Report on Comenius Project Evaluation Meeting,

 The Netherlands, 

28th – 31st May 2014

Maeve Tierney

Wednesday, 28th May

I arrived at Rhenen station about 3.00pm and was met there by the co-ordinator, Anton Verwey, and all of the other visitors from the partner schools. It was good to meet everyone after so many months and to put faces with the names of the teachers in Gozo whom my colleagues had met on previous mobilities.

We went straight to the school in Opheusden and met Diana Brouwer, the director, and her colleagues.  I was very fortunate to be treated to a very good power point presentation about Ireland by two 11 year old boys from the senior class. They had obviously spent a lot of time with their teacher, Frances, learning about Ireland and they were very well informed.

The Director,of Opheusden school,Diana Brouwer (centre), with colleagues, Elena, left and Els, right.

All the visiting teachers then had a meeting with the staff of the Opheusden school to discuss progress and issues of concern about the project. Colleagues were asked to share their experiences to date and to give feedback on areas that might be developed or improved. The co-ordinator emphasised that it was important that visiting teachers stay at the same hotels if possible and also that reports about mobilities be sent to the Dutch school as soon as possible, so that they can be put on the website.

The meeting then divided into two separate groups with the principals of the partner schools and the co-ordinator, Anton Verwey, remaining to evaluate the progress of the first year of the project and the other group attending a presentation by the teachers from Qala Primary School..

There was a discussion about the website being in Dutch, resulting in some schools finding it difficult to access the section on the project. However, it was agreed that there would be clearer information on how parents and other members of the partner school communities could access this in the future.

The second year of the project will build on the work of the first year and it is open to schools to choose from a variety of methodologies in the creative subjects to expand on this; this may involve creative writing and presenting work to parents via reading sessions or at morning assemblies; art work, drama, musical performances and showcasing pupils’ work. It was also decided to continue with the exchange of correspondence by post and email for pupils in the partner schools.

The mobility dates for 2014/2015 were agreed.

A section of the display cabinet in Het Palet Opheusden, with a range of souvenirs from Ireland

Chatting over the meal in Opheusden.

Later that evening the staff of Opheusden and the visiting teachers met in  a local restaurant  and had lots of interesting conversations over a fine meal.

Anton brought the group back to Leerdam to their hotels and I checked in to mine: Gasterhuij het Oude Posthuis, which used to be the town’s post office and was recently converted to a hotel. It was a very pleasant hotel with very attentive and friendly staff and is very centrally situated at a bridge over the canal.

The Hotel in Leerdam, Gasterhuij het oude Posthuis..

Thursday, 29th May

Thursday was  a free day, particularly for those who had been in the Netherlands since Monday. I was fortunate to be in such a charming town as Leerdam and I took the opportunity to visit the local cathedral and the Glass Studios which had the most extraordinary and exquisite work made by master crafts people from all over the world. Leerdam has its own glass making factory for many years and many of the local shops had their products for sale.

Friday, 30th May

All of the visiting teachers, Peter from Austria, Daniel and Donald from Sannat primary school and Paul and Joseph from Qala primary school, both in Gozo, and myself met early in the morning to visit Anton and his family at their home in Rumpt on the dyke at the Linge river. It is a very charming place, consisting of a wonderfully well preserved lock-keeper’s cottage on the dyke and a number of other very attractive cottages. We had coffee and discussed the project and Anton had a surprise for us all.

He had ordered motorised bicycles for us all so that we could travel around the countryside and have a better view of the sights.

Peter, Joseph and Paul on their motorised bicycles….  an experience to remember!

I had never been on such a vehicle before, but since I had often cycled in the past, it was not as difficult as I had feared and didn’t require any peddling. We travelled for several kilometres over all types of terrain, even taking a short ferry ride, and we also stopped for lunch along the banks of a river. We were fortunate that the weather was so pleasant and it was most enjoyable to view the Dutch countryside from our bicycles.  Some of us got lost once or twice, but that’s another story…

Securing the bicycles before a short break …

Saturday, 31st May

On Saturday, I did some souvenir shopping in Leerdam and packed for the return flight to Dublin, but first there was Anton’s garden party to attend.

Anton and his family hold a garden party at their home on the same weekend every year and there is always a theme of a region or a country. This year the theme was the Austrian Alps and, of course, the guest of honour was Peter from Austria, who came attired in his traditional lederhosen costume. There was a wonderful array of food and drink associated with the region and lots of interesting guests also, including teachers I’d worked with on a previous Comenius project.

All too soon it was time to leave for Schipol and my return flight to Dublin that evening.