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Accept, respect and get your message heard
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Context/background of project All the three project schools are quite similar from their backgrounds. All the participating schools are from small towns where internationalization is not self-evident. Moreover the students have a strong desire to learn about different countries, cultures and languages. All the participating schools have students with special needs who find it even harder to make international contacts and to get to know and communicate with people from different countries. The schools have some experiences from international co-operation but feel that more is needed to ensure that the schools offer the students international experiences. Thus an Erasmus+ project is required. Objectives of project The objective of this project is to promote international communication between different European schools and peers in these foreign countries. In the process the students learn tolerance, learn about different countries, cultures and school systems. They gain confidence, see the benefits of learning a foreign language and improve their ICT skills. In addition the special education students have a supported opportunity to experience internationalization. Common objectives are preventing bullying and school dropouts and social inclusion. Number and profile of participants The participating schools combined have around 1000 students and staff (teachers, school assistants and other staff) of 110. All the project schools have special education classes, (especially SOLV Campus Buso De Regenboog in Blegium) and thus the school personnel have a strong know-how in the special education field. Therefore there is a focus on special education. Nevertheless, two of the project schools have more mainstream students than special education students and therefore the project in each school involves all the students. Description of activities/methodology The two-year project has four meetings, semiannually. Each meeting is held in a different country (except twice in Finland) and by a different school acting as a host. For each visit there is a theme: the starting meeting in Finland literature and folk-tales, Belgium drama, Portugal theatre and the last meeting in Finland visual arts. In addition the meetings have a theme for the school staff, e.g. programmes and good practices against bullying, special education and inclusion. In other words each school in turn prepares and hosts the meeting and for each meeting all the schools contribute and prepare a presentation. All of the activities and methodologies are student-oriented which ensures student involvement and students taking responsibility of the activities as much as possible. Results During the project the participating schools present and share their special education practices. All good practices are discussed, an abstract gathered and published for future use. In addition the participating schools have an art exhibition in their respective municipalities, e.g. the town hall or library. The purpose of the exhibition is to promote the international project, the participating schools and the students involved in the project, especially the students responsible for the exhibition. Since the methods used in the project are from different fields of art, numerous art outputs are expected, e.g. music, dance, drama and theatre performances, artwork, videos and photos. Impact envisaged and potential longer term benefits. Most of all, the project hopes to have a strong impact on the students in the participating schools. The goal of the project is to strengthen the students’ confidence. The awareness of oneself and others help the students become more respectful and tolerant towards other people. Furthermore this has a positive impact on reducing bullying. The methods used in the project require student involvement which partly prevents school dropout. The project also aims to increase the awareness of being a citizen of each nation and the EU. The communication and interaction between the students in the participating schools develops the students’ language skills, information and communications technology (ICT) skills and language skills. The project involves several adults in the participating schools’ personnel. The staffs have an opportunity to learn about different school systems in different countries and to get new ideas to their own work. Furthermore this can lead to changing and improving the quality of teaching. Through this project the schools have a chance to diversify their internationalization. International connections to other schools in other countries can lead to long-term co-operation between the schools. A demanding international project, which requires commitment and effort from the staff and the students strengthens the schools’ cohesion and public image. In the long run the schools are seen as a valuable asset to the municipality not just as places of learning but as places of bringing intercultural aspect and experience

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