Comenius Project: Anti-Xenophobia in Primary Schools:

 

During our visit, we had the opportunity to visit Het Palet School in Opheusden, the Netherlands  and Marienbaumer Modell in Xanten, Germany.

At Het Palet School we had meetings where we discussed various topics such as the running of the school, teaching and learning styles adopted by the school, the use of tablets in the classroom, the mediator system during breaks, school uniforms, school budgeting and the curriculum framework.  We also had a tour of the school.

We also had the opportunity to observe a demo lesson using tablets.  The teacher had three different age groups in the classroom.  This may sound like an impossible feat, yet much of the work and organization is carried out by the programme supplied with the tablets. This programme focuses on saving a lot of corrections for the teacher and helped student autonomy in learning.

Parents can access their child’s portfolio from home and check his/her progress. Parents can try the tablets too.  

At one instance, a group of students were carrying out dancing activities on their own in the schools foyer.  We were impressed with the high level of discipline that these activities were carried out. 

We also carried out two science and technology activities with the oldest age group in the school.  The first activity was a reaction-time testing activity while the second one involved students who worked in groups to design and make a strong paper structure to span a given distance. 

Whenever there is a quarrel, the students involved do not refer the incident to the teachers but try to find a solution themselves with the help of the mediators. This is known as the ‘Mediator System’ and the school has acquired a reputation as a ‘peaceful school’.

A curriculum framework is provided by the State Education Division and then every school is allowed to fill up the gaps according to its particular needs and goals to be reached.  In this way, policies are not carried out top-down.  Schools and the teachers themselves have ownership of the Curricula, are self-providing and independent. 

The school we visited in Xanten on the 28th May has a population of 79 students, 1 Head, 5 teachers and 1 student-teacher.  During our observations, we noticed that 9 year old students were comfortable using a microscope. Children had the opportunity of self-evaluating their work by means of multi-coloured simple resources.

Worthy of special note was an after-school programme which aided students who had parents working till late.

It was remarked  by the Dutch and German teaching staff that children from Sannat school knew a lot about other countries including the Netherlands.

On the same day, an evaluation meeting was held where everyone present attended. The meeting started with a welcome note by the project coordinator Mr Anton Verwey.   He thanked all those present for their hard work throughout the year and asked them to share experiences to give feedback.  After around thirty minutes of professional dialogue, the group divided itself into two:  Mr Vervey and the Heads of Schools remained in the room whilst the remainder attended the presentation prepared by the Gozitan delegation (Qala and Sannat Primary School).  The presentation focused on the activities held by the schools on Gozo (Sannat and Qala), in relation to the Project.

The meeting between Mr Vervey and Heads of School evaluated the progress of the first year of the Comenius Project (2013-2014). 

On a side note, people from different countries should ideally be hosted in the same hotel.

More especially, parents must be informed how to access the Comenius Project website.

 

Daniel James Cassar Donald Gauci Paul Camilleri Joseph Gatt