Project Description

SUMMARY

Our two year project will build on strengths of previous partnerships and will further develop our pupils understanding of other countries and cultures. Throughout the project pupils will work with pupils in our partner schools to compare our lifestyles, our countries and our cultures. We will create a Pan European toolkit for young Europeans with learning difficulties to support them in transition to independent living. The toolkit will comprise of sections including living in a multicultural and interconnected world, healthy lifestyles, planning a balanced diet, making simple snacks, shopping, using public transport, access to community facilities, agencies that help, staying safe, sex education and relationships, parenting skills and home skills. The toolkit will be developed by practising teachers, health workers, dieticians and supporting agencies during the course of the project, at project meetings and with substantial pupil input and ownership of the end product. The toolkit will be a basis for individual pupil transition planners and will be introduced to all partner schools. At our first meeting all partners will sign the proposed European Declaration on the Health of Children and Young People with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families (World Health Organization 2010) to endorse our commitment to the project and to improving the lives of citizens with learning difficulties.

RATIONALE

Young people in our schools face significant challenges as they prepare for independent living. The challenges which they are presented with are common to young people with learning difficulties in all partner countries. Through collaborative work we will enable young people and those who work with them to prepare to live full and healthy lives in contemporary multicultural societies. Curriculum development supported by CPD will ensure all pupils engage in a meaningful appropriate health education programme in all partner schools. The pupils in our schools have few ready opportunities to meet and interact with young people and adults from different cultures. The project will support them in engaging with different cultural communities.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY

The concrete objectives of the project are:

1.To facilitate pupils to gain a meaningful understanding of other countries and cultures

2. To produce an independent living file which can be used as a basis for individual student booklets to prepare them for their journey into the next phase of their education, their lives and into adulthood, safely and with understanding. This file will be prepared by specialists from across Europe; each with their own strengths.

3. To ensure pupils have a greater understanding of their opportunities, post school in their communities and in wider Europe which will enable them to make choices.

4. To enable our students and our communities to have a greater understanding of the importance of healthy lifestyles, incorporating healthy eating, sport, leisure, how to stay safe, relationships and SRI.

5 To embed a philosophy of collaborative learning between all partner schools.

6. To plan, record and assess individual abilities within a common European framework in tandem with our Quality Assurance tool which has been developed over the life time of previous Comenius partnerships.

7. To engender in all staff and students a wider sense of European citizenship.

8. To encourage a deeper understanding of rights and responsibilities.

9. Staff development, including collaborative curriculum development.

 

As the transition of students into the next phase of education or into adult life is difficult, it is especially confusing for those learners with SEN, and the production of a relevant, meaningful tool to help them along this journey will be an asset to all schools in our partnership.

We seek to;

• raise the profile of young people with SEN throughout Europe.

• Health Education - As many young people with learning difficulties are not given the opportunity to live independently it is vital that all partners best prepare their learners to live full, active and healthy lives. (healthy diet, childhood obesity, eating disorders, relationships and sex education)

• increase fitness levels in all pupils and their families by engaging them in a variety of inclusive sporting activities enabling them to lead healthier lifestyles.

• develop all systems of communication including signs, symbols and expressive arts. Pupils will choose topics and exchange information using a variety of media each half term. Staff visits will be organised to mirror pupils' classroom work and to facilitate CPD and exchange of good practice.

 OUTCOMES

1 (08.09.12 - 14.12.12) Pupils in each partner school produce booklets a) about themselves to force self reflection about current state of health and wellbeing. This focus group activity will then be used as a baseline for the duration of the project. b) country and culture.

2 (07.01.13 – 15.03.13) Through a collaborative competition posters reflecting fair play, racism, substance abuse and sportsmanship in their national sport, students will gain a greater understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

3 (01.04.13 – 07.06.13) A booklet and DVD will be made in all partner schools, incorporating making a simple snack and planning menus. Pupils will be aware of nutritional content of what they eat and the health dangers of obesity.

4 (09.09.13 – 09.12.13) Pupils will gain an understanding of community facilities they can access and agencies who can help when living independently. Awareness of colleges and places of work will be explored and placed in a booklet circulated between partners.

5 (06.01.14 - 14.03.14) Students in all partner schools will work with health educationalists to ensure, understanding of personal safety by producing a booklet incorporating personal safety at home and in the community, substance and alcohol, abuse and SRI.

6 (07.04.14 – 06.06.14) A collaborative toolkit will be produced to ensure all students with SEN have a greater understanding of how to live safe, healthy, active lives in a multicultural community and will be enhanced with clear guidelines on how to access opportunities.

 EUROPEAN ADDED VALUE

The aim of the toolkit is how to live in a multicultural and international world. Our pupils live in predominantly monocultural areas and they have no ready point of contact with those who speak different languages or who are from a different culture was it not for this project. Through the partnership and project activities our team will aim to share good practice and expertise. Using the expertise in our learning communities we will design an independent toolkit which will make life and the process of transition more meaningful to those young people with special educational needs across Europe. During each mobility, leading experts in a specific aspect of our project will deliver a workshop and share their expertise with us. Mobilities will allow partners to develop specific health related curriculum areas which will be incorporated in the lives of all schools. Our team is made up of committed educationalists, each with their own strengths. Together we bring a wide range of skills to the project and are prepared to use project meetings to deliver CPD sessions to share our strengths. Following visits staff will deliver CPD to all members of the immediate and wider partnership to further disseminate the recognised good practice and work to develop an enhanced inclusive curriculum which has a strong European focus. Our pupils, their families and those who work them will come to regard themselves as European citizens with joint ownership of such an essential toolkit. Once produced, the toolkit could be incorporated in the curriculum of all European facilities for SEN. We would be unable to arrive at such a close co-operation or to benefit from the exchange of experience and expertise were it not for the mobility entitlement. For members of our learning communities with severe learning difficulties the project brings an otherwise inaccessible world to their classroom.

IMPACT

Most of our partners have had experience working on outstanding Comenius projects and it is because of the impact it has had in our schools and the expertise we have shared that we wish to continue and develop a life skills toolkit that can be shared with schools across Europe. The benefits of participation are the same for all partner schools, these being:

 

Impact on learners

A meaningful transition to their next phase of education due to a toolkit which they can use with understanding and is relevant to their needs.

A greater understanding of independent living skills.

It will give greater understanding of healthy lifestyles across Europe.

A greater understanding of being European and a member of an interconnected world.

Increased meaningful use of ICT as a means of communication.

The opportunity to work collaboratively with pupils from different countries.

All pupils will be aware of their rights and responsibilities and will embody quintessential values of European citizenship and be aware of European mobility.

It will give all pupils the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and leadership in areas of health education.  

 

Impact on staff

The opportunity to work collaboratively and communicate with colleagues in other European countries with increased confidence.

It will give a platform to share expertise and develop an essential toolkit which we can use in our schools and be shared with SEN providers across Europe, therefore recognising their status as feeling valued as expert facilitators. 

It will increase their understanding of health education through a planned programme of CPD and the need to promote independent living in all aspects of their teaching and the importance of a healthy lifestyle in all our lives.

 

Impact on school

It will raise the profile of our schools in the community.and bring the community into our schools.

It will allow us to further develop our ethos as healthy schools.

It will raise the profile of SEN in our communities, our countries and across Europe.

It will expand our community of learning by providing opportunities for families and the wider community to engage in health related activities.

School becomes a pathfinder for multi agency health education and has a raised profile in the wider education community.

 RELEVANCE

Two of our previous Comenius projects have been acknowledged as outstanding by the European Union and we aim to share and to develop our expertise with more schools. The development of an independent living toolkit could enhance the lives of all European citizens with learning difficulties and during our information sharing workshops, supported by health experts in all partner countries, a much larger audience.  By enlarging our family of special educators we can develop further expertise within our schools and the education community. The project will allow all staff to visit partner schools and gain experience of all aspects of healthy lifestyles which they can incorporate in the curriculum of their school and in the lives of the wider community. Mobilities will allow staff to share the expertise of health educators in all partner countries thus providing current information which can ensure the toolkit is accessible to those citizens with special educational needs in all partner countries and across Europe.

 DISTRIBUTION OF TASKS

The previous successful experience of the co-ordinator will ensure her roll is clearly defined, active and focussed throughout the project. The co-ordinator will:

-make sure that all partners have a clear understanding of project rationale, tasks and work programme.

-mediate in case of difficulties

-ensure project activities are delivered on time.

Each partner school will have a co-ordinator within school supported by a named colleague who will offer support or take over should there be a change of situation or illness. Each partner country will take responsibility for one area of the project. The roles are allocated by consensus and based on each partner's strengths. This is to ensure that each partner feels that they have an important role to play. These are : quality assurance management, use of ICT, etwinning, access for all pupils, measurement of learning outcomes by pupils and staff, media, production of end product. Roles will be further defined at our first project planning meeting although these have been agreed by mutual decision. The co-ordinator in each school will be responsible for communicating between partners on a monthly basis. It is their responsibility to circulate project work by the due date. 

QAM is the responsibility of Durham and Est

Curriculum development UK/Est

ICT Greece and Latvia

Etwinning – Portugal and Darlington

Access for all - Poland 

Media – Durham and all countries

Measuring outcomes for pupils and staff - Austria + Turkey

End product - Romania

Each partner will organise a project related workshop on each mobility to benefit learners and develop the toolkit.

Manageable, realistic targets are agreed collaboratively at regular project meetings will be evaluated by the co-ordinator who will oversee and evaluate the delivery of the project through regular communication with all partners. Evaluations are sent to the co-ordinator after each activity and project meeting,  who will use these as the basis for future planning.

COOPERATION AND COMMUNICATION

Although English is the working language of the partnership, there is due respect to the linguistic diversity of our partners. The use of symbols will enable all pupils to have equal access to the project content. 

A clear communications strategy has been developed and it has been agreed that the co-ordinator will be in weekly contact with all co-ordinators in schools using electronic mail. Every school has agreed to communicate with each other and not just pass messages through the co-ordinator to ensure collaborative working. Each school has nominated a second contact person to respond in a timely fashion to all Comenius related messages in the event of absence or illness of the principal contact. A directory of term time, holiday time and contacts will be available in each partner school.

Some of the project team have worked together on other projects and are very aware of the importance of regular  communication.

Should problems develop with email, a weekly telephone call, fax and SMS system will be introduced to overcome any difficulties.

Project work will be circulated at meetings or via the postal system - the pupils' work is viewed as pivotal to the project.

At the beginning of the project a forum will be created on our etwinning sites to allow all staff free access to communication and to enable them to exchange with the in peers in partner schools.

All partners will have a clear understanding of the calendar and of their responsibilities. We have learned that the written form is the most effective way to ensure comprehension of the project by those for whom English is a second language and all minutes, actions and timelines will be available in a written format. Regular meetings will ensure that all staff are aware of the project's development and issues arising can be resolved collaboratively. Prior to meetings, all agendas will be circulated and agreed in advance by all partner schools in order to actively all members of school in programme shaping, not just those who are able to take part in the mobilities.

As the project develops the mobilities provide opportunities for personal development, confidence in use of other languages and the development of personal friendships which is seen as very important to all partners.

The co-ordinator will circulate all evaluations and all pupils questionnaires as part of our quality assurance management system ( QAM ) which will ultimately measure the success of the project.

PARTICIPANTS INVOLVEMENT
Pupils will be involved in the whole process of the project.
Planning
 It was our pupils who chose the themes to be covered by this project and then allowed staff to devise differentiated learning activities which allow all members to have equal access to the work in an appropriate and meaningful manner, their ideas have been taken into account in all aspects of project planning. Planning took place during school council meetings where pupils expressed their interest and planned a structure which would allow the involvement of the whole school community. Pupils used a variety of systems to demonstrate their opinions which included; use of photos, signs and communication through computerised talkers.
Implementation
All pupils will access the project at an appropriate level regardless of their ability. Whilst the project will be delivered principally through taught lessons around citizenship and sports science, pupils in the autistic provision and sensory unit will also have access to the project themes which is appropriate to their need. In these areas the project will be delivered in a creative sensory style which will allow maximum impact and understanding through a multisensory approach and topic based learning.
At the beginning of each stage of the project pupils will devise an action plan which will illustrate learning outcomes and help ensure that aims will be met. The young people will access the project and engage with it according to their interests and curriculum relevance.
Evaluation
At the beginning, mid term and end of project pupils will complete a questionnaire which will measure their individual learning outcomes and throughout the project will regularly feedback and evaluate each aspect in order to assist with future planing. Our pupils will record their achievement using digital photography. These photos will be placed in individual and project portfolios and used as evidence of achievement. At the end of the project all pupils will be given formal accreditation to mark their involvement in the project by way of a certificate. Pupils in sensory and autism provision will have their experiences and achievements recorded by staff. Pupil evaluations will be recorded and published as case studies on the Comenius section of our school website.
Pupils will measure attitudual shifts towards considering themselves European through a 'Europe-o-metre'

 INTEGRATION INTO ONGOING ACTIVITIES

The project is delivered through PSHE, citizenship and sports science and will be incorporated and delivered across all subject areas as a cross curricular theme and differentiated according to the needs of each individual pupil, by all schools.  All curriculum content is written into schemes of work. Subject areas will embed the project in the following way ;

PSHE - Independent living skills, cooking , preparation of meals, healthy lifestyles, nutrition, living together, leisure activities, eating disorders, childhood obesity, substance abuse - including drugs and alcohol education.

Citizenship - global and European awareness, active citizenship, charities, extending intercultural understanding, rights and responsibilities, careers and volunteering, anti-racism, work around  and celebration of difference and diversity.

PE and Sports science - traditional sports of other countries, collaborative sporting events, motor skills, teamwork, communication, exercise and leisure activities, use of facilities in the community, balanced nutrition and awareness of substance misuse. Comparison of physical development programmes in partner countries - e.g. conductive education/ sensory massage.

ICT - use of digital photography, sending electronic mail, developing and contributing to etwinning page, video conferencing, building appropriate vocabulary into an argumentative communicator, accessing software with symbols and simple vocabulary of partner schools, using internet as a research tool.

Modern foreign languages - Simple words and phrases in languages of partner countries.

Food technology - following recipes using written word, symbols and DVDs of balanced snacks and meals, understanding of nutritional components which ensure healthy eating, menu planning

Mother tongue - researching information using a variety of media, letter writing, producing project booklets, learning appropriate Makaton and Pecs signs. Developing literacy and oracy skills with support for presentations.

Mathematics - data handling, measuring distances between countries and in sporting events, time differences, currency handling.

Science - testing recipes, nutrition, physical development, energy production, how the body works, production of high energy drinks and snacks.

Art and design - design of logo for partnership toolkit, displays showing project development, design of a Comenius T shirt.

 EVALUATION

We have set ourselves the following objectives and describe below how we will measure their impact and success. The co-ordinator will circulate all evaluations and all pupils questionnaires as part of our quality assurance management system ( QAM ) which will ultimately measure the success of the project. 

Manageable, realistic targets are agreed collaboratively at regular project meetings will be evaluated by the co-ordinator who will oversee and evaluate the delivery of the project through regular communication with all partners. Evaluations are sent to the co-ordinator after each activity and project meeting  who will use these as the basis for future planning.

1. To embed a philosophy of collaborative learning between all partner schools.

We will expect to see greater involvement in life of the school by members of the wider community, more active governance and greater collaboration between all staff in planning of cross curricular dimensions.

2. To plan, record and assess individual abilities .

At the beginning, mid term and end of project pupils will complete a questionnaire which will measure their individual learning outcomes and throughout the project will regularly feedback and evaluate each aspect in order to assist with future planing. Our pupils will record their achievement using digital photography. These photos will be placed in individual and project portfolios and used as evidence of achievement. At the end of the project all pupils will be given formal accreditation to mark their involvement in the project by way of a certificate. Pupils in sensory and autism provision will have their experiences and achievements recorded by staff. Pupil evaluations will be recorded and published as case studies on the Comenius section of our school website.

3. To engender in all staff and pupils a wider sense of European citizenship. Measured through baseline assessment and pupil centred feedback.

4. To promote healthy lifestyles. School nurse and health professional feedback, greater involvement in school sports and after school clubs and activities. 

5. To encourage a deeper understanding of rights and responsibilities.

6. The success of the independent living toolkit will be measured according to the increased levels of independence demonstrated by our pupils in the community and in their lives.

DISSEMINATION AND THE USE OF RESULTS

Promotion of the project will be shared at all times by partners and via the co-ordinator who was a British Council Comenius ambassador. It will be disseminated in the following ways;

 

In the participating schools

Comenius board in each school will inform the school community and visitors about the project. To make it accessible to all, words will be supported by symbols where appropriate.

It will be on the agenda of all school council and host school meetings

A Comenius group consisting of pupils, staff, governors and community meets half termly

Governors will be kept informed through planning meeting reports following visits to a partner country

Parents will be kept informed through articles in newsletters project work will inform all curriculum planning

Displays covering aspects of our project will be in each school

Displays will be supported by a digital photo frame showing visits to partner countries and work in progress

 
In the local communities
The following points will raise the profiles of those citizens with SEN in our communities and promote the value of diversity
Visitors to schools will engage in activities with pupils and view displays of project work
Pupils will describe their involvement in the project to visitors
Project work will be on display in school and in community venues
Project display will be on show in a variety of venues including libraries and tourist offices
Our booklet will be available throughout our towns and distributed to local politicians and our MEPs
The development of our etwinning site will keep all informed
Media coverage of events - visiting schools and launch of toolkit
Staff will give talks to community groups to promote the project and engage others at local, regional, national and international levels.
We will inform government agencies and Embassies of our project.
 
Wider lifelong learning community
The co-ordinators in will share project outcomes in their respective countries.
The UK co-ordinator has previously been tasked with presenting best practice models at EU level.
Case studies will be submitted to national agencies and to the Commission as example of inclusive practice.
Our Quality assurance management system will be shared with other schools
We will peer mentor those interested in partnership working and actively encourage this by including quotes from senior figures on our etwinning site.
We will share our experience with other staff involved in SEN; including initial teacher training.