Ensuring Equality Of Children's Challenges In The Risk Situation For The Prevention Of School Abandon, By Developing The Network Of Professionals Involved In Education

Short summary

The issue of school abandonment and school failure is a complex reality of the contemporary school, but also a challenge for all actors involved in education, because in recent years’ abandonment has become a problem at European level, with the entire Union confronted with early school leaving.

 The aim of the project is to meet the needs of our institution to prevent school failure and dropout through the formation of a team of professionals capable of developing and implementing an educational strategy centred on the development of pupils' key competences and the promotion of lifelong learning, on ensuring equal opportunities for all pupils to eradicate school dropout.

 The main objectives, underpinning the goal of reducing abandonment rates, are:

  • Increasing teachers' accountability in monitoring the factors leading to school abandonment / failure (migrant / re-migrant parents/ disorganized families, severe chronic diseases) and finding solutions to ensure equal access to education;
  • the participation of fifteen teachers in European training courses to implement a program of innovative tools and resources capable of stimulating student motivation and diminishing school failure / abandonment over the next two years;
  • the acquisition by the beneficiary teachers of more motivating teaching / skills (both for pupils and for themselves) useful in preventing abandonment;
  • Achieving the capacity of beneficiaries to initiate their own educational projects to support vulnerable groups and to ensure equal access to education;
  • Acquisition of practical knowledge and experience capable of turning course beneficiaries into developers of sustainable practical projects to prevent abandonment;
  • the acquisition by learners of working skills with disadvantaged pupils, pupils with special needs to meet their needs to have equal access to education through the acquisition of "task-based learning" techniques (TBL) adapted to each student;
  • integrating students at risk of dropping out of education and maintaining them in school;
  • the internalization of the European dimension in education by our institution and the internationalization of our own experience;

 Target group:

Starting with the needs of the institution, we have set out to build this project to support vulnerable groups in the institution at risk of abandonment:

  • vulnerable children who will be beneficiaries of a professional intervention program (223 children from disorganized families, 111 children from single-parent families, 327 children with precarious material status);
  • children affected by migration (138 children with one or both parents abroad and 15 retired children);
  • children with severe health problems (59 students with chronic diseases, 16 pupils with ADHD and 3 pupils with autism) or with a low intellectual level (47 pupils).

 Planned activities:

  • Preparatory work on project implementation and organization of mobility;
  • Training course in the Czech Republic, "Task Based Learning" / Learning based on tasks;
  • Training course in Portugal, "Change-Making Educators" / Educators-promoters of change;
  • Training course in Spain - "Improving classroom atmosphere and student motivation in schools" / Improving the atmosphere in class and stimulating students' motivation at school;
  • Activities to disseminate the experience, knowledge and skills acquired, activities in the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain (carried out after each mobility);
  • Activities for the implementation of knowledge, skills and didactic strategies:
  • in the activities carried out with vulnerable students, in order to ensure equal opportunities and to prevent abandonment;
  • within the educational activities and within the institution's projects ("A Chance for Everyone", "Parents' School", "Young Entrepreneurs Change makers");

in post-school, remedial and performance activities, support for vulnerable pupils' parents, club activities, conflict mediation and teaching strategies.

Context of good practice

At the level of the Romanian education system, pupils are declared in drop out of school records three years after dropping out of study (according to ROFUIP 2005),during which time the student has time to and continue the studies. On the other hand, the indicator used at national level to have a picture of this phenomenon, presented annually in the report on the state of the national education system, is determined on the basis of the input - output method, according to the methodology of the National Statistics Institute (INS).

 In June 2015, the Government approved the Reducing Leave Strategy early school, a document containing mechanisms and measures that are to be implemented by 2020, in order to reduce the percentage young people aged 18-24 who have completed the eighth grade at most but no other form of schooling or vocational training follows.

The objective of the Strategy is to reduce the early school leaving rate six percent, from 17.3% in 2013 to 11.3% in 2020, reaching the target undertaken by Romania in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The early school leaving phenomenon is predominant among groups those at risk, such as young people from rural communities, young people coming from low-income families, Roma and other minorities, as well and students who have been at least one-year-old or who have dropped out of school. Early school leaving has important social and economic implications.

Various strategic activities have been carried out at the level of Iaşi County to prevent and reduce school dropout: outlining a coherent long-term and short- term strategy, involvement in the European projects on the issue of school dropout, the constant realization of studies centred on the analysis of school abandonment in Iasi County, the implementation of some action plans, monitoring the achievement of the proposed indicators, conceiving and

implementation of remedial action programs and analysis of the final results.

 The management of Secondary school “Ion Simionescu” Iași  is  aware of the phenomena of school dropout, there for it has initiated a project called “Ensuring Equality Of Children's Challenges In The Risk Situation For The Prevention Of School Abandon, By Developing The Network Of Professionals Involved In Education”

Starting from the fact that school drop-outs can also affect the vulnerable groups in their institution, the management of the secondary school has put in place an educational strategy to prevent this phenomenon, because their management policy puts prevention first and not post-factum intervention because it has increased efficiency, lower costs and losses. In this context, the teacher has to assume the role of agent of change, to help students participate creatively and critically in their own training. The existence of vulnerable groups in their school has led them to initiate the project.

The management of the school started to invest in their teachers, as they are the promoters of change.

The project represents a good context for the educational staff to assimilate new techniques of teaching and learning, to share with other teachers - from Iasi County and from abroad, about their experience with the pupils, to become more aware of the issues they are facing as a teacher, as well as the children are facing. The teachers can facilitate the change in their pupils. They can motivate the children to grow their interest in learning and assimilating new and useful information and abilities.

 The school is formed of 7 kindergarten classes, 27 elementary school classes and 17 secondary school classes. The total number of pupils is around 1200.

The educational staff is formed of 65 educators, teachers, school counsellor, professors.

The school has been operating since 1980 in the city of Iaşi being a public school.

Main characteristics of the challenge, description of the target group

Between November and December 2017, at the level of Iaşi County, a school abandonment monitoring was carried out by the County Inspectorate of Iasi (all schools and kindergarten from Iasi County are under this institute direct coordination) which targeted the following objectives:

  • monitoring the situation regarding the abandonment risk at the level of Iaşi County providing a diagnosis on the causes of the phenomenon of early school leaving, identifying the factors that generate a low retention rate of the pupils in the school system;
  • identifying effective measures for preventing and combating abandonment, highlighting the risks associated with this phenomenon, negative consequences of passive, non-interventionist practices.

Target group

In order to identify drop-out situations and the risk of abandonment school, the target group comprised all the educational units at the level county of Iaşi.

Analysis and interpretation of data

At the level of Iasi county, according to the centralized data, units were identified schools that have a large number of students at risk of abandonment in this with a total of 964 children.  The study shows that this phenomenon has more important dimensions in the poor areas of the county, in those communities remote from the urban centres and which has poorly developed road infrastructure.

 Data analysis reveals that 964 (1.05%) of the 91 000 pupils, representing the total number of pupils enrolled in primary, lower secondary and vocational education in the school year 2017-2018, are considered by the teachers as pupils at risk of school dropout.

 The analysis of the risk factors was made taking into account the two independent variables: the level of education and the environment of the school units, relevant for the research.

 The pupils that attend the Secondary School “Ion Simionescu” of Iași are coming from families with medium and low financial levels; also 3% of the pupils come from Roma families. After developing a research on our children, we can conclude that at risk are the children whose families have a low income and also the children that are coming from Roma families. In this context, Secondary School Ion Simionescu in Iasi took a series of steps to prevent school dropout, taking steps both by capitalizing on the existing resources at school level and by developing communication networks and collaboration at Community level:

  • monitoring absences
  • family, telephone, or parental notification addresses
  • meetings with parents
  • home visits, child and family counselling
  • discussions with legal representatives and the social worker at the mayoralty
  • differentiated approach strategies in the teaching-learning process
  • stimulating motivation and interest in learning by involving students in extracurricular activities
  • specialized intervention through school mediators, teacher counsellors
  • providing financial support through scholarships
  • increasing the attractiveness of the school by introducing extracurricular programs
  • (competitions, circles, sports, arts, etc.)
  • Promoting school and extra-curricular achievements of all students by organizing public events

Success factors and processes

The objectives behind the achievement of the goal of reducing dropout rates in our school are:

  • diminishing the risk of dropping out of education and maintaining students in the school system;
  • Increasing teachers' accountability in monitoring the factors leading to school abandonment / failure (migrant / retired parents, single-parent / disorganized families, severe chronic diseases) and finding solutions to ensure equal access to education;
  • participation of 15 teachers in European training courses to implement a program of innovative tools and resources capable of stimulating student motivation and diminishing school failure / abandonment over the next two years.

 To achieve these goals, we have carry out a series of support activities for children in difficulty:

  • post-school activities;
  • "learning by doing" activities;
  • club activities;
  • social entrepreneurial activities;
  • parent education activities
  • computer courses for students and teachers

 The strategy of our school to prevent abandonment proposes is by accessing training offered by three European countries: The Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain.

 1. The "Change Making Educators" course is being offered by Future Balloons in Portugal. The course was destined to 5 participants to accumulate the knowledge and practical experience needed to turn them into developers of sustainable educational contexts, or able to initiate their own educational projects using innovative tools (prototype, visualization, WAAL).

 2. Improving classroom atmosphere and student motivation in schools and stimulating student motivation will help us to learn how to motivate students to complete their compulsory education.  The experience in adult education guarantees the quality of the course and the fact that training will be beneficial for the five beneficiary teachers who will acquire motivating teaching / skills / skills (for students and for themselves) capable of preventing abandonment.

 3. The Task-Based Learning, conducted by the International Training Centre in Prague - Czech Republic (06.02.-10.02.2017),gave the learners the opportunity to develop new teaching-learning skills, able to provide equal opportunities in education, awareness and assumption of European diversity and interculturality. By accessing this training offer, the 5 trainees have developed their skills to work with disadvantaged pupils by acquiring " (TBL) adapted to each student. As a result of the transfer of good practice, the acquisition of skills, abilities and information, the analysis of the Czech educational policy experience, the participants in these training courses have acquired professional and personal skills and competences that will improve the scope and frequency of use of teaching methods centred on student. By applying and passing on to our colleagues the acquired experience, we have created the premises of massive diminishing school failure.

 Regarding the process of monitoring the absences, the management has decided alongside with all the educational staff to monitorize each week the absences of all the students.

There is a special online register in which the teacher would register the absence of the student daily, if there is. If the teacher observe that one student is missing from school constantly he has to talk with the child, then with the parents’ child. If the problem persists, the child should talk with the school counsellor. There should be develop an analyse of the situation and elaborate a report by the teacher with specific measures for that particular situation.  These measures should be developing and then implemented with the help of the parents. In this context, the parents could become more aware of the importance of the school for his/her child.

 The project ended with a Symposium Educational Strategies that Promote Ensuring Equal Opportunities for All Students to Prevent School Abandon, organized on 17th of November 2017.

The event was formed of 3 parts:

  • Educators- the promotors of change
  • Task-centred learning techniques,
  • Strategies to prevent school dropout

The Symposium was organized by the elementary School “Ion Simionescu” Iași, in partnership with:

  • ITC International Prague, Czech Republic
  • Future Balloons, unipessoal, lda - Figueria de Foz, Portugal
  • ESMOVIA (Sistema Practices s.l.),Valencia, Spain
  • Szkola Podstawowa Nr 3 Im. Jana Brzechwy W Pulawach, Poland
  • Ecole Elementaire Jean Jaures 1, France
  • Istituto Comprensivo Carmagnola 3, Italy
  • Proto Dimotiko Sxoleio Melission, Greece
  • Ceip San Isidro Aranjuez, Spain
  • Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași
  • Technical University of Iași
  • Children's Palace
  • County Center for Resource and Educational Assistance Iasi
  • Social Alternatives Association
  • Ion Simionescu Association
  • County Inspectorate, Iași
  • HighSchools from Iași
  • Secondary Schools from Iași

The concretization of the symposium's manifestations is represented by the editing of the volume of the symposium, which includes the presented works.

The volume is both in Romanian language as well as in English.

Impact of measures taken

During the year of the project implementation the teachers from our school have been exposed to several different culture and have been put into the situation to talk and debate regarding the problems they are facing in their school. IN the same time, they were able to find out how their colleagues are overcoming the challenging’s they are facing and therefore to be able to learn from them.

 The teachers involved in this project are more opened to the problems the pupils are facing and are aware of the steps they should take if the children are at risk.

During the last year there has been registered a decrease in absenteeism with 10%. There was pupil who need more attention. Some of them skipped school because others did; other student skipped school because they did not get along with a certain teacher; others skipped school because they did not have time to learn and wanted to be listened or to take a test. Therefore, the teachers agreed to be more cautions to the students need, to offer them a secure place and comfortable one, to make the students like school.

 The training the teachers attend to offered them the possibility to open up their heart and mind regarding the students’ problem, moreover offered them ways to communicate with the children and together with the parents have come up with individual solution and measure for each situation.

 The educational staff has become more aware of the benefits of the new technology in the process of teaching and learning. Both categories – teachers and children-  have taken computer classes in order to learn how to use it in the process of learning and teaching. The educational staff from our institution have noticed the student’s attention has increased when the digital tools are used, also the children are able to assimilate the information better and faster.

The educational staff was encouraged to use project, as a tool of assimilating information. The classroom was divided in several working groups. Each group was assigned a theme of research. Each member of the group had to cover a special part of the theme. After a short period of time, each time had to present the project. The teachers noticed that, by involving each student in one project, there were several benefits: each of them was challenged to work in team, also by researching individually the student was able to learn more about the subject and to assimilate with pleasure the information.

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Target group of good practice:

Teacher

Country:

Romania

Author:

Prof. Nicoleta Prepeliță

Institution:

Școala Gimnazială Ion Simionescu

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