Lakeside Visits Bubao St Gerdardus

For our final visit 6 of us from Lakeside - Liz, Susie, Rosie, Hannah, Yvonne and Tanis travelled by Eurostar and various other trains to Genk, near Diepenbeek. We were extremely lucky to experience summer temperatures of up to 28 degrees C! This was the last stage of the Comenius project between our two partner schools, learning through eachother the topic of Stories and Communication. On the Thursday morning we were welcomed in assembly by the students, singing our Comenius song Ode to Joy in Flemish. We went on to sing in English and our Czech partners sang their Czech version. We had opportunities to see the whole St Gerdardus site, visiting the riding stables, day centre and residential units. We particularly liked the tuck shop which was very well organised, and portable, but rather large for Lakeside! There were fantastic opportunities for students of all abilities to go horse riding with the hoist available. The grounds were picturesque, and there were opportunities for students to have their own allotments too. During the afternnon we visited the barefoot trail, nearby. It certainly was a huge sensory experience for our feet! This has given us many ideas to use back at school for both sensory barefoot trails and a sensory walk with different surfaces for wheelchair users. We visited the cultural centre of C Mines which was a coal mine back in the 1980s. The buildings were huge, and their change of use to a museum and cultural centre were excellent. On the Friday the visitors all took part in lessons with Belgian students, both observing and teaching. We taught the students about holidays and the English seaside, including packing a suitcase, decorating T shirts, singing English songs including the old favourites- I do like to be beside the seaside and Summer Holiday! This was even translated into Flemish, for us all to sing. Students then gave us a show, with singing and dancing and we said our farewe;lls. We learnt so many new ideas, partically practical ways to undertake tasks for students with physical disabilities e.g. the use of simple paint brush / pen holders. Students were thinking about Father's Day, hence the shaving activity. We all shared Powerpoints with our partners on the impact of the Comenius project on our schools. We have all learnt so much from each other and have many areas of our schools which has changed due to this project. This includes the increased use of Ipads at Lakeside, the opportunities for teaching assistants to take part in the Comenius work shadowing programme, and different ways to structure classrooms in particular working with students with autism. There have been many other cultural experiences we have learnt about, and made friends with teachers from our partner schools sharing stories and ways of life we take for granted and are new to them. SAC has certainly been a fasinating opportunity for staff and students alike and we hope to be successful in a future project. This is a great stepping stone towards learning more from other partner schools in the future. We would like to say a big thankyou to the Belgium partners for an excellent final meeting.

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