Students set for ground-breaking journey to Iraq

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A GROUP of brave Bury St Edmunds teenagers are to journey to Iraq for a ‘ground-breaking’ school venture.

Four students from King Edward VI School will visit two schools in the once war-torn Gulf state in March to share their leadership skills.

The trip to Kurdistan, which has been sanctioned by the British Council, is understood to be the first of its kind.

Headteacher Geoff Barton, who visited the recovering nation with three other teachers last year, said: “There have never been any students sent across there before.

“It’s a ground-breaking venture and an extraordinary experience to gain an insight into a different culture as well as challenge their personal and leadership skills.”

Staff have yet to decide which students, aged 16 to 17, will take part in the once in a lifetime opportunity.

The project moves forward today when the school welcomes Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan region’s high representative in the UK, and Gary Kent, from the Kurdistan All-Party Parliamentary Group, who will talk to students and teachers. Staff will then start selecting students, who have to be ‘exceptional leaders’, next week.

Mr Barton said: “They will work with students over there initially on sports skills and show them how we would use older students to teach younger ones.”

They will be joined by two members of staff – likely to be assistant head Rob Walden and PE teacher Danny Burton, who went to Iraq last November and are familiar with the relevant schools and hotel.

The group will also be accompanied by an official from the British Council.

An information evening will be held for parents to discuss security issues and travel arrangements.

On the issue of safety, Mr Barton added: “Kurdistan is a very safe area.

“Parents will feel reassured that all of the security issues have been thought through.”

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who has backed the trip, said: “I understand from parliamentary colleagues it is a safe, stable and dynamic part of Iraq.”