Istituto Comprensivo Cavalieri - Scuola a indirizzo musicale
“Safe and SOUND”. Our way to well-being at school
Working language during the project:
Italian and English
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
- Improving well-being at school
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
- Knowledge and critical understanding of the self
Thanks to the help of teachers, coach and psycho-pedagogists, students learnt to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings in a respectful and thoughtful way. They reflected critically on their own values and beliefs from different points of view and in different situations.
- Co-operation skills
Students experienced the importance of effective communication and positive relationships for a successful teamwork in tailor-made cooperative learning settings. Students learnt to create a positive, open and caring atmosphere. They learnt to work together, helping each other, giving value to diversity and everyone’s potential, human dignity and human rights.
- Conflict-resolution skills
Students understood that conflict arises from differences, whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Students learnt the importance of respectful communication, experiencing active listening strategies, empathy, creative problem solving and team building, to identify useful options to resolve conflict.
Target group age range:
- 5-11 and 11-15
Level of education:
- Primary education
- Lower secondary education
Short description of the project:
For the last eight years, I.C. Cavalieri has taught democracy and human rights education from a whole-school approach. EDC and HRE are taken into consideration in teaching practice on a daily basis, in particular in those school-wide policies, practices and documents that define our school’s identity.
At the heart of our mission is the students’ WELL-BEING from first class in Primary School to third class in Lower Secondary School.
EDC and HRE positive culture and values have gone beyond classrooms, involving the school culture, the management structure and relationships throughout the community with a wide range of stakeholders. In the last few years, together, we’ve asked ourselves what could be done to foster well-being at school, following Seligman’s PERMA Model (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishments). Here are some of the main points we’ve concentrated on since then.
- The school is now a positive, inclusive and healthy environment.
All our classrooms allow an inclusive teaching methodology in a good sound environment (wall absorber panels, sound absorbing ceilings, sound-control acoustic curtains, LED lights, high performance speakers and smartboards connected to the school wi-fi) reducing sound levels, minimising background low-frequency sound, ensuring speech clarity, preventing the build-up of echoes, finally ensuring speaker and listener comfort. Both the Primary school and Lower Secondary school buildings now have acoustic environments (corridors and gym in both buildings, and the Primary school’s canteen) that are well-balanced, blocking out unwanted, harmful noise and enhancing those sounds that we want, and indeed need, to hear.
- Teachers, educational staff and school staff are committed to continuous professional development.
Holistic student-centred methodologies, inclusive approaches, principles and practices of education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, ICT teaching strategies and cooperative learning are only some examples of the main themes dealt with. Professional development encompasses a great variety of courses, recommended books, conferences and workshops.
- The school provides ‘Quality Education’ for all students.
Students with disabilities study and live in a learning environment which recognises everyone’s learning and social needs. Students with a refugee or migrant background are well supported, too (extra Italian classes, cultural mediators, tailor-made academic plans).
- Students are encouraged to develop democratic knowledge, understanding and skills and participate in society to defend and promote democracy and human rights.
Pupils and students participate in projects and workshops with educational institutions and professionals, joint activities and exchanges with other schools and partnerships with NGOs, local authorities and media. They learn about conflict resolution, bullying and cyberbullying, health and safety, drugs and other addictions, the rule of law, coding and soft skills.
- Students learn to understand, love and accept themselves strengths and weaknesses, needs and passions.
Teachers, psycho-pedagogists, mediators and coaches support pupils and students in the complex process of gaining self-awareness, providing opportunities for the students to talk and express themselves in a safe zone, without the worry of being judged or discriminated against. Students and their families are followed step by step in the usually stressful process of choosing a Higher Secondary school (educational consultancy services). Students are encouraged to express themselves artistically at Drama Club, Drama labs, Choir and Music advanced classes.
- Families are encouraged to participate in school life and decisionmaking.
Our students’ families are very active and organised. Every year they manage a system of private music lessons for students in the afternoon, a homework support programme, a charity run and many other events that enrich our educational plan. Thanks to voluntary donations the school has the opportunity to pay school excursions for students in poverty, replace old PCs and printers and, in the past, managed to buy the first few smartboards.
- to provide a safe and non-violent learning environment in which the rights of all are respected
- to develop appropriate competences, self-confidence and critical thinking to help students become responsible citizens
- to develop each pupil’s and student’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential and encourage them to complete the educational programmes in which they enrol
- to pass on universal and local cultural values to students while equipping them to make their own decisions
- to provide meaningful opportunities of professional development that teachers will be willing to commit to
- to renovate and refurbish the school to make it the most beautiful, pleasant, flexible, bright and colourful environment possible, where students can feel at ease and welcome.
- Aula da sogno - students designed a logo
- Our school has become the venue for Cambridge examinations, in partnership with British Council because of our soundproofed classrooms
- Our students’ INVALSI (a national examination) results are higher than average in Italy, in Lombardy, in Milan and locally
- EDUMANA (project against violence and bullying) - a booklet
- “Our school is nonviolent” project- a video
- I.C. Cavalieri, an Ashoka Changemaker School
- Renaissance: Growing Educational Communities Award
- Our educational policy plan (PTOF) lasts three years. In that time we try and sometimes change partnerships according to teachers’, families’ and students’ feedback.
Every year our school and educational policy plan are internally assessed (RAV) and a school improvement plan is developed. School self-evaluation is a collaborative, inclusive and reflective process of internal school review. An evidence-based approach, it involves gathering information from a range of sources, and then making judgements. All of this with a view to bringing about improvements in students’ learning.
Challenges you faced
- Time and delays can sometimes be an issue when dealing with projects and daily classroom practice.
Time-frame of the project:
- It took us 8 years to get to the point we are now. With the compulsory implementation of CITIZENSHIP AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW in the syllabus from September 2020, our school will work even harder on EDC and HRE in the future.
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
- Democratic governance of schools
- Multimedia Material (ex. video “Beat Bullying”, series of cartoons “Democracy and Human Rights at School”, video “Corporal punishment at school: how two parents decided to change things”)
Additional material provided by the school
Acoustically improved classrooms "Aula da sogno":
Acoustic solutions for classrooms:
EDUMANA project outcome - Primary School:
OUR SCHOOL IS NONVIOLENT project outcome - Primary and Secondary School together:
EDC OPEN LESSON with the Milan Anti-terrorism prosecutor Alberto Nobili: