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A Significant Educational Partnership: Spanish Specialists in Special Needs Education Visit British School in Sofia

30 Apr 2024

In an inspiring example of global educational collaboration, three Spanish educators specializing in special needs education from CEIP Mar Mediterráneo in Almería, Spain, travelled to Bulgaria under the prestigious Erasmus+ programme. The delegation included Alicia Aguirre Gázquez, an educational counsellor; Melanie Pérez Jiménez, an expert in special education; and Isabel del Castillo Pérez, a specialist in audiology and speech therapy. Their mission was to explore the integration of students with special educational needs in a setting vastly different from their own.

The chosen venue for this exploration was a renowned British school in Sofia, known for its comprehensive approach to education from kindergarten to secondary levels. This institution is the only accredited British School Overseas in Bulgaria, offering a unique perspective on inclusive education. Alicia Aguirre Gázquez commented on the visit, "We chose this school because of its reputation for effectively integrating special educational needs practices throughout all stages of education, which we were eager to understand in depth."

Upon arrival, the Spanish teachers engaged in a thorough observation regime, paying close attention to how the school integrates children with special educational needs into mainstream classrooms. This integration process impressed them, particularly the seamless way in which these students were included alongside their peers.

In kindergarten, the school employed creative educational techniques, such as thematic "corners" that recreate real-life scenarios. One striking example was a mathematics lesson conducted in a setting that mimicked a florist's shop, enabling children to engage with numerical concepts through practical, tactile experiences. This method was especially beneficial for children with special needs, helping them to participate fully and learn effectively within the group, thus promoting an inclusive educational atmosphere.

The program extended beyond mere observation, with the Spanish educators taking part in workshops alongside local students. These sessions fostered an exchange of innovative educational practices and insights.

Moreover, the visit provided the teachers with an opportunity to immerse themselves in Bulgarian culture, enriching their understanding and broadening their educational perspectives. The knowledge and experiences gained from this trip are anticipated to inspire new inclusive strategies at their home school in Spain, potentially impacting wider educational methodologies.

This educational journey did more than just expand the professional and personal horizons of the participants; it highlighted the profound advantages of international educational exchanges. Such initiatives enhance global understanding and drive forward innovative, inclusive teaching methods in diverse educational landscapes.

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