Ballymitty teachers visit schools in France

France/October 27, 2021/By: Maria Pepper/Source:

Exchange trip was funded by the Erasmus Programme

Staff of Ballymitty national school in Wexford travelled to France to view new technology and education practices abroad for pupils with special needs, especially autism.

The trip to Nice by principal Audrey McCarthy, ASD class teacher Bríd Casey, special education teacher Tríona Bohanna and special needs assistant Rose McLoughlin, was funded by an EU Erasmus programme called Mobility.

Ballymitty NS has secured funding to allow four staff members to job shadow in schools in three different countries during the course of the academic year with visits to Spain and Italy planned for next spring.

The first day of the French visit was  spent in St. Marten de Foret pre-school in the Mougins area of Nice, which includes a class for pupils with Autism.

Staff of Ballymitty national school in Wexford travelled to France to view new technology and education practices abroad for pupils with special needs, especially autism.

” In France these classes are called UEMA. It was wonderful to meet the staff who work with pupils with autism and to see the resources, equipment and programmes they use”, said Audrey.

” It was very different to Ireland as occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists work alongside the staff in the classrooms for a few days per week.

“The staff of Ballymitty NS  got to see what technology and apps are used, especially for language and communication.

The Irish delegation visited the elementary school where they were allowed to step into the classrooms to meet the pupils.

The second day saw a visit to the Rectorat de Nice, the region’s Departmental Service for National Education which supports the national educational policy and assists schools in implementing the policy.

The Wexford group met with a teacher who trains other teachers and provides them with supports, andresources around foreign language teaching.

“She explained how English is taught and many of the methodologies she mentioned overlapped with how we teach Irish. One difference, however is, that in France, they don’t introduce the written form of a second language until the spoken language has been achieved”, said Audrey.

They learned about  Assistant Exchange programme , whereby anyone with a basic level of French is welcome to go to France to help out in local schools for 12 hours a week and receive aid a basic rate during their stay.

“This is organised through French Education Internationale and  would probably appeal to someone on a career break or travelling to France to learn the language.

“We got many ideas on how to make our own school more inclusive. We met Laetitia Spreiregen, who along with an Inspector, set up a wonderful programme between pupils from a city school in Nice and visually impaired pupils from a school in the mountains.

” This project was called Pierres, Feuilles, Stylos – a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors and was organised with the aim of  bringing pupils together to learn about the mountains , no matter what their ability or disability. and it impacted on all the children in ways they could never have imagined.”

On the third day of the Erasmus mobility, the group were taken on a tour of the Rossetti Institute, a facility for children and young adults with profound physical and intellectual difficulties and met happy pupils and a team comprising teachers and assistants as well as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists.

“ The school had a therapy swimming pool and a new gymnasium. Pupils also stay in one of the 20 bedrooms that they have. Facilities like these are not common in France but it was incredible to see and to hear all about the differences they can make for these pupils”, said the Wexford principal.

“The trip was a wonderful opportunity to see how some areas of France are  developing a long-term policy for pupils and adults with special needs. It was also great to know that the work that is done in Ballymitty NS  school is far advanced in many ways.”

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

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

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


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Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.

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Ballymitty teachers visit schools in France – Sarraute Educación María Magdalena

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