Helping school pupils reach their full potential
Meadowhead School Academy Trust is continuously developing innovative ways to ensure their 11 to 18-year-old pupils receive the best education experience possible and reach their full potential. Their Erasmus+ project offers staff and pupils the opportunity to collaborate with partner schools across Europe. It has been awarded funding for three Erasmus+ projects, and recognised for its outstanding international work.
Through the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Strategic Partnership project, ‘Passport to your future’, the school is working with partner schools in Slovenia, Spain and Finland to improve employability skills of European teenagers. The students will work together to gain valuable knowledge about their own and overseas job markets and study what employers are looking for when recruiting young school leavers. They will produce an app, website, guidebook and teacher lesson plans over two years. These products will be disseminated through a wide variety of media, including eTwinning, to help as many students as possible to succeed in getting their first job after leaving school. They also expect the project to raise the ambitions and aspirations of their students, develop new friendships across the four European countries and feel confident in travelling to other countries and possibly securing employment overseas in future years as a result. Staff are using the European Union’s eTwinning online collaboration tool to document their work and share project resources and ideas with other schools across Europe, to help disseminate results and best practice. eTwinning is a free online community for schools in Europe that helps schools find partners and collaborate on projects within a secure network and platform.
The school was also awarded funding to run another Key Action 2 project, ‘Commuting across Europe for Work Experience’. This is an Erasmus+ student exchange programme running throughout 2015-16 based on cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices among already established strategic European project partners in Spain, England and Germany. Language students of 16 years of age and above will go to Spain and Germany to gain an invaluable insight into the European job market by completing a week-long work placement in a local business of the host country.
Finally the school was also awarded funding to run a project on ‘Innovation and Modernisation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Teaching and Learning’. Teachers and a senior leader went to their partners’ schools in Germany and Spain on a job-shadowing visit to observe best practice in the teaching and learning of these subjects, some of which are taught bilingually to certain age groups. They also visited companies who work with the schools to see how they work together to enrich STEM teaching and links to industry and careers in this sector. Staff are now considering changes to improve Meadowhead’s STEM curriculum as a direct result of the knowledge gained during their visit, and more collaboration between the three schools involving joint projects and exchanges of STEM students is planned. This project has significantly contributed to the teachers professional development programme and their work will be formally recognised in their forthcoming performance management reviews and via the Europass Certificate.
Raising the flag
As a result of their international activities, Meadowhead has been designated by the British Council as an ‘International School’ since 2004, and was the first school in Sheffield to be awarded the prestigious International School Award (ISA) for four consecutive terms since 2004. Managed by the British Council, the International School Award is a supportive framework that guides schools through their international work. Accreditation is awarded to schools where an international outlook has become part of the school’s culture. In July 2015 the school hosted a VIP visit to enable their students to showcase some of their current international work, which includes the three Erasmus+ joint curriculum projects and exchange programmes. They were presented with a special flag to commemorate their work and dedication to the international dimension in education by Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, and British Council representatives. John Rolfe, School’s Outreach Manager, British Council said: “We are delighted with the excellent success of Meadowhead School in developing a wide range of innovative and enriching international work that has great impact on all their young people.”
Jo Silverwood, Meadowhead’s Community Liaison & Communications Manager who manages international projects for the school, describes the importance of the ISA:
"It is a valuable tool to help our school document and celebrate the wide variety of International trips, activities and projects that are now fully embedded into our whole school curriculum to enrich the lives of all students.”
The school’s strategic approach to international activities enables them to forge links with partner schools around the world, enhance their curriculum and prepare their students for life as global citizens. It enriches not only the lives of their students but also those of their teaching and support staff who benefit from Continuous Professional Development opportunities. Mr Fowler, Meadowhead School Academy Trust, explained: “The international opportunities made available through the British Council and the Erasmus+ programme have given us opportunities to share ideas and good practice on developing employability skills and the teaching of STEM subjects. They also have a life-changing impact on the pupils involved and enhance our whole school focus on raising aspirations and understanding of other cultures.”