Kick-off Conference Belgium
The kick-off conference for our new Erasmus+ project LIFE took place at Heilige Maagdcollege (Óscar Romerocollege since 1 September 2016)in Dendermonde, Belgium. Two teachers and six students from each of the other participating schools in Italy, Portugal and Germany spent one week in Belgium which marked the starting-point of the two year project. From October 23rd till October 29th the teachers discussed and planned the needs and the coming tasks and conferences while the students took part in various workshops dealing, for example, with business and marketing strategies.
The project aims at supporting the implementation of an inter-disciplinary approach, which gives the students of the four countries vocational orientation on a European level by organising two company-visits during each of the conferences. Students will get real life insight into local companies in their hometowns as well as abroad. The companies will be promoted by the students in the final business-fairs organised at each school in 2017 so that both partners of the project will profit from this process. Thus the interests of students, schools and companies are linked and the chances of employment for our students will increase. The project's aim is also to open new markets for the participating companies and innovate our teaching methods.
Concluding this project prepares the students of general secondary education in a vocational way and on a European level, which is a missing element in the curricula of all participating schools.
In Dendermonde the participants had the chance to get insight into the world's largest chocolate factory Barry Callebaut and into the small but very successful brewery Vicaris. During those visits the students gathered a lot of information, videos and photos of the two companies which they used after the visits to create brochures and even a commercial about one of the companies. Besides that, the Belgian colleagues organised study-visits to the European Commission in Brussels and to Gent.
The next conferences will take place in Portugal (April 25th till May 1st 2016) and in Italy (November 6th till 12th 2016). The last transnational meeting will be in Germany (March 5th till 11th 2017) and after each country has organised their final fairs or exhibitions a transnational project meeting will take place at one of the four schools.
In April 2016 the second LIFE-Conference in our Erasmus+ project was hosted in Leiria, Portugal, where students and teachers from Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Germany met.
On April 25th the hosts in Portugal welcomed 18 students and their accompanying teachers in Leiria where the next 5 days were full of LIFE.
As in Dendermonde, Belgium, the students were introduced to marketing strategies and learned and practised in workshops how to successfully advertise a business. The group also got insight into different companies and discovered what it means to manage a production process: from the ideas and modelling to the production itself and innovative ideas to stay competetive to promoting the products.
Therefore the students and teachers did not only visit the glass factory Vidrala and the juice factory Frubaca but also experts from the centre for innovation Centimfe shared their knowledge with them. The students used the last two days of the conference to create brochures of the companies and videos promoting the products in very creative ways. The results were shared in a lively presentation.
Due to the international teamwork the whole group grew together extremely fast and had wonderful days in sunny Portugal.
In November 2016 the next conference will bring students and teachers together in Imola, Italy. Again a week full of work with international groups and insight into even more new companies is awaiting the 6 students and 2 teachers from each country.
Another conference full of LIFE lies ahead.
Click here for a film about the conference which has been made by the German students.
During the week from the 6th to the 12th November 2016, in Imola, the students from the class 4H of Liceo Linguistico Alessandro Da Imola received 3 foreign delegations: 6 Belgian, 6 Portuguese and 6 German students. The “LIFE (Linking Interests For Europe) Project”, in which all the students were involved, is based on the cooperation among the participants, with the aim to promote an advertising campaign about a visited company and to sponsor an event or a product created by the students through multimedia presentations, paper leaflets and videos.
The corner stone of the project is represented by the visit to two companies in the local territory: La Fabbrica, an important ceramics firm in Castel Bolognese and “Cà Monti”, a well-known rural farm house located in Sassoleone, in the right middle of the hills of Romagna on the border with Tuscany.
During the visit at the ceramics, the production process could be observed, going from the clay selection to the finished product, exhibited in their showrooms. At Ca’Monti after the presentation of the surrounding area, of the company and of their biological production, the students were offered the taste of products that could also be bought. Activities went on during the week with workshops and excursions through the territory: a short visit round the historical city centre of Imola, of Ferrara and of Bologna. The Life Project offers the students the opportunity to get to know different cultures and to appreciate their peculiarities, but most of all it lets them approach the world of work.
We learn not for school, but for life.
This principle is the central aim of our LIFE-project and was put into practice in March 2017 when the final LIFE-Conference took place at Wittekind-Gymnasium in Lübbecke, Germany.
Students and teachers from Portugal, Italy and Belgium were hosted by their German partners and spent some interesting days together gathering lots of new experiences in different fields of work. The group visited the local enterprise Wortmann AG to get an insight into 'IT Made in Germany' and the screen printing factory Siebdruck Blase. During their visits they learned a lot about how these two international companies operate.
On top of that the students attended several workshops led by external experts. The focus of this conference was on the students' needs such as learning how to assess themselves, writing a letter for application and doing a job interview. Therefore the agency AUBI-plus offered professional application coaching for the students - especially on how to apply online and what to expect in an assessment centre process. Additionally, they were taught in how to create a professional promotional video. This knowledge helped them a lot when working on the tasks of producing presentations, brochures and a video on the two companies they visited during the week.
One of the highlights of the week the group spent together was the visit of Autostadt Wolfsburg. After their guided tour of the VW factory they all were very impressed by what they learned about this international enterprise. When visiting the different pavilions in the Autostadt they were able to intensify their impressions.
In the end all participants were happy with the outcome of the conference and the results of the promotional material that was created.
After their week in Lübbecke all participating teachers agreed that they consider a cooperation with the companies as something very valuable for their schools that should be continued in the future. When coming back home all schools have to prepare their local trade fairs now in which they will present their results to the local audience at school.
In May the coordinating teachers will meet again in Belgium to disseminate and evaluate the project together.
Dissemination at conferences
(1.) Dissemination at Vienna
Our project was presented at the Headteachers' conference of the Europroject network "Education Without Frontiers" in Vienna in October 2016.
The annual headteachers conference of the Europroject – Education Without Frontiers (http://www.europrojectnet.eu/) took place in Vienna at the Bundesrealgymnasium 19, from 6-9 October. The integration of refugee pupils in the European school systems was the topic debated by the delegations of 16 schools from 14 European countries over the three day conference work. Click this link for the media coverage.
The Erasmus+ LIFE-project, involving four participating schools (Belgium, Germany, Italy and Portugal), was presented at the conference by Koen Van Cauwenberge. Most headmasters were impressed by the possibility of working together with local companies in exchanges as to prepare their students better for the business world.
(2.) Dissemination Conference in Namur
From May 17-20, 2017 all partner schools met in Namur, Belgium to both evaluate and disseminate the LIFE project. All teachers travelled to Namur because Olaf Mertens (the 'Directeur à l'Institut de la Providence de Champion' http://www.providencechampion.be/) had heard of the project when attending the Head Teachers' Conference of the Europroject network "Education Without Frontiers" in Vienna in October 2016 (see above) and he became interested in implementing the same kind of project at his school in Wallonia.
That is why the guests presented the project to the school representatives on May 18 and willingly answered questions about it. Afterwards the whole group discussed the different steps that had to be taken and the advantages and disadvantages of organising such a programme.
A short interview with the host of the conference shows how the LIFE-concept was judged by the Belgian school.
Furthermore, the teachers discussed the different feedback that each school had got from both their business partners as well as from the involved students and parents. In various conference meetings, which could be held at the hosting school, the partners also discussed how the project will be continued at each school (and with each other) and how the idea of the project – linking schools and businesses – can be properly implemented in the long run at each school. Besides that, the different aspects that are part of the final reports which have to be handed in by the organising school from Lübbecke and also by the schools from Leiria, Dendermonde and Imola were discussed. These discussions enabled the participants to make first notes about criteria such as sustainability or project management.
(3.) LIFE in the Carpathian Mountains
When our partner school Gymnázium bilingválne in Žilina invited all the members of our European network “Education with our frontiers” (http://www.europrojectnet.eu) to their annual conference of all member schools to Slovakia, all LIFE teachers followed their invitation and seized the opportunity to proudly present their project.
The network, which consists of 15 European schools and has existed for almost 25 years, was eager to get to know about the results of the project and about the experience their colleagues could share.
As Koen van Cauwenberge had already presented LIFE in October 2016 at the last conference in Vienna, most of the teachers from all over Europe already knew about the project and were keen to hear how it evolved.
The two teachers from the coordinating German school, Jessica Stefener and Silke Horst, first explained how and why the project was conceptualized and what its core idea is - namely to link the interests of students, schools and businesses. Using videos and photos, they also vividly illustrated how the project was organized and conducted. Finally the LIFE teachers shared their experience and tried to give advice on how to plan such an Erasmus+ project.
The network-colleagues showed great interest in the project and by asking many questions underlined their enthusiasm. Many school stated afterwards that they contemplate writing a similar Erasmus+ application and organizing a project like LIFE because they also see the necessity to prepare the students better for the world of work.