HAVING to negotiate Cheltenham traffic during Gold Cup Week, it was a racing certainty that a coach load of French pupils en-route from Oxford to Cinderford would arrive late.

But, in spite of being an hour behind schedule, the group of 54 students and five teachers, soon made up for lost time re-acquainting themselves with friends at Forest High School.

The Gallic invasion from College Roger Vercel in Britanny, was a reciprocal visit following a Cinderford group trip to Dinan last year as part of a ‘pen pal’ project between the two schools.

The French group spent most of the day in Cinderford, taking part in a treasure hunt’, before returning to Oxford via Cheltenham race traffic in the late afternoon.

French teacher Jane Temperton said: “The visit went really really well and the French pupils enjoyed themselves and took part in several lessons.

“Our pupils also had a great time and some of them phoned their parents so that they could accompany their French friends on a shopping trip to Gloucester Quays.

“I think it has also prompted quite a few of our pupils to express an interest in taking up French because they now see it as a real language and not something remote and far away.

“We are now looking forward to other planned French visits here in May and July this year.”