School and communities work together for pupils’ life-skills

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This month, we are highlighting three projects that have successfully linked schools to local communities, with the aim of providing quality content and learning opportunities to their pupils.

GAMES: a General Analysis of the impact of Extended Schools

GAMES was a Comenius mobility project between Extended Schools services in the UK and schools in Brussels. Their cooperation was aimed at developing knowledge and understanding of the impact of extended services by schools on the development of children, with the belief that schools’ cooperation with local communities is not just about children’s wellbeing, but also the development of life skills for their future.

Participants emphasise that “extended services build development for the whole child and support the whole family, and as a stand-alone school you cannot do that”. They also stress the importance of planning according to learners’ needs rather than planning what they need to learn.

A visual report highlights the main ideas and best practices, including cooperation with cultural and social institutions at community level, inside and outside school. The report also calls for a unified situation within the school, a fruitful cooperation between parents and the school.

A final evaluation tool, Kijkwijzer 2.0, is available in Dutch on the project website. An English version will be published soon.

Learn more about the community school approach by visiting the project’s website and downloading the brochure on Community Schools in Brussels by Brussels Education Centre.

EducArte: a school in dialogue with its community through arts

The CEIP de Prácticas nº1, a school located in the heart of the city of Malaga, is currently conducting an Erasmus+ project to allow students to experience learning beyond the classroom walls through collaboration with local cultural institutions.

In one initiative, students and teachers attend workshops to learn a comprehensive and critical approach to art at the Museo de Picasso, only 300 metres from the school. This activity promotes inclusion, and access to art and culture for all. CEIP de Prácticas nº1 is a culturally diverse school, and teachers seek to provide the students with cultural activities within their school timetable. According to the local press, the school is benefiting enormously through its engagement with the wider community, and is attracting increasing numbers of students.

Other activities include students conducting research on the surroundings of their school. They have also introduced other activities, such as theatre and opera at school, silent film screenings, and – to rediscover Andalusian culture – flamenco workshops. You can browse their Facebook page to have an idea of their many creative activities.

The school also transformed the ‘cultural week’, celebrated by many schools in the area, into an intercultural week. This was a way to embrace the cultural diversity within the community and to promote the school’s European dimension and internationalisation. The school’s activity attracted many stakeholders from different sectors, including Master’s students from a Danish university.

Ciencia viva: young people and sustainable cities with science and technology support

Cidades Sustentáveis (Sustainable Cities), challenges young people to help their local communities become more sustainable through STEM initiatives. Organised by Ciencia Viva, the Portuguese National Agency promoting Scientific and Technological Culture, the project links students from higher elementary and secondary schools with universities, firms and local scientists, in order to conduct field work. The project leaders believe that, in this way, the students succeed in linking school to real life, in the search for solutions to local communities’ problems.

During the school year 2015/2016, more than 30 schools have found local partners and integrated the chosen topics into the curriculum, thereby opening up opportunities for high-quality, sustainable STEM education for pupils. Current themes range from air quality and emissions reduction, water treatment and forest preservation, to digital networks. By the end of the year, each project will have produced a website to show the results of its study.

This initiative is one of many best-practice examples developed through MARCH – Make science Real in sCHools, funded through the Lifelong Learning Programme. The network has established a collaborative learning environment to share innovative content and best practices in Science Education in Europe, and promotes the relevance of science to everyday life, and science as a tool for developing citizenship as well as employment.

To learn more about how to make science real in schools, watch a recording of a webinar on best practices for STEM education or visit the MARCH website.