STUDENTS from southern Africa took a harbour cruise, competed in sports day and even went to a prom during their visit to a Poole school.

The 12 exchange visitors, from South Africa and Namibia, divided their time in the UK between the Wirral Grammar Schools and Poole Grammar.

In Dorset, they took a cruise around Poole Harbour and visited Studland, Durlston Head, Swanage and Corfe Castle.

At school, the visitors were part of a maths lesson with an Ofsted inspector present, and worked with the school’s poet in residence.

They took part in sports day, in the presence of Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke, and some went to the year 11 prom at Compton Acres.

Teacher Andy Oldman, who organised the trip, said both sets of students had learned from the exchange.

“It was a culture shock. They were really taken in by the differences in culture and the differences and similarities in education,” he said.

The African students work with 60 pupils in a classroom and old textbooks instead of IT. “Very few of them have gone out of their own town at home, let alone a different country. They’re very excited about what happened over here,” said Mr Oldman.

Although the British Council sponsored the adult travel for the trip, the children’s transport was paid for by fundraising, including mufti days.

The school is looking for business sponsors as it tries to finalise a visit by 8-10 local students to Africa.

Mr Oldman said the trip had made the boys realise how fortunate they were.

“They know that in comparison they are onto a good thing here and therefore looking forward to going out there and experiencing what those children do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.