In March 1998 teachers from Rijn Ijssel Colleges in Arnhem (NL) visited Berufskolleg Vera Beckers in Krefeld. They were accompanied by two English teachers, Valerie Lawrence and Adrian Woolley, thus establishing the first contact with Tile Hill College. The first meeting produced a lively exchange of ideas, with the result that the two colleges soon signed a partnership contract. As the English colleagues had got to know Berufskolleg Vera Beckers, some local institutions and the town of Krefeld it was clear that a return visit should be arranged.
Thanks to the financial support of the EU project "Comenius" it became possible that two colleagues could go to Coventry in November 1998 on a preparatory visit, with the aim of developing a common project. Frau Lohmann, head of department and co-ordinator for international contacts in the Fachschule für Sozialpädagogik, and Frau Lemmer, an English teacher and co-organiser of preparation courses for international contacts, travelled to Birmingham on November 7, 1998, where they were heartily welcomed by Mrs Lawrence and Mr Woolley.
In the following three days they got to know Tile Hill College, especially the School for Health, Education and Social Care. There were opportunities to meet the principal Mr Taylor, the head of school Mrs Manthorpe, and other colleagues. In addition, lessons were visited as well as several institutions in which pupils have their work placements, resulting in a constant exchange of information and ideas.
Apart from that, Frau Lohmann and Frau Lemmer gained an impression of Coventry. For example, by visiting the cathedral which has become a centre of reconciliation, encouraging international and multi-cultural co-operation, as well as by invitations from the colleagues to their homes and by visits to typical local restaurants.
From the educational point of view, one particular experiment was of special interest. It is an integrated leisure centre ( Tiny Tim Centre ) where disabled and able-bodied youngsters come into contact with each other. The Tiny Tim Centre provides medical treatment and therapeutic play areas for children with a wide range of mental and physical disabilities. For parents there is free medical advice and also a secluded area with a cafeteria from where they can watch their children play.
Other institutions like special schools for the severally handicapped or slow learners, workplaces for the disabled and old people's homes are of interest for other vocational fields at Berufskolleg Vera Beckers (Heilerziehungsplege2, Sozialhelfer3 ).
By the end of the short stay a millenium project for January 2000 was being envisaged.
1) vocational school at the college,
specialising in "social pedagogy". The Erzieher "educators"
are trained to work in a varity of occupations e.g. in nursery schools, day care
centers, afternoon provisions for school age children, youth centres and
2) vocational training as remedial "educators" and care workers
3) vocational training as assistant care workers
to Tile Hill College