Pupils in County Durham will now have even more opportunities to learn from their French counterparts after a new agreement was signed.

The education cooperation agreement, signed by Durham County Council and the Académie d’Amiens, will create even more links between the county and France.

The council has been linked to the Somme County in northern France since 1980, with over 130 individual school partnerships already in place across pupils of all ages. The relationship was highlighted in July when 100 pupils from schools across County Durham took part in the official centenary commemorations of the Battle of the Somme at the Thiépval Memorial.

The académie is the education authority for the three French counties which lie to the north of Paris – Somme, Oise and Aisne – and oversees all provision from nursery schools to universities.

The signing of the agreement, by the chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Edward Bell and Madame Valérie Cabuil, the recteur of the Académie d’Amiens – the head of the regional French education ministry office – will mean even more opportunities for schools, pupils and teachers in the county.

As well as a number of potential new projects to be developed between the two regions, the agreement will also mean new school links, allowing classes to practise their language skills by skyping and video conferencing with each other. Pupils will also be able to improve their international job prospects with a number of opportunities for young people following vocational routes to take part in visits and placements.

As well as benefits for the pupils, the agreement will also see more staff training opportunities – especially for primary teachers – in addition to more sharing of best practice between the bilingual teachers from the two areas.

Cllr Edward Bell, said: “We’re extremely proud of the close relationship we have with France and the amazing opportunities it has already provided to generations of County Durham pupils.

“In signing this agreement we can look forward to an even brighter future for our pupils and teachers, who will learn and visit with their French counterparts.”

In addition to signing the agreement, Mme Valérie Cabuil, has also used her visit to tour a number of the regions schools that already benefit from links with France.

Mme Valérie Cabuil, said: “I was delighted to visit Durham, to sign and renew this agreement.

“We must now continue to strive to assist schools, both individually and collectively, to reinforce existing collaborations and foster new ones.”