Latvia: an experience that has touched my heart.

Neil’s Latvian Keynote

I was invited by School 2030, which is an agency that has been commissioned by the Latvian Government to reform its school’s curriculum, to visit Latvia between the 1st and 4th October. The purpose of my visit was to talk about Values-based Education (VbE) and the impact it can have on schools’ culture, curriculum and life.

I was given a busy schedule, which ensured that my time could have the maximum impact. On the first day I organised a three-hour seminar/workshop for the country’s curriculum designers and advisers. During the early evening I was invited to speak to an audience of Latvian parents.  This event, sponsored by one of Latvia’s leading banks, was live-streamed and will also feature on Facebook. 

Curriculum designers thinking about VbE

The next day I was the keynote speaker at a conference for 600 educators: I also gave a workshop presentation to a large group of teachers. The conference had a number of sponsors, one of which was The British Council. Besides these formal events I had many meetings and conversations with many people. My wonderful host Asnate, a teacher and a part of the development team, interviewed me about The Inner Curriculum. I am convinced that her Primary school will be one of the VbE Latvian pilot school’s.  

Teacher workshop in VbE

My final day was focused on a visit to Latvia’s largest all-through school, the Primary section is a brand new build, designed and built with the aid of EU funding.

Latvian pupils’ Art lesson

Latvia has a diverse mix of schools, ranging from State, Parent, Russian medium schools etc. These have grown up in Latvia since the end of the Soviet era. The country is at a crucial junction: how to educate its population using a pedagogy that meets the needs of children and society in the 21st Century? There are many challenges but these are being faced with determination, resilience and enthusiasm. 

I am thrilled that Latvia is thinking seriously about VbE and how this can underpin the life and work of their schools. My short trip was, I hope, helpful and supportive. I am writing this on the aeroplane returning to the UK; I feel full of gratitude for the care and kindness that I have experienced.  I have made some very good friendships whilst in Latvia and my dream is to return to continue helping to embed both VbE in general and The Inner Curriculum in particular.