Education Talks: Moving forward with pupil mobility

Adrian Barbaroș, board member of the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU), shares his opinions on pupil mobility. What new forms might it take, and how can it be more geared toward students’ needs?

I’m Adrian Barbaroș. I'm a board member of the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions, which is a platform for cooperation between school student unions from all over Europe.

What are the pros and cons of blended mobility?

The number of blended mobilities has risen, especially during these times, with the global pandemic and with the age of digitalisation. One of the advantages of hybrid mobility or online mobility is the fact that it’s free almost all the time, so you don’t have to pay for accommodation, you don’t have to travel. You can just simply open your laptop and join some classes, or have the possibility to visit a museum, or have the possibility to see different parts of the world.

It is quite obvious that it can’t replace physical mobility. The lack of human interaction is present, the lack of gaining some competences that you might gain through actively participating in physical mobilities that will not take place in the online setting. For example, by visiting a different school or spending one week in a different school, either in your country or abroad, you get to know more people, you get to have conversations about different topics. You get a grasp on that culture, you get a grasp on how people interact. You also gain a different insight on education, and this is lacking, of course, during the online or hybrid mobilities.

How can schools support student placement?

When it comes to the engagement of schools, but also teachers, regarding student placement, first and foremost is to have a consultation with students. So, to really understand what their needs are, what and where they would like to have some student placement. At the same time, I believe that this is also the responsibility of national educational systems, but also of the European Union. When it comes to the national level, it is important, as well, to have some legislation that covers this aspect of education, especially when it comes to the recognition of the period that one student might have access to, even abroad or within that specific country. At the same time, from our perspective, we believe that the Erasmus+ project of the European Union could be one of the endeavours that could help school students to also have a place to commute.

How can school trips be improved?

First and foremost, I think that the curriculum should be linked to the school trips, in the sense that what is being taught in schools should also be fundamental for the extracurricular activities. So, for example, when we visit a museum or when we visit a factory, this should also be related to what we study in school, so that it can complement the lessons that are being taught in school. For example, if we study in Biology about different types of animals, we might have the chance to go to a zoo to see how those animals are in real life, and this has an impact on the students and their development, in terms of how they perceive those things in real life. At the same time, it is also important to have some dialogue and some consultation with students, to really understand what they would like to do during those school trips. Not only should those school trips be related to the curriculum, but they should also be in line with the needs of the students. So if they, for example, would like to learn more about a specific age of history or maybe about a writer, schools and teachers could give the space and go and discover more about that specific topic.