Erasmus+ makes international collaboration part of daily life at schools and day care centers

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2020-10-15 15:09

Teachers of the international team at Rastaalan koulu are enthusiastic about the international collaboration of the school. Internationalisation is an established part of the school culture. Pupils and teachers have gained new perspectives on the daily school life through international projects and the projects have contributed to the development of the school in many ways.

The project From stranger to community member (Muukalaisesta meikäläiseksi) was admitted Erasmus+ project funding in summer. In the project, Rastaalan koulu develops grouping, integration and wellbeing in daily school life.

“We need more tools and shared practices for welcoming the child and family at school, and for supporting staff in working in a culturally diverse community” Taija Palokankare, teacher in English and Spanish, illustrates the motivation behind the project.

“In addition, we want to find new models and tools for supporting child groups when new pupils from different backgrounds join the class”, adds Teija Järvenpää-Rantzou, teacher in Finnish as a second language (S2).

The school has worked on similar themes already for a longer period of time. The objective of the project is to combine existing practices into a holistic model and part of school culture. The contact to the partner school in Greece has already been established but because of the covid-19 pandemic, Rastaalan koulu is not yet able to pay the partner a visit. Instead, the school analyses existing models and builds a framework for the project. The collaboration is expected to be fruitful.

”The refugee crisis has put pressure on Greece. They have already come far in their actions. We are interested in learning about models and experiences that can be applied to our school”, Järvenperä-Rantzou shares.

Rastaalan koulu is an active Erasmus+ participant since 2012. The past projects have been awarding, and the gained experiences and new friends are valuable. Engaging with different curriculas, methods and children in different countries opens up learning opportunites.

”It has opened new perspectives on our own work when we have been able to see how others work and compare experiences”, special education teacher Johanna Helasterä enlightens about the benefits of the projects. The projects make children’s school day more versatile and they concretize the value of learning new languages.

“It does require work and you have to give the projects a lot of energy and time. But the outcomes overweigh the workload manifold. That is the reason we have always engaged in a new project. When you gain so much, you are also ready to work for the project”, Palokankare concludes.

Espoo is engaged in European collaboration

There is plenty of interest towards European collaboration in Espoo. Several city actors gained a positive Erasmus+ funding decision last spring.

A consortium of several day care centers in Suvela area was admitted funding to develop project based early childhood education and care and strengthen participation and inclusion. The objectiveof the project is to increase the child’s active agency and sense of capability. The day care centers wish to find creative solutions and methods.

”We wish to learn how to overcome communication barriers and how to listen to the child when a shared language is lacking. There are good European examples and experiences of cultural diversity, participation, inclusion and projectbased pedagogy in early childhood education and care. By building collaboration networks we can learn from others and share our own knowhow”, says Minna Kokora, expert in early childhood education and care.

Last spring, Erasmus+ funding was admitted also to Espoonlahden lukio for the project wE United, Meritorin koulu for a STEM project and Tapiolan lukio for developing broad-based competences. A group of young people, supported by Espoo youth services, gained funding for a sea protection project and Espoo City Museum for developing participation and intercultural competences of museum staff. Omnia is an experienced Erasmus+ actor, and gained funding for several projects.

#ErasmusDays are celebrated on 15 – 17 October 2020

Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. The programme aims at developing education and youth work and to increase the education level, competences and job opportunities of youth. In the sports sector, sports organisations are encouraged to European collaboration.

#ErasmusDays is celebrated on 15 – 17 October 2020. The objective is to increase knowledge about experiences and learning points of Erasmus+.

The international work at Espoo education and cultural services aims at promoting an appreciative and open-minded climate in Espoo, offering Espoo citizens opportunities to strenghten their international understanding and competences, and at developing city operations. The objectives and principles of the program are outlined in the International and Global Education Programme of Espoo Education and Cultural Services 2019–2021