Enrichment Week 2023: Culture, history and fun in The Netherlands
Forty-four pupils and five staff travelled to The Netherlands on Monday 3 July 2023 for a fun-packed and educational five days during Enrichment Week 2023.
Did you know that The Netherlands and Holland are not interchangable names? The Netherlands consists of 12 provinces; the two provinces of Noord- and Zuid-Holland together are Holland.
During our week we stayed in a beautiful hostel in Den Haag (The Hague) in South Holland and from there we enjoyed daily excursions to places of interest in other provinces.
Tuesday found us at the wonderful Zaanse Schans, an open air museum of Dutch culture. We saw clogs being made, explored full-size working windmills and sampled many a cheese. There were traditional Dutch houses and shops full of interesting artefacts and manufacturing processes from a bygone era. The sun shone, pupils found it very pleasant and we all learnt a great deal.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the Tiki Pool water slide experience (21 slides!) at Duinrell theme park. We had a marvellous time as you might expect!
Our Wednesday in Amsterdam was a fabulous combination of culture and history. We began at the Van Gogh Museum. Recently refurbished and re-hung, the exhibition tells the fascinating story of Holland’s most famous son as he struggled in the most determined way to be the best painter he could be. Pupils loved taking a close-up look at his incredibly vibrant drawings and paintings.
From there we walked past many an intriguing shop and café to the Anne Frank House, one of the highlights of the trip. Pupils were immersed in the story of 13 year old Anne and her family as they tried in vain to escape persecution by the Nazis, hiding for two years in a secret annexe behind a bookcase. I was impressed by our pupils' mature approach to the whole experience. They emerged from the museum with a much richer sense of the reality of the Nazi occupation and the effect it had had on the people unfortunate enough to be caught in its grip.
Finally, after lunch en route, we arrived at Pier 1 for our canal cruise. Captain Ruud, educated and entertained us with stories about this fascinating city as we slid along in a glass-roofed canal boat. Pupils were particularly taken by the narrow merchant houses with their unusual roof types and characterful lean, as well as the houseboats which became popular in the 1970s due to a lack of space to build.
Thursday was Theme Park Day. Efteling theme park is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in Europe. Walt Disney himself visited the park as part of his research before designing the first Disneyland and he was clearly inspired by the clever use of animatronics, incredible attention to detail and the hair-raising rides. The weather was again kind to us and pupils and staff had a lovely time.
On Friday, our week complete, we journeyed home. After stopping briefly at a shopping centre in Lille, we boarded the ferry at Calais and sailed back to the UK across a glittering sea.
Many thanks to Ms Cato, Miss Simpson, Mrs Miller and Mrs Hobson who were all outstanding practitioners and a massive thank you to all the pupils, who really were a credit to the school.
Mr Armshaw, Trip Leader