Tackling early school leaving (ESL) is a stepping stone towards improving the opportunities of young people and for supporting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as shown in the priorities for the EU 2020 strategy. In fact, one of the targets for the EU 2020, related to education, is to reduce the rates of ESL below 10%. One of the factors leading to ESL is the lack of prevention and early intervention strategies, both at institutional and school levels. In this regard, there is a need to develop effective methodologies and support in particular for young people with a migration background, who are among those students at greatest risk of dropping out.
For this purpose, the Erasmus+ project E-EVALINTO is aimed to provide a prevention and early intervention strategy in order to reduce the gap between migrant and non-migrant students at school.
The project is an ongoing strategic partnership project for school education, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and is carried out in international cooperation of Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Poland and Ireland. The project will finish at the end of 2018.
The objective of E-EVALINTO is twofold. On the one hand, it is intended to promote peer mentoring actions addressed to both reduce early school leaving in migrant student’s population (secondary school) and to acknowledge the value of interculturality itself as part of an active and responsible European citizenship education. On the other hand, E-EVALINTO is aimed to develop an ICT framework for assessing, managing and developing activities for intercultural contexts, with particular focus to taking decision processes.
Context of good practice
The partnership consists of six organisations including four Higher Education Institutions, a NGO and a Research, Development and Education Centre: University of Salamanca (ES); University of Cádiz (ES); Społeczna Akademia Nauk (PL); Dublin City University (IE); Oxfam Italia (IT) y Cardet (CY).
It is a lean consortium made up of institutions who had worked previously with success in the intercultural area and well-balanced in terms of competences and experiences regarding Research, Methodology, ICT and Innovation and Teacher and Practitioners Training.
The E-EVALINTO team is supported in this task by 5 pilot schools, located in the partner countries, all secondary schools with different percentage of migrant students and different gap between natives and migrants.
More schools from different European countries are expected to join the group of pilot schools during the last phase of the project implementation as part of the valorization actions.
Main characteristics of the challenge, description of the target group
Early school leaving (ESL) is an obstacle to the socio-economic growth of the European countries. The main consequences could be unemployment and poverty but also social exclusion, poor health up to the most serious involvement in crime.
One of the factors leading to ESL is the lack of prevention and early intervention strategies, both at institutional and school levels, related to the need to develop effective methodologies and support for students at risk of social exclusion.
From information provided by partner schools across Europe during a survey aimed to design the schools’ intercultural profile, these were identified as the core areas in which migrant students felt they needed additional help: Personal Wellbeing / Social Skills; Language / Communication Skills; My Culture, Your Culture; Study skills; Interests and hobbies.
All together9 school managers, 27 teachers, 51 parents and 113 students from Compulsory Secondary Schools participated in the study providing their personal perspectives on positive impact, challenges, teaching strategies and resources relating to their school community and the inclusion of migrant pupils.
During the pilot phase, small groups of mentors and mentees will be organized in each pilot school. Mentors will be students with a migrant background (personal or family; immigrant or second generation and/or nave student) enrolled in the final years of secondary school (15–18 years) or recognized foreign or native students, esteemed by companions, with a positive scholastic and social background. Mentees will be younger students with a migrant background, who need support for classroom integration.
Success factors and processes
During the preparation phase the E-EVALINTO partners developed:
E-EVALINTO Framework: the theoretical and methodological framework for peer mentoring and for evaluating the situation of a school with regard to interculturality, identifying at risk and potential peers to act as mentors. https://evalinto.eu/2017/09/05/identify-the-intercultural-profile-of-your-school/
E-EVALINTO Environment: an educational portal, which will offer to schools and teachers a complete set of tools and activities to manage the implementation of the intercultural mentoring programme with their students.
Teacher training materials: http://guiasdidacticas.grial.eu/evalintocourseweb/
The implementation of the intercultural mentoring programs at school takes approximately one school year and it is composed of the following phases:
- Teacher training
The course, designed inside the E-EVALINTO project and offered both in a blended modality or as self-learning, is aimed to train teachers in the promotion of intercultural mentoring as part of the school practices to deal with the issue of the early school leaving in young students with migrant background. It also provides them with tools to monitor and evaluate the impact of the peer mentoring actions to promote intercultural values and improve learning skills and the integration of migrants
- Implementation of peer mentoring activities
Selected mentors and mentees are involved in face-to-face activities combined with the delivery of the assignments and their evaluation through the online platform. The activities are essentially lessons that are thematically organized according to the areas identified by schools in the creation of their intercultural profiles. Activities use methodologies already in use in your school such as role play, project work, presentations and discussions.
- Evaluation of the impact
After each activity, teachers and students will complete short evaluations on their experiences of the activities to the E-EVALINTO online platform using the EVALCOMIX tool for the management and assessment of learning results. The evaluations are designed in three modalities: self-assessment, peer-assessment and teacher-assessment.
Teacher training is needed both to approach the theoretical and methodological basis of peer-mentoring and learning assessment and to manage the online environment.
A basic approach to this methodology could take a one school year and could involve a reduced number of teachers and students. Hopefully, if the school is committed to a long-term investment, it could be possible to have a wider collection of results based on several experiences carried out as part of the mentoring processes in order to assess their impact and to verify to which extent these experiences have been relevant in the school context as to improve migrant academic results and, moreover, to promote integration and reciprocal understanding.
Impact of measures taken
The program is currently still piloting, and the results will be evaluated in the Autumn of 2018. The teacher training course is receiving good interest in the pilot schools and it is hoped that the teachers will be able to pass on this good disposition to the students.
From Spring 2018, the 2nd phase of the pilot will offer teachers the opportunity to access self-learning materials.
The most effective approach in this kind of initiative is to create a strong collaboration among teachers, parents and students so to address properly and promptly the issue.
The main goals should be to design and implement a school counselling planto be incorporated permanently.
An intensive training to use the E-EVALINTO portal and its resources (repository, social environment diagnostic and evaluation tools) is needed. The investment is mainly based on the school human resources and the time required for teachers and students to organize their activities.
Any other information
Participating in this process will be both an educational and motivating experience for the students. They will be given the opportunity to refine personal and academic skills through the collaboration with peers, with the possibility of obtaining certificates in recognition of their participation.
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