PUPILS took parents to all four point of the compass with an annual school project designed to prepare them for the world.

Now in its fifth year, Barnard Castle Preparatory School staged its annual Tourism Fair, a global extravaganza which is an important element of pupils’ Achievement Award, an alternative the school runs to SATs.

Children are assigned one of 12 countries, ranging from Italy, Portugal and Cyprus to China, Australia and America, spending weeks researching its culture, language, infrastructure and tourist attractions.

They then take over the school hall for the day setting out their country’s stall, featuring food, information and a host of artefacts.

Manager of Barnard Castle travel agents Kyle Travel Carol Hunter assesses each display and quizzes the children on their knowledge of their nation.

This year Mexico took the honours with Italy coming a close second and a joint third place featuring Japan and Australia.

Mrs Hunter said: “I love this event and every year the displays get better and better. This year is the best I have seen. I loved the interactive sports, the Mount ‘Fudgi’ chocolate and bullet train cakes on the Japan stall and the Mount Etna cake the Italy team had produced.

“Mexico just pinched the win with their depth of knowledge of the country. I learn such a lot from the children which I am able to use in my job as a travel agent.”

Barnard Castle Preparatory School head of geography Ruth Thompson said: “They really do immerse themselves in the culture of the country and we assess them on the work they do preparing for the fair as well as their performances on the day. They love it and have been so excited. It is also great to work with local business and to share children’s work with parents.”

Barnard Castle Preparatory School operates the Achievement Award in lieu of the Standard Assessment Tests, which have been criticised widely for causing Year 6 pupils unnecessary stress.

Headmistress Laura Turner said: “Children work throughout the whole of Year 6 on the Achievement Award which challenges them in every curriculum area in a much more engaging and relevant fashion than tests.

“These include a probability fair, an autobiography, biography and elements covering sport, drama and languages. As well as giving them in-depth core subject knowledge, this also hones a broad spectrum of soft skills, such as communications, teamwork, self-confidence, resilience and self-reliance, preparing them well for the world in which they will live.”