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23rd Primary School of Kalamaria

Address: 13 Patmou St., P.C. 55131, Thessaloniki

Country: Greece

 School website


Project: A school without walls: Co-creating an open and sustainable learning community

Working language during the project:

  • Greek
     

Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Making children’s and students’ voices heard
  • Preventing violence and bullying
  • Tackling discrimination
     

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:

  • Value cultural diversity, openness to cultural otherness, respect, listening, critical understanding of the self :
    Pupils participated in an oral history project: they collected life stories from their immigrant and refugee schoolmates and family stories of migration and refugee movements from the past. Children made a documentary film by synthesizing different life stories.
  • Linguistic, communicative, plurilingual skills, cultural empathy, critical understanding:
    Pupils made a lexicon of Greek and Arabic common phrases and conversations.
  • Cooperation, communication, responsibility, flexibility-adaptability, autonomous learning skills, empathy:
    Peer groups were created for cooperation and interaction among Greek pupils and pupils of different nationalities. Native pupils took the initiative to familiarise refugee children with school life, its rules, rights and responsibilities. They also listened to their schoolmates' needs.
     

Target group age range:

  • 5-11
     

Level of education:

  • Primary education

Short description of the project:

Aims/objectives

Our project comprised educational activities which aimed to prevent discrimination and to support the inclusion of refugee pupils in our school community.

Specifically, we created peer groups for cooperation and interaction among Greek and pupils of different nationalities. Greek pupils took the initiative to familiarize refugee children with school life, its rules, rights and responsibilities. It is worth mentioning that most of refugee children hadn’t any previous school experience in their own country because of the war.

In addition, we promoted communication and self -expression by the support of a network of mediators, both adults and elder pupils, who knew the languages which the refugee children spoke. Thus, we made refugee children’s voice heard. At the same time, native children found out similarities among the Greek and the Arabic language. A lexicon with basic common phrases was made by pupils.

The daily school programme was enriched with cross-curriculum learning activities which promoted the use of all children's special cultural capital and the developing of different skills. In particular, for our oral history project, children collected family stories which depicted the different past of both refugee and Greek children. Greeks had experience of migration and refugee movements in their history. Pupils’ personal identity proved to be multidimensional. A school archive of tangible and intangible culture was created and the children made a film by synthesizing different life stories.

In addition, we applied cooperative teaching strategies such as action research and team working in projects, which developed the sense of belonging to a community. The participation of children’s relatives and other local society members was encouraged. The learning process at school became more “open”, based on dialogue and the interaction of different aspects. Diversity proved to be an important benefit. Respectively, social prejudices against the “other” were discussed and provoked.

Teachers communicated and reflected critically on their practices and the educational material they could use. Special meetings were organised and as a result the school programme was enriched with subjects and activities promoting values such as equality and justice. Peer evaluation of teachers’ practices was carried out.

In addition, our school regulation was developed based on the values of mutual respect and collaboration.
 

Expected results/outcomes

  • Discrimination prevention
  • Cooperation, Communication and Critical reflection among teachers, pupils and parents
  • Application of innovative teaching strategies such as action research.
  • of an archive with life stories and photos of family heirlooms about migration and refugee movements.
  • Social skills development.
  • Creation of a cooperative school culture
  • Making our school open and sustainable.
     

Changes

Mutual respect, openness to cultural otherness, valuing equality, justice and democracy, valuing cultural diversity, development of empathy, linguistic and communicative skills, development of critical thinking, critical understanding of the self and the world.
 

Challenges you faced

  • Preconceptions of students and their parents, based on a “deficit” approach, regarding the abilities of refugee children;
  • Low expectations of some colleagues and their lack of knowledge of intercultural education, human rights and citizenship education;
  • The knowledge centered curriculum and the lack of time for critical thinking and self-reflection.
     

Time-frame of the project:

A school year - 9 months.
 

Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

  • Living democracy-manuals for teachers
  • Democratic governance of schools
  • All different – all Equal
  • Compass
  • Compasito
  • Mirrors