Bryan Campbell, Deputy Head Teacher of Trinity Academy in Edinburgh, reflects on a successful Erasmus + project for International Education Week 2018.
In September 2017, Trinity Academy started on the exciting journey of our new Erasmus+ project in conjunction with schools from Germany, Sweden, and The Netherlands. The aim is to develop toolkits that schools and other partners can adopt to assist with the support of inclusive practices in education and is an opportunity to make a difference at both a local, national and international level. We are now at the half way stage and this is a summary of our journey so far.
The first transition event was in January 2018. Twenty Trinity Academy students joined thirty of their international peers for a conference on how to best support students through all transitions into, through and out of our establishments towards a positive destination. During the week-long event, our international partners were hosted by families and everyone participated in various cultural and educational activities, aimed at creating new relations across Europe to benefit both the pupils and school systems involved.
Many cultural activities took place throughout the week, allowing bonds within the group to be strengthened.
Our conference was facilitated by various guest speakers, including Ben Macpherson MSP, Councillor Eleanor Bird and Danny Murphy, Honorary Fellow at University of Edinburgh. The participants readily took full responsibility for the development of additional practices and improvements that every country could adopt within their education system, acknowledging the opportunity to make a difference for their local and international peers. As well as carrying out group work based on these issues, many cultural activities took place throughout the week, allowing bonds within the group to be strengthened. These included a visit to Edinburgh Castle, informative tours of the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, a hysterical trip to the Edinburgh Dungeons, and rounded off, with, what for many was the highlight of the week, a Burns Night Ceilidh.
The event culminated in all pupils giving presentations on their findings throughout the week at the City Chambers in Edinburgh. The week-long event was a great success, as every individual contributed their best efforts, resulting in six well-informed and enthusiastic talks.
The growth in confidence exhibited by every student was testimony to the efforts made by everyone to build a cohesive group. We now have a range of ongoing transition activities in place at each establishment and toolkits being prepared for sharing as the project develops.
The second transition conference was held at Beekvliet Gymnasium near Den Bosch in The Netherlands in September. The overall theme of this meeting was motivation. The main aim was to investigate the role that students can play in identifying and further developing the possibilities for improvement of the motivation of their learning as well as among their peers.
In a similar way to the Edinburgh event, the week consisted of both cultural and educational elements including a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam as well as visits to seven Dutch schools with various educational philosophies and a workshop on motivation. The four main areas, identified by the students, leading to motivational improvements were: more personalised learning; introducing various forms of peer support; more possibilities for studying at school after school hours with support from teachers and fellow pupils and more creative subjects and sports/exercise built into the curriculum.
Overall, the project has been successful in both its findings and creating international connections between all those involved.
The project continues this session with trips planned to Waldschule, Schwanewede, Germany in January 2019 and to Sanda Gymansium, Jonkoping, Sweden the following session in September 2019.