Sharing an experience on the work with special needs pupils

The project works with functional disorders and provided an opportunity to improve the vocational capacity of teachers working with such children.

Riga Special Boarding Primary School No 5 (Latvia) implemented the mobility project "Mobility project for capacity building of teachers’ professional” within the framework of the programme Nordplus Junior 2014 until 31 August 2015. Experience exchange took place among the schools in Norrköping, Sweden. Armbandet preschool, Klockaretorps primary/ secondary school and Geergymnasiet primary/ secondary school participated in the project.  Pupils in said schools have functional disorders and project provided an opportunity to improve the vocational capacity of teachers working with such children.

New impressions and observations

In order to learn about the education methods applied by the foreign colleagues, to observe lessons and to discuss the new teaching methods, teachers from Latvia went to Norrköping educational establishments in experience exchange visit. Swedish colleagues in their turn visited schools in Latvia, both in Riga and Cēsis region.  

 "Six of our teachers had an opportunity to learn more about the work of the Swedish counterparts and it must be admitted that this experience was inspiring. Even though we already use many of teaching methods, we were pleasantly surprised about the structured and systematic way the education takes place in these schools and to what extent education methods are personalized teaching of an individual child. I hope that also in Latvia we will be able to ensure at least some part of technical aids which are used in similar Swedish schools," project coordinator Iluta Vilnīte tells.

From experience to practical application in the teaching process

Educators involved in the project actively use the obtained professional knowledge and skills in the teaching process. I. Vilnīte reveals:

"Following the project we have implemented several innovative teaching approaches in our work, which we learned in Sweden. One of them is so called box system when the daily tasks of a pupil in various subjects are divided in boxes. A child takes the particular box and understands what kind of tasks he or she must accomplish.

We also learned alternative communication methods which we have started to apply, for instance, in creating special student journals.  Following the Swedish example we have also introduced in Latvia ergotherapist services for pupils with functional disorders. We actively link the learning process with practical skills.

A key to successful project - interest and responsiveness

When describing the cooperation with the parties involved in the project I. Vilnīte admits:

"All the parties involved in the project were responsive and showed interest thus bringing an opportunity to attend more educational establishments than planned at the beginning. Therefore mobility participants gained much wider experience."

Project coordinator holds an opinion that previously implemented cooperation with one of Swedish schools facilitated a successful course of the project. This time it was possible to skip the introduction phase, therefore communication was already more certain and efficient, making the experience deeper.

With a view on future

"In my opinion projects of such kind diversify the work of teachers and makes school life more interesting, besides new initiatives flourish in such environment. For example, we saw that the alternative communication methods - with symbols and pictures - are very well developed in Sweden. We want to develop this direction also in our country therefore we already are on our way to implement the next Nordplus project which will focus on alternative communication.  It considerably extends socialisation opportunities for pupils with functional disorders.

Equipped with new knowledge and experience, we have shared it with other special educational establishments in Latvia and we will continue to do so also in future. We sincerely recommend all schools which have not yet participated in Nordplus projects to embrace this opportunity, because both project participants and school life together gained a lot" summarizes I. Vilnīte.