Pupils and staff from a Pembrokeshire school are taking part in an exchange programme with schools in Belgium and Sweden.

Members of the  group from Portfield School in Haverfordwest have been sharing their experiences with the minister for education and Welsh language, Jeremy Miles.

The first visit was made to Bruges in Belgium last November, with one of the nine pupils involved, Ellie, describing it as ‘life-changing’.

The exchange is being made possible by funding from Taith -  the Welsh Government's international learning programme.

This enabled the school to access the specialist equipment needed for a foreign exchange trip, such as hiring a specialist bus which makes accessible travel possible for disabled people.

Taith provides opportunities for learners, young people and staff in every type of education and youth setting to travel abroad to learn, as well as allowing organisations to invite their international partners to come and visit Wales.

The involvement in the project by Portfield will enable pupils from years eight to 11 and staff  to visit other additional learning needs schools in Uppsala, Sweden and Flanders, Belgium.

Many of the Portfield pupils had never previously been abroad.

The funding also enables pupils and staff from the partner schools to visit Wales this summer, enabling pupils' friendships to strengthen and provide further social and academic experiences.

Greater levels of independence and communication skills are just some of the benefits the pupils have gained from their Taith experience.

Ellie, one of the nine Portfield pupils who visited Belgium in November 2023 said: "For me it was life-changing because you actually got to see what the children did in the school. My favourite part was the art. We made cardboard Christmas trees with wool around them.

“I would tell people to go to Bruges to see the Christmas markets. The thing that was special was how big they were and how there were loads of different stalls. It was the time of my life, it truly was.”

Jeremy Miles added: “It really is fantastic to see the impact Taith is having, enabling us to break down barriers to international exchange and opening up opportunities for all.

“It’s been great to speak to pupils and staff at Portfield School about how their Taith trip has helped build confidence, broaden horizons, and grow aspirations.

“I would encourage schools and all educational settings across Wales to apply for Taith funding. The latest application window is open now and closes on March 20.”

Since launching in 2022, Taith – the Welsh Government’s international learning exchange programme – has awarded funding to support nearly 12,000 learners and staff to learn, study and volunteer at over 90 countries