Thursday, 1 September 2016

Introductions: Leading Lights Erasmus+ Schools in Finland, Great Britain, Italy, La Reunion, Portugal and Spain.

Liceo Scientifico A. Diaz, Caserta, Italy

Liceo Scientifico “A. Diaz” is a 13-18  high school in Caserta, a large town in the south of Italy. 1500 students attend our school, where they study scientific and technological (ICT) subjects together with classical culture. We are also planning to include a second European language alongside the study of English and a third non-European language, Arabic. The priorities of our school include the development of our students’ competences and life skills, in particular the acquisition of self-awareness, of problem-solving strategies, but also a deeper knowledge and respect  of other cultures and of any form of diversity, promoting the inclusion of  pupils with special needs  and immigrants, in collaboration with teachers, families and specialists. Great value is also given to the prevention of early school leaving through conventions with local organizations, to keep the school open in the afternoon and involve the pupils in activities aimed at strengthening their motivation and favouring their social and cultural inclusion (basketball, athletics, table tennis, swimming). Even though the average socio-economic background of our students is not disadvantaged, the occupational levels in the area around Caserta is among the lowest in Italy, due to a long-term crisis of the local industrial sector. Moreover the area 500 km around Caserta is experiencing the massive arrival of waves of migrants, mainly from sea, due to our closeness to the coastline. Unfortunately forms of racial discrimination are spreading, based on the fear of the ‘unknown’ and different. Our school has accordingly been giving growing importance to the prevention of any form of racial discrimination through curricular and extracurricular activities. We therefore feel very close to the aims of this transnational project.

Ysgol Dyffryn Taf, Whitland, Wales

Dyffryn Taf is an 11-18 school in rural West Wales.  834 pupils attend the school which caters for all abilities, offering a wide choice of academic and vocational courses.  The school has a very large catchment area over 400 square miles drawing from a predominantly agricultural setting.7% of pupils receive free-school meals and there are 13% of students on the SEN register.  The school is a naturally bilingual school with 8% of pupils speaking Welsh as the predominant language at home, and 19% speak Welsh fluently.  There is a Welsh medium form in each year group in key stage 3 and Welsh medium teaching is also available in humanities subjects in this key stage. The school caters for pupils representing a full range of academic ability and socio-economic background. . There are currently 105 pupils with special educational needs, including 25 who have statements.

School priorities include raising standards in literacy, improving the quality of teaching and learning, developing middle managers, improving attendance and learner autonomy- we feel that involvement in this project will assist in meeting these priorities in an exciting new pan - European context.

 The school takes an active and leading role in international work and bringing the global dimension to life for our students. We feel this to be particularly important as the school is located in an area where there is currently very little ethnic diversity. Our learners will almost certainly have to leave to find better employment opportunities and we feel it is important to encourage them to broaden their horizons as early as possible and embrace  and enjoy diversity. 

Ysgol y Strade, Llanelli, Wales

Ysgol y Strade School has placed a particular emphasis on excellent teaching and learning  in the classroom and have a Teaching and Learning Professional Learning Community that has produced a collection of resources. The impact of these on standards has been a focus in classroom observations over the last two years. School results over the past three years have shown a substantial upward turn  at KS4. We have had particular success with rasining attainment of vulnerable groups and have been asked to present at high level conferences on our improvement journey.
The school has also formed a partnership to train students and newly –qualified teachers and arranges seminars focussing on excellent teaching practice.

Where languages are concerned, French, Spanish and Italian are taught at Strade and we have recently gained funding for a partnership programme to introduce Italian to our primary feeder schools. We have trained some of our pupils as Language Ambassadors – they have addressed a recent  conference at Swansea University on their  work which includes a successful radio station Radio Rouge.

Also of relevance to this project, is our partnership with Welsh Rugby Union.
to promote and develop school rugby alongside good citizenship. This involves our PE staff working with local clubs to increase participation, particularly the number of girls participating in this traditionally male sport. This year for the first time, we have a girls’ team participating in the renowned Rosslyn 7’s championship. 

We have some limited experience of international school – linking: in 2011, Ysgol y Strade was involved in staff exchanges to Malawi in partnership with cluster primary schools in the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion counties. Some of these proved difficult to sustain however due to communication problems and changes of staff.  The school has never yet taken part in a European partnership of the nature of Leading Lights and would relish the opportunity to do so. 
During 2015-16, Ysgol y Strade has joined a network with local schools as part of the Global Learning Programme Wales (GLP-W).  We benefit from being led by an experienced and successful school in their approach and inclusion of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship This partnership will enable us to develop stronger links with other schools in our catchment area, both at primary and at secondary level.  It will also enable us to share the results of this project very effectively with the other schools both in the local network and the GLP-W community of 400 schools.
Some pupils and teachers at the school have been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities that promote awareness and education of prejudice, racism and equality.    However, the quality of the Personal and Social & ESDGC curriculum has been identified as an area for development as this will help to foster acceptance and an understanding of diversity and equality amongst all pupils and teachers at the school. Whilst some pupils are taught about issues such as migration and immigration in Geography and History lessons, this project will create opportunities for all students and staff at Ysgol y Strade to develop and improve their understanding by introducing cross-curricular concepts concerned with ethnicity, religion, ability, gender, and sexual orientation.

Our intent to be included in this project is in line with long term development plans of the school. The School Improvement Strategy, from the academic year 2016-17, features Global Learning as a specific target.  Guidance from the Donaldson Report outlining the future of education in Wales is central to the school’s own goals to ensure the provision of opportunities for pupils to become ethical informed citizens of Wales and the world.

Laanila High School, Oulu, Finland 

Laanilan Lukio is a high school of approximately 300 students and 25 teachers in the city of Oulu. Oulu is situated at the sea of Gulf Botnia in northern Finland. 

We have an active green flag group of students who plan and implement activities related to sustainable development tutored by teachers. Our recent themes have included co-operation with the communities in the neighbourhood, waste recycling and reducing energy consumption. Since 2011 we have also taken part in Comenius collaboration in two separate projects with thirteen other European countries. Our mutual partnerships in increasing students’ awareness on ecological as well as volunteering issues have been truly wonderful and educating experiences. 

In addition to the green flag group, we have an active students' union which has enabled the students to improve their social environment by creating an encouraging, dissimilarities approving social atmosphere. The school has taken part in many projects related to active citizenship, for example in taking part in the racism-free events in the City of Oulu and volunteering for kintergartens, old people's houses, primary schools and other local actors. 

Two years ago we started new courses in volunteering. The courses are led by ODL, an Oulu based Deaconess Institute, and the work is done for several local voluntary organizations such as The Red Cross, among others. The course consists of theoretical studies and of 20 hours of voluntary work during which students may e.g. work as a friend or a support person for mentally ill youth or single parent families, read newspapers for the elderly, go for walks with mentally disabled or visually impaired or help immigrants and refugees.  

Each year The City of Oulu celebrates Lucia Day in partnership with the Swedish speaking school - during the celebrations the students make contact with the local community by performing songs. The tour goes on for several days, during which many of the old and vulnerable in the local community receive a welcome ray of light in the darkness of winter. Many of the people in Oulu participate in the Lucia tradition, the main goal of which is to increase people’s understanding of the various social needs in the local community. We have taken this tradition as a symbol for our project “Leading Lights” as we wish to shine a light on prejudice and discrimination in Europe and work together to combat these.
In this Erasmus+ project we will be improving the skills of our students to cooperate in foreign languages and to extend their knowledge and understanding of diversity and equality issues. Our aim is to also provide our students with experiences in different countries in order to be able to compare the state of diversity and equality within the EU and to make them do something concrete for their neighborhood, both locally and globally. Our school can set an example for the other partner schools in volunteering for the good of the old and the young, the physically and mentally disabled as well as for the immigrants and refugees in our city as we already have experience of this from different school activities in previous years. Also the projects and good practices we have implemented with the university exchange students (Courses on Global Education) and the local Community College (Friendship Activities with the Young Refugees) will  be shared with our European school partners in this project.

We have set up a team of eight teachers and we will  be responsible for co-ordinating the project as we have the necessary managerial and communications experience of this from previous Comenius projects. The team of teachers involved in this project includes a wide range of relevant expertise including language teaching, drama, music & arts, ICT, student counselling, institutional evaluation and school management. As we have expertise in ICT designing and implementing websites, video films and net teleconferences, we will take responsibility for ensuring this project is subject to effective reportings on the net. We will be responsible for ensuring strategies for developing electronic reportings to improve educational outcomes are shared across this partnership. 

Svenska Privatskolan, Oulu, Finland


Svenska Privatskolan i Uleåborg (SPSU) is a Swedish-speaking school in the city of Oulu in Northern Ostrobothnia. The school was founded in 1859 and is one of the oldest schools in Finland. It is the northernmost school in Finland with Swedish as the language of instruction. The school has approximately 240 students aged 6 to 18. The school works in close cooperation with Svenska barnträdgården (Swedish-speaking kindergarten) which is located on the same premises. Many students start their schooling already in the kindergarten, culminating in a matriculation examination at the gates of adulthood. 

SPSU holds a special position as the only Swedish-speaking school in Oulu and the entire northern Finland. The school works in close collaboration with other schools and educational institutions, for example Laanila upper secondary school and the University of Oulu. Many children and adolescents come from the whole of Northern Ostrobothnia, Lapland and northern Sweden to receive education in their mother tongue, Swedish, at SPSU. Prospective teachers of Swedish at the University of Oulu have the possibility to do work placement at the school. 

SPSU is a comprehensive school with a language of instruction which is clearly a minority in the city and the surrounding region. Simultaneously, it is the strength of the school. As a Swedish-speaking school SPSU acts as a window to the Nordic countries, which means that many students wish to study in the school to eventually be able to apply for further education in Sweden, Norway or Denmark. Students are engaged extensively as guest lecturers and participants in various projects where the Nordic or Scandinavian element needs to be brought forward. 

Lycée Saint-Exupéry High School, Les Avirons, Reunion island

Saint-Exupéry  high school is situated in a small town named Les Avirons in south-west Reunion island, an overseas French department in the Indian ocean. There are about 1100 students attending academic and vocational classes. Saint-Exupéry High School also includes a Post Graduate Vocational College with 100 students aged 18-22. They attend Management, Business, Negotiating, Communication and English classes as well as studying Real Estate or Negotiating in work placements or training courses in companies outside school.
The school offers an international teaching environment with specialist classes européennes in English, German and Spanish. These are optional courses for motivated students who wish to extend their foreign language learning, through the study of economics and social sciences in English, economics and management in German, and history and geography in Spanish.
Each year, the school receives native speaking language assistants who promote an authentic linguistic and cultural approach. The fifteen year old (seconde) European classes take the Cambridge English Certificate (B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and the European baccalauréat at the end of secondary school. Moreover, ongoing partnerships exist with schools in Germany (Nuremberg) and a school trip is organized every year. Also, our Latin students have had the opportunity to visit Italy and itineraries to the UK are regularly set up. Closer to Reunion, Mauritius is often a privileged destination for our students, too. 
The social context of our school – in an island where more than 40% of the population live below the poverty line and unemployment is nearly 50%, making it one of the poorer regions of the E.U – is comparatively good. This is probably due to a higher rate of middle-class families living in this pleasant part of the island. However, there are some educational issues here, as all over the island, like illiteracy and student drop-out that are globally more important than in most regions of metropolitan France.  In fact, despite being an ultra-peripheral region of the E.U, Reunion’s geographical situation in the heart of the Indian Ocean makes it the only European region in the southern hemisphere and probably the most isolated. In this way, our students hardly feel part of  Europe and this project, by making them exchange with other Europeans, will give them a closer approach and a better inclusion with the mainland.
This feeling of isolation has also helped develop a common identity, which stems from the descendents of the early settlers who came from places as diverse as the Comoros and Madagascar, the African mainland and Europe, and even China, India and Arabia. Reunion is often seen as a multicolored society where people with different ethnic backgrounds live together peacefully. This is probably why we regard this project as ours, the concept of diversity being part of our genes and history. 

Sá de Miranda School, Braga, Portugal

Sá de Miranda School is situated in Braga, one of the youngest cities in Europe (European Youth Capital in 2012) but also with a vast historical and cultural heritage in the North of Portugal. The school has recently aggregated with a former group of schools located in a periferal area, being the head-school of the present School Group Sá de Miranda, which includes all learning levels, from kindergarten to high school.

Sá de Miranda school dates back to the 19th century, and has played an important role in the region ever since. It started as a boarding school for boys, but has been a state school for 175 years. It is now predominantly attended by teenagers from the outskirts of the city and surrounding rural areas.

The total number of students is around 2428, 723 of whom attending Scientific-Humanistic courses, 297 Vocational courses, and 1204 Basic Education.
Trying to cope with the challenges of such a heterogeneous school population, the institution’s priority is to foster the holistic development of all its members, by promoting personal and academic growth. Thus, its main goal is to educate proactive, creative and critical citizens, by providing high quality teaching, by helping students discover their talents and develop their competences and acquired knowledge, and by promoting a scientific and cultural exchange within the educational community. To reach these goals, the life of the institution must be based on a set of underlying values, such as the pursuit of excellence, integrity, solidarity, cooperation and reciprocity, effectiveness and good resource management.

IES Juan Antonio Fernández Pérez, Melilla, Spain

IES Juan Antonio Fernández Pérez is a high school which teaches Compulsory Secondary Education to students aged 12-16, Baccalaurate to students aged 16-18 and vocational training in gardening, cooking, restaurant, travel agency and social integration. At the same time, we have a class intended for the inclusion of migrants into the regular system of education.Most of our students are bereber in origin (70%),many of them coming from disadvantaged areas, so some of them are prone to social exclusion and others are pupils with special education needs. At the age of 16, when students are finishing their compulsory education stage, there is a high rate of drop-offs from the educative system and 30% of students just leave education without their CGSEs or any kind of academic or vocational qualification. The participation of our centre in this project means one step more in our constant fight against early leaving and abandon from the Spanish system of education. In the current process of internationalization of our center, every joint action of our High School with another European centers is focused in acquiring different strategies to fight early leaving from the educative system, promoting social and cultural inclusion of immigrants in our center and enhancing school performance in our students from disadvantaged backgrounds or cultural or achievement gaps.

Being our center situated in Melilla, a Spanish city on the northern coast of Africa with 80.000 inhabitants, sometimes gives us a feeling of isolation from European mainstream pedagogic and didactic innovations so the participation in this project is a fine way for students and teachers to became aware of Europe, otherwise they would not stand a chance to get to know and enjoy other European educative experiences.In other words, they can by these projects,feel both the European and their own dimension.

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