Whitefield has been involved with the JK Rowling-funded charity Lumos for around four years, most recently with its work in Moldova. This summer three of our staff visited the country to help with the setting up of Lumos’ first Special Education Unit in the country.
Lumos works to support children in institutions regain their right to a family life and gain access to health, education and social care provision tailored to their individual needs
In the past, large numbers of Moldovan children special educational needs were sent to residential institutions and Lumos has worked closely with the Moldovan government and local authorities to change this by developing inclusive education provision in schools and kindergardens across the country. As a result many children with special educational needs have been able to return home to their families or move into alternative family placements and have become part of the Moldovan education system.
This year Lumos took the next step and developed a unit in a mainstream school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). This is the first type of educational provision for children with complex needs in Moldova. The newly opened Inclusive Education Unit (ISU) sits alongside the “Petre Ştefănucă” High School in Ialoveni and twenty-two children will now learn alongside their peers in the mainstream school.
Three Whitefield professionals including Jo Fitzsimons (teacher), Tabassum Dyer (physiotherapist) and Sean Douglas (Speech and Language Therapist) visited the ISU this summer, working alongside the Lumos Team to deliver a four day training programme to staff at the centre. The aim was to share their expertise and increase the knowledge of professionals working with the children.
The Lumos Team, who hosted the event, including Galina Bulat (Inclusive Education Project Manager and Ex-Deputy Minister for Education), Nadejda Pascaru (Project Assistant and Interpreter) and Agnesia Eftodi (Specialist in Education) provided an extraordinary insight into their journey in supporting inclusive education for the children of Moldova. Their dedication to the development of the Special Education Unit, their wealth of expertise, experience and overwhelmingly hospitable manner were testament to the success of the project.
This visit demonstrated the commitment of UK and Moldovian professionals alike, in improving the lives of children who otherwise would remain institutionalised, isolated from society and excluded from their right to education. The pioneering work of Lumos and the education and social care professionals in Moldova has already impacted on the lives of families creating opportunities for learning in schools and within the home environment. Parents and carers of the children have been overcome with gratitude for the support Lumos has provided and the recent visit to Moldova has been an example of the great potential for change even in the most difficult of circumstances.
You can find out more about the centre and it's opening on the Lumos website here: