Ballymitty teachers visit schools in France – .

Ballymitty teachers visit schools in France – .

Staff from Ballymitty National School in Wexford traveled to France to see new technologies and educational practices abroad for students with special needs, especially autism.

The trip to Nice of Headmistress Audrey McCarthy, ASD Class Teacher Bríd Casey, Specialist Teacher Tríona Bohanna and Specialist Assistant Rose McLoughlin, was funded by an EU Erasmus program called Mobility.

Ballymitty NS has secured funding to allow four staff members to match up to schools in three different countries during the school year, with visits to Spain and Italy scheduled for next spring.

The first day of the French visit took place at St. Marten de Foret kindergarten in the Mougins region of Nice, which includes a class for autistic students.

“In France, these classes are called UEMA. It was great to meet the staff who work with autistic students and see the resources, equipment and programs they use, ”said Audrey.

It was very different from Ireland, as occupational therapists, psychologists and speech language pathologists work alongside staff in classrooms a few days a week.

“The staff at Ballymitty NS were able to see what technologies and applications are in use, especially for language and communication.

The Irish delegation visited the primary school where it was allowed to enter the classrooms to meet the pupils.

The second day saw the visit of the Rectorate of Nice, departmental service of national education of the region which supports the national educational policy and accompanies the schools in its implementation.

The Wexford group met a teacher who trains other teachers and provides them with support and resources around foreign language teaching.

“She explained how English is taught and most of the methodologies she mentioned overlap with how we teach Irish. One difference, however, is that in France they only introduce the written form of a second language once the spoken language has been acquired. ”Said Audrey.

They heard about the assistant exchange program, whereby anyone with a basic level of French is invited to travel to France to help in local schools for 12 hours a week and receive assistance at a rate of base during his stay.

“This is organized by French Education Internationale and would probably appeal to someone on a career break or traveling to France to learn the language.

“We have a lot of ideas on how to make our own school more inclusive. We met Laetitia Spreiregen who, with an Inspector, set up a magnificent program between pupils from a school in the city of Nice and visually impaired pupils from a mountain school.

This project was called Stones, Leaves, Pens – a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors and was organized with the aim of bringing students together to experience the mountain, regardless of their ability or disability. and it impacted all the kids in ways they could never have imagined.

On the third day of the Erasmus mobility, the group visited the Rossetti Institute, an institution for children and young adults with profound physical and intellectual difficulties, and met happy students and a team of teachers and assistants as well than speech therapists and linguists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists.

“The school had a therapeutic pool and a new gymnasium. Students also stay in one of the 20 rooms available to them. Facilities like these are not common in France but it was amazing to see and hear all they can do for these students, ”said the headmaster of Wexford.

“This trip was a great opportunity to see how certain regions of France are developing a long-term policy for pupils and adults with specific needs. It was also great to know that the work being done at Ballymitty NS School is well advanced in so many ways.

The Erasmus project is expected to continue in April and May next year when more staff visit schools in Tarragona, Spain, and Piacenza, Italy.

After that, the school plans to take the pupils to visit other schools in Europe. A fund of € 34,000 has been secured for next year when staff will accompany three groups of 10 students on educational trips abroad.

“Getting students and staff to see other schools abroad has been a project that I’ve been interested in for some time and it’s a rare and wonderful opportunity for everyone,” said Audrey.


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