The idea behind the international Erasmus+-project Non-For-Lesl (Non-formal learning can prevent early school leaving) is to respect and document knowledge and competencies that go beyond school knowledge.
Many students leave school without a degree because they lack motivation. They do not feel taken seriously or feel that they know “the wrong things”.
Therefore the E-Tool “MyKey” was developed (see www.non4lesl.eu) that enables students to document their knowledge and skills which they learnt outside school. Within this programme the can relate to one of 8 key competencies of the EU and a school subject. They have to explain their choice. These 8 key competences are:
- Communication in the mother tongue;
- Communication in foreign languages;
- Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology;
- Digital competence;
- Learning to learn;
- Social and civic competences;
- Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship;
- Cultural awareness and expression.
In addition to that they can upload documents, videos, photos etc. that prove their competencies.
In a next step, it is one of their teachers’ task to decide whether there is a competency gain caused by the activity.
Over a longer period of time the students can work on a kind of parallel certificate, a synopsis of their competencies, which is certified by the school.
The students feel more acknowledged and more motivated. They feel that they are accepted as complete personalities.
The document can be used for applications of all forms. Some of the students did actually use the document for applications during the course of the project.
Context of good practice
The concept was tried out at Glockseeschule Hanover. This school was founded in 1972 in Hanover and is organized as a full-day-school and comprehensive school from years 1 to 10. It can be assigned to reformist pedagogy, but is run by the state. It has ca. 210 students, 21 teachers, one social worker. There are no school bells, no strict 45-minute lessons. Students arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 o’clock, at 9:00 o’clock the day starts with a class conference.
We undertook a test run with various students of year 9 and noticed that MyKey worked in most cases. The young people were motivated and convinced of the tool’s usefulness. We have to add that not all of the students were endangered by school leaving, which on the other hand showed us that the tool does also work for students without or with less problems at school, that it can be an extra motivation.
All in all, young people had the impression that MyKey is a useful tool which they can use and which helps them to show their individual competences thoroughly. A side effect is that teachers learn to know their students better (and from a different perspective).
Main characteristics of the challenge, description of the target group
The main characteristic was definitely lacking motivation due to the students’ age group (puberty) and their need of recognition for knowledge and skills that are not taught in school. When there are strong conflicts, MyKey is less useful, because it requires quite a lot of cooperation from students.
One teacher’s words reflect this perfectly: “I know that MyKey is not suitable for some students. It is too difficult for them when they lack basic knowledge or elemental competencies. However, I have 4-5 students for whom this is exactly the right thing. They are talented and clever, but do not feel well in their surroundings as they are.”
There were 6 students involved (14-15 years of age) and 2 teachers. Three students lacked the necessary motivation, they came from less educated background.
Success factors and processes
The document provides all the necessary information and refers to all the supporting materials for schools and policy-makers to implement MyKey - addressing the issue of early school leaving (ESL) in their educational context. The strategy describes the needs, objectives and the approach/steps for the validation of non-formal/informal learning, as well as the way MyKey help students, teachers, educationalists and policy-ma¬kers to achieve this aim. The developers can offer students who are interested an access to MyKey within a very short period of time.
The school receives the admin access-data and can install everything within ca. 2 hours. Students can create their own avatars and profiles. To keep the time as short as possible, we recommend the installing of an extra workshop (a working group) that meets regularly and at regular intervals.
The students chosen should have at least half a year’s time to document their activities and their development. It is important to have at least one teacher who supports them and motivates them to stay ‘on board’. It is extremely important that the students understand the use of the tool correctly. This will help them to develop their own motivation.
The resources needed are not too many. There are manuals how to manage the tool, and the school needs to find one or more teachers to support this.
The tool was developed by education experts from all participating countries involved in the Erasmus+-project. Programmers worked on the tool, teachers and students helped to improve it. Teachers who were interested in cooperation and who had some students whom they needed to support more for lack of motivation in their lessons.
The tool can be used for whole school classes as well as for individual students. There is no limitation.
Learning frequently takes place outside formal education and training – at home or through leisure time activities – and is fre¬quently overlooked and ignored.
Using the MyKey-tool is similar to an e-portfolio in which students can describe their skills in an individual profile and make their special skills visible.
The students and teachers involved created their own profiles on MyKey. Teachers were supposed to advertise the tool in their classrooms and explain its use and aims. It should be used for at least half a year. The students involved should meet with their teachers once a week for one hour or more. The teachers should help them during that time with their profiles.
The only things necessary for teachers, who are the main actors together with the students, is an access to the tool MyKey and the competence to use it.
The relationship with students should allow for these extracurricular activities, the activity itself and the extra time needed requires the support by the Head of School.
The timeframe of at least half a year is needed, it could also be organized from intermediate until the final exams. Particularly vocational schools have reacted very positively on our offer. MyKey is easy and uncomplicated. The time resources needed are 1-2 hours per week for students and teachers.
Impact of measures taken
- Students can lose their motivation quickly. It is important to
- explain the use and aims of MyKey clearly and repeatedly (if necessary)
- support them regularly and arrange regular meetings (e.g. in small working groups)
- It is better to have smaller groups of students to be able to support them properly.
- Also teachers can be demotivated by lack of time. Therefore it is very important to have a clear time structure and the school head’s support.
Relatively small: 1-2 hours per week for teacher/student.
Also the installation of the tool MyKey as well as the preparation for teachers does not require a lot of time (ca. 2 hours).
Resources needed: a computer, internet access, a room to meet.
Any other information
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Target group of good practice:
Ms Ilona Bíró (deputy director)