and the UK and stayed with host German families.
There was a lot to fit in the four day trip including attending a workshop that explored the idea of ‘the digital future’ and the expansion of broadband internet services in the twin towns. There was representation from a company called WIK Net from Rabka-Zdrój (Frome’s Polish twin town) who is implementing high quality internet access via fibre using GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) technology and multipoint transmitters located around the local area.
The Frome based company, Field, founded this year, are a new community-owned internet service provider, using modern wireless technology, similar to the transmitters used in Poland, Field deliver superfast internet to homes, schools and businesses in rural areas.
During the trip, we met a woman who was on the very first Town Twinning visit to Frome over 20 years ago. Mrs Dale found herself next to Karin Galan during one of the workshops on Vocational Training and Vocational Exchange in the Twin Towns and there followed a series of coincidences. Karin told her she was one of the first school exchange students among a group of 34 from Murrhardt in October 1983. Now 46 and an interior designer, she has fond memories of attending Drama lessons in the Merlin Theatre and of her host family in Frome.
Karin is a member of Murrhardt Chamber of Commerce and a firm believer in close links between schools and businesses. Her father, a former Chief at the Bosch Company in Murrhardt, (Twinning members had visited Bosch that same morning) set up some years ago a programme to promote such links. His idea has been widely adopted in the region. At the end of the workshop it was proposed to establish a networking platform by March 2016 between the 4 twin towns of Frome, Murrhardt, Chateau-Gontier in France and Rabka-Zdroj in Poland. Karen volunteered to be the contact for the Murrhardt Group.
The Plant Notes team went as part of the students group and thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the academic life of students in Germany was different to ours. The trip was also a great opportunity to network and meet many new industry experts, while promoting the Plant Notes project to representatives from Poland, France and Germany, during a workshop discussing vocational training.
The team were given the opportunity to discuss their project and impressed everyone with an engaging speech about their journey and how vocational training in Frome has been a big part of their education.
There was also a workshop about the ways in which the other twin towns approach schooling and the problems they face. For example in Germany at the age of 10, it is decided whether a student should take a vocational or academic route. This influences whether they are able to attend university, or follow a vocational route and go straight into work or apprenticeship. It was fascinating to think that at such a young age this is decided for them and how different schooling and apprenticeship approaches are in the other towns.
Lisa Millard, Assistant Principal, said "The students and staff at Frome College who attended the Twinning event would like to thank Frome Town Twinning Association and Frome Town Council for inviting us to attend. It has been very fruitful trip that will undoubtedly lead to greater opportunities for cultural exchange and the development of employable skills in the future."
Report by Harry Foreman on behalf of Plant Notes in Year 13