A Ripon time for school penpals

ALL ABOARD ...  Pupils from  Monkton infants and  Sharow CE  primary school Ripon have a day at the park.
ALL ABOARD ... Pupils from Monkton infants and Sharow CE primary school Ripon have a day at the park.

SCHOOLCHILDREN in South Tyneside are making big strides after they formed a “special” link with a school in North Yorkshire.

Pupils at Monkton Infant School in St Simon Street, South Shields, have annual exchange visits with Sharow Primary in Ripon.

The youngsters have also become pen pals, and teachers say the relationship improves their skills in geography and English, and makes them more aware of the outside world.

Almost 100 children from the Ripon school were in South Shields on Tuesday, where they were given a tour of the town.

They joined Monkton youngsters at Littlehaven Beach, South Marine Park, and also spent time at the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in Sea Road.

Clare Askwith, deputy headteacher at Monkton Infants’, said: “We had a great day and I think our visitors brought the sunshine with them, because it was glorious.

“Our children really enjoy making new friends and it was great for them to spend a day with different people. It was a complete change and it was a lot of fun.”

The link between the schools was formed in September 2010, and the visit was the third meeting of pupils from both schools, after two successful exchange visits last year.

Mrs Askwith explained: “I was aware of Sharow Primary School because my two nephews both attended it.

“The link helps the children see environments away from their doorstep, and takes them to places they might otherwise not see.”

Children have also been paired with Sharow ‘buddies’ for letter writing, which encourages them to become pen friends.

Mrs Askwith added: “It has enabled the pupils to make friends, and all of the letters are handwritten.

“People often say that letter writing is a dying art, and that everything is done using computers these days, but our children are doing it the traditional way.”

In July, pupils from Monkton Infant School will travel to North Yorkshire for a tour of Ripon Cathedral and the town’s Spa Gardens.

Twitter: @shieldsgazjoe