Sharing experience in vocational training from Romania and the UK
14 August 2014
Posted by Gary Hyndman
The idea that the Sense College (link to Sense UK website) might help to support the work of Sense International (Romania) came during a visit by international colleagues two years ago when Cristiana Salomie, Director of Sense International Romania, outlined the vocational projects that had been set up in three special schools in Romania.
We realised there was an obvious overlap in the aims of the Romanian project and what we were doing at the College. It was agreed that we would work together to share good practice and to support with the development of a specialist vocational curriculum.
So I spent a whirlwind week in Romania in May visiting the three special schools that host the vocational projects. Cristiana was my guide as we travelled across Romania by plane, train and automobile.
First stop was Bucharest and the St Mary Special Middle School for the Hearing Impaired where the typography project is located. I joined the six students on the project as they worked on producing a booklet of photos taken while they were on a short break in the mountains. The group are looking at local opportunities to produce and market their work and products.
From Bucharest we took a short internal flight to Lasi to visit the Special Technology High School. Here we met students marzipan modelling in the mini kitchen. The skill and dexterity of the students as they turned lumps of marzipan into beautiful intricate flowers was remarkable. The finished articles are boxed and sold locally to people who use them to decorate cakes and for table features. The school is also home to an excellent early intervention project.
Next we drove for five hours through beautiful countryside to Galati to spend time at the Special School for Deaf Children. SI Romania has supported the school in setting up a large greenhouse to provide learners with work skills that will improve their ability to contribute to the local community and find employment. I was shown around the greenhouse and had the project explained to me by the enthusiastic teenagers who were very proud of the plants and vegetables they had grown.
At each of the three schools I met with multi-sensory impairment (MSI) teachers whose enthusiasm and creativity was amazing. They work in an environment of limited resource and are innovative through necessity. When talking to the teachers the interpreter was almost not required. The challenges they face were familiar to me and I was delighted to be able to support the process and offer to work collaboratively on problems we had not been able to solve alone.
The children I met had the same aspirations and concerns as those with whom we work. They are concerned by what will happen when they leave school, what future awaits them and their friends - a concern shared by their family and teachers. At present there is no post-sixteen provision for them. Sense International Romania is working hard to establish vocational centres that will continue the excellent work of the vocational projects I was lucky enough to see on my visit.
Gary Hyndman is Vice President, Quality and Curriculum at Sense College in the UK
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First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Thursday 18 September 2014