Small school with a long tradition
The Croatian School was established in 1996, only a few years after the declaration of Croatian independence. Our first students came mainly from refugee families who moved from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UK during the war in the early 1990s. Since then the School has been supported by the Croatian Ministry of Education (the only one in the UK), and the lessons have been held on Saturdays at the Croatian Embassy in central London. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have a permanent home which ensures continuity of lessons and gives the School the opportunity to maintain close links with the Embassy.
Over the years the school has attracted over one hundred pupils. We offer classes to children from 5-15 years of age who work in groups according to their age and the level of proficiency in the Croatian language. Nowadays, a number of our pupils come from bi/multilingual families, primarily British-Croatian, and we are glad that we even have children from third generation. We currently have 30 pupils on the roll.
We are aware that busy lifestyles, the lack of family network and the fact that the Croatian community is dispersed across London present difficulties for families in nurturing and maintaining the language and customs in the home. We hope that we can help them by offering quality (and fun!) lessons that cover not just language but also history, geography, general knowledge and culture. We also make sure we sing, recite poems, play games, stage little plays and even dance a bit! We are very lucky to have a small kitchen where we bake bread, special Croatian biscuits and dye Easter eggs in our traditional way. We have always believed that our school should not be just about grammar (and Croatian grammar is really tricky!) so the students often take home something beautiful they created in their art and craft lesson. Over the years we have seen plays, films and exhibitions brought to London by Croatian artists, we have been to many fun and educational trips around London and even abroad – visiting our sister school in Brussels!
We are delighted to be given the opportunity to participate in the Digital Multilingual Storytelling Project at Goldsmiths. The timing coincided with our efforts to attract new pupils and to encourage a small group of current teenage students, who have attended the school over the years, to stay with us for a bit longer. The news about the project generated interest both among the pupils and their parents, especially for the Film Festival. This is a new innovative activity for our school which will give our pupils the opportunity to work as a team, to show their creativity through integrating different technologies and language learning, as well as the chance to share their story and language with others on the Project.