More than 20 visitors arrived in Chippenham from China last week in a cultural exchange hosted by Sheldon School.

The 20 11-year-olds and two teachers are spending 13 weeks immersing themselves in Wiltshire life and improving their English language skills, while attending Sheldon and staying with their fellow pupils’ families.

They come from a city in east China near Shanghai called Suzhou, often dubbed the Venice of the East, with a population of 10.5 million.

On April 23 they met Chippenham mayor Sylvia Gibson and were given a historical tour of the town by Andrew Skelton from Chippenham Museum. They also met town crier Dennis Phillips, who was showing off his robes for the first time in public.

Sue Carter, China partnership co-ordinator at Sheldon School, said: “Chippenham is much smaller than what they’re used to and they love all the green spaces. They’re not sure about the weather, as it is 27C in Suzhou at the moment. They’re adjusting to the food, they’re not used to potatoes or pastry.

“Their English is already very good and there are lots of friendships forming. Our kids will learn a lot about Chinese culture as well.”

About 15 Sheldon students from Years 9 to 11 will be visiting Suzhou for 10 days in October.