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Network of Democratic Citizenship Schools
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Early participation in decision making processes affecting the lives of young people is essential to their development into active citizens aware of their rights and duties and capable of exercising them responsibly. In this context, secondary schools can and should play a major role as practice spaces where young people can acquire knowledge and experiences of citizenship (local, European and global). There is a need for (1) comprehensive and adequate tolls that may act as step-by-step practical guidelines to be implemented by schools, as well as (2) the development of strategies to engage projects' target groups, namely pupils, and all other relevant school actors, such as teachers, administration and other non teaching staff, as well as parents, with a special focus on pupils that face disadvantage situations. In this sense, this project will target 3 school communities (1200 participants between pupils, teachers and non teaching staff, administration and parents) in partnership with 3 CSOs from 3 EU countries with the main aim to collaborate in research, sharing of best practices and action experiments for citizenship and participation approaches as first steps to create a "Network of Participatory Citizenship Schools". The project will also count with the constitution of local consortiums composed of all relevant stakeholders at local level, that will provide support for local activities. The project envisages to meet the following specific objectives and corresponding results: - Gather, organize, understand and compare information regarding youth active participation and citizenship in the context of each partner school and respective country; - Research and analyze, through a comparative analyses, various models of Participatory Schools and it's impacts in students engagement, early school leaving reduction and school environment; - Create a standard for schools across the European Union member states, in which each step will correspond to a higher level of participation of its members in school community, and correspondingly, to a greater degree of capacity to be Active Citizens on the local, national and EU levels; - Approve Strategic Plans containing the actions that each School community involved in this project will undertake in order to "climb stairs" in the Scale of Reference for "Democratic Citizenship Schools", during and after the period of project implementation; - Encourage young people's active citizenship, with a special focus on pupils in disadvantage situation, through their involvement in decision making processes and structures within the their school environment, which will develop their sense of belonging, commitment and active engagement in issues that affect their lives in the school, local, national and European contexts; - Launch a Network of “Democratic Citizenship Schools”, which will initially include the 3 School Communities involved in this project (acting also as multipliers) and later be opened to other EU Member States Schools. Main project activities will be: - a research phase of School and Country Mappings where focus group discussions, debates, interviews, among other will happen at school community level; - an official project launching, mainly for dissemination/multiplication and engagement purposes, - an international training course, where participants will further discover active participation and work on and approve the Scale of Reference for "Participatory Citizenship Schools”, - 3 local seminars, 1 per country, for dissemination of previous outcomes and to settle each school strategic plan to become a Participatory Citizenship School, - around 10 months of school strategic plans implementation, mainly by the school community, using its own resources and supported by local consortiums, facilitated and reported by the CSO partner, - a final Conference on Participatory Schools (EU level) and the correspondent Conference Paper, for best practices and experience sharing, project outcomes discussion and dissemination and follow-up suggestions, as well a the launching of the Network of Democratic Citizenship Schools and the Participatory Schools Label open to be used by other schools. Project implementation will be based on methodologies that allow for the maximum involvement of the group while valuing every single participant and partner by using active participatory, co-operative, inclusive and experiential learning methods, namely through non-formal education.
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