THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of Chipping Norton School’s German Exchange with the Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium in Nördlingen.

The exchange started after a regional partnership between Oxfordshire and the Bavarian region of Schwaben led to the meeting of the then head of Chipping Norton School, Arthur Nockles, and Dr Alexander Kessler. Initially visiting each other in alternate years, the exchange now takes place on a yearly basis and over the years has enabled hundreds of students to experience family and school life in a different country and form many long lasting friendships.

In the run-up to the celebrations, there have been lots of stories of great experiences and of families who are still great friends over 30 years after doing the exchange.

Students taking part in recent years often have parents or other family members who also took part in the exchange.

In fact the grandfather of one of the German students who was visiting us this year took part in the very first visit to Chipping Norton back in 1968.

The German teachers have been over many times and their bus driver, Peter Rapp, has just completed his 22nd visit to Chipping Norton. 

To celebrate this remarkable achievement Chipping Norton School hosted an event for their German guests and their host families.

The school’s concert band treated guests to some great music, and MFL teacher Mrs Thomas, Headteacher Mr Doherty, Herr Aunkofer and Chipping Norton’s mayor, Councillor Don Davidson spoke about the importance of exchange programmes.

The Mayor presented the German teachers with a glass engraved with the coat of arms of Chipping Norton.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening was a shadow puppet play performed in German by some of the Chipping Norton students telling the story of the saving of Nördlingen in 1440 by a pig!