Year eight pupil Ellie found taking part in the College’s Erasmus+ project an ‘eye-opening’ experience – interviewing migrants and refugees to share their stories.
Tendring Technology College, a large comprehensive academy school, is working with partner schools across Europe to compare their school education of refugees and immigrants and raising staff and pupils' awareness of key global issues.
Raising positive awareness of immigration and refugees
In September 2016, Tendring Technology College (TTC) secured over 21,000 euro of funding as part of the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Strategic Partnership project entitled ‘Every Child Matters - Refugees and Immigrants in Education’. TTC, located in north east Essex, and its partner schools in Turkey, Portugal, Italy and Greece are gaining a better understanding of the issues these groups face and exchanging best practice on how to support them. In the process they are also addressing some key issues, such as cultural tolerance, social justice, fairness and diversity. Over the 18 months of the project about 70 pupils and 30 staff from TTC will take part in exchanges and meetings and be able to share their learning and experience with their fellow pupils and colleagues.
An exchange of knowledge
The project involves online and face-to-face activities that are helping to develop knowledge and understanding of each other’s cultures and language. It is also raising staff and pupils’ awareness of global issues - such as inequality, conflict and sustainable development. In the first exchange, four students from TTC joined partner schools in Palermo, Italy for five days. Students prepared short presentations on their own country’s immigration, discussed the differences and similarities of immigrants and looked at how each country deals with refugees. In their second exchange in Greece, pupils interviewed immigrants and refugees working collaboratively to create refugee stories.
Ellie Moss, a student from year eight who went to Greece, said:
The Erasmus+ project has been a very inspiring and eye-opening experience which has helped with my confidence. It is such an amazing opportunity for everyone.
Sharing ideas and experiences is enabling the students to learn from each other, gain mutual respect and develop skills to combat prejudice, xenophobia and discrimination. It is hoped that the experiences will also enrich the lives of refugee students.
Valentina Burley, KS3 Humanities Co-ordinator said: “Our students were helping non-English speakers to develop speaking and writing and at the same time they were able to learn phrases in Italian, Greek, Turkish and Portuguese. One of the most important benefits was mixing with international groups in a school setting. They have found out a lot about each other and have become more confident in the process. Those who visited Mythelini refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece said that they found the experience humbling and different to how things are portrayed in the media.”
Participating students and staff are experiencing first-hand what it is like in other countries and in other school education systems. They are developing and increasing key 21st century skills in critical thinking, communication and cooperation, while having their minds broadened to appreciate others’ points of view and perspectives.
TTC met their Erasmus+ partners through the European partner-finding platform, eTwinning. They had previously worked with other partners through this free online collaboration tool and this helped them to successfully apply for and receive their Erasmus+ funding. TTC recently won in two categories of the British Council’s eTwinning National Awards 2017 and they continue to work with partner schools and share project news about their Erasmus+ project through eTwinning. They also use ‘TwinSpace’, an eTwinning project online space, to prepare for all their projects so that more students are involved in the activities.
TTC is hosting the next exchange where the pupils will focus on culture and how immigration has influenced the arts, particularly music and seeing how it has been influenced by different immigrant groups in each partner’s country. The final exchanges will take place in Portugal and Turkey where they will continue to work on this theme but look at how immigration has influenced festivities, celebrations and food and also review all the activities completed in the project. Valentina concludes, “This is my first organisation of an Erasmus+ project and it has been an amazing experience, for students as well as teachers. Students were able to share their experiences back in school, via assemblies, and they have encouraged several new members to join our after-college club. We are half-way through the project now and we’re all looking forward to the activities planned for 2018.”
At the end of the project the partners will publish a support manual which will be made available on free teacher sharing websites. This will include helpful methods for schools and educators, with the immigrant stories acting as a base for teaching resources. It is hoped that these final project outcomes and resources will build on our understanding of the issues faced by refugees and enable future refugees to settle more easily into their new schools and homes.
Watch Tendring Technology College’s eTwinning video to find out how eTwinning could start your Erasmus+ journey.