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Activities day trip to Dunkirk and Saint Omer, France

44 students traveled to northern France on activities day to visit the site of the Dunkirk evacuations and La Coupole near Saint Omer.

Activities Day on July 21st 2016 saw Hayesbrook pupils venture far and wide across the UK. Students were given an opportunity to choose from 10 different options including 'Footgolf', the Tate Modern, The Globe Theatre, Hastings day trip, Cadburys World, Chessington and paintballing.

44 early risers also traveled to northern France to follow a more historical path. Following last year’s successful visit to the Somme region, this year the students were able to visit the site of the Dunkirk evacuations in World War 2 and the truly breath taking La Coupole near Saint Omer.

As you can see from the images of our first visit to Musée Dunkerque, the pupils were able to view hundreds of relics from WW2 including tank turrets, maps, images, weaponry and video resources. It was a surprise to all of us to find out that many French soldiers were rescued during the evacuation but where then sent back - only to be taken prisoner of war.

The pupils were quick to find airplane relics including a rare Hawker Typhoon engine and propeller on the far left
Billy Hodges gets to grips with some of the weaponry
Ryan Athey enjoys posing in a French tank turret, complete with Beret!
Eimantas Ramanauskas salutes as Jos Athey and Alex Hearfield investigate some of the relics

After a quick stop for lunch it was time to hop back on the coach and travel west towards Saint Omer. Our destination was La Coupole, which was a WW2 mega structure designed to launch V1 and V2 rockets towards the UK. Fortunately, the site was discovered before any of the rockets were launched but the impact on the those who were forced to build it was a significant contributing factor to the awe and wonder of our visit.

When you arrive at La Coupole you are given a headset and then you embark down a long, cold, damp and atmospheric tunnel. The students were fascinated to see and read all of the displays. On entry to the main section of the site the pupils were able to view and listen to a video about rocket technology in WW2 and how it links to their lives today. They were also able to investigate key moments of the war including some harrowing images of the Holocaust.

Something interesting on the horizon!  La Coupole dominates the sky line in this part of France
Headsets at the ready, off we go!
So much to take in, deep underground in La Coupole

After three hours at the site it was time for a trip to the cafe and then onto the 3D planetarium. This really was the most amazing experience for the staff and pupils. We were treated to a journey through space and then the history of flight where lots of ducking and laughing could be seen and heard.

We arrived back at school just after 11pm and were met by lots of eager parents who were keen to find out what the boys had seen and heard in France. The pupils were full of praise for the trip and were really positive that they had been the first group of students representing The Hayesbrook School to visit the two sites .

Assistant Principal and trip leader Mr Reader said: "The two locations really were awe inspiring and a stark reminder of the recent historical events which have helped to shape our world. The next time that these students discuss WW2 in History lessons they will be able to draw on their experiences in France on July 21st 2016. What a superb way to end the academic year."