Comenius visit to Latvia
Miss Samani, Miss Charlton and Miss Leonidas visited Latvia from 2nd – 6th October,to visit our partner school. Veselvas speciala pirmsskolas izglitibas iestade, which is a Kindergarten for pupils aged 3 – 7 years who have special educational needs. It is situated in a small village near the town of Cesis, which is about a 2 hour drive from the capital city of Riga. There are 50 pupils at the school, 12 teachers and 16 support staff and the school offers a boarding facility, 33 pupils stay overnight from Monday to Friday, while the others go home as their families are local residents. They utilise their local environment fully in their pupils' learning by having lessons in the forest classroom that they have created. We were treated to a lovely Harvest celebration, which all of the pupils participated in and the whole school was beautifully decorated in a Harvest theme with Autumn leaves, conkers, fruit and vegetables displayed everywhere. We also visited 2 other schools in the area, one newly built and we were very jealous of their huge hall which is fully equipped with lighting, sound and a huge stage, as well as their magnificent sports hall and their Autistic unit which has a sensory room attached to it. It is interesting to note that they have the opposite problem to us, they have falling rolls and currently have available spaces in their schools. This is because the population is decreasing as Latvians are emigrating to other European countries, the population in Cesis has decreased from 19,000 to 10,000.
We had a range of new experiences: visiting the historic Cesis Castle and climbing the tower in candlelight. Baking black bread, which is very traditional in the region. We were able to bring the loaves home, though we were worried about our luggage allowance on the budget airline that we used! We also took part in some traditional Latvian folk dancing too, which was great fun.
We were fortunate to have a very engaging guide who told us about the country’s very recent history which made us appreciate how lucky we are in this country. Visiting the Freedom Monument in central Riga was quite a moving, thought provoking moment for us all.