Early School Workers: Piloting new curriculum in European VET centres during pandemic times
The last year of ESW – Early School Workers project – has just started and, despite the pandemic, partners are determined to carry it on till the end.
It started in 2018 with the aim of supporting the renovation of VET systems in Europe with the ultimate goal of tackling Early School Leaving and increasing the youngsters’ employability. In order to reach this objective, the project intended to further strengthen the key and professional competences of young people attending the VET pathways.
A school that seemed to reply to these needs was identified in the English UTC (University Technical College). Therefore, the partnership visited the UTC in Warrington and started studying its structure and organisation. After the first staff training event and after having studied all the necessary documents, the partners elaborated a Concept Model (Intellectual Output 1 of the project) validated during a public event held in Brescia (IT) in May 2019 attended by EfVET members too. They then proceeded their work with the creation of a Methodological Framework and common tools (Intellectual Output 2) to transfer the model itself to the Italian, German, and Spanish context.
With the help of the Cattolica University the four user partners (ENAC, ENDOFAP, CJD, and IES Puerta Bonita) started a short piloting in their centres and achieved the first results just before the pandemic that suddenly affected all the countries in the world. As we all have adapted to the new situation and have found solutions to face it, the VET centres too looked for the proper ways to continue the project and start the implementation of the new curriculum.
For example, one of the PBL activities that CJD prepared within the project was the online preparation for exams. Absolutely not an easy task, but – as we all learned within this year – a must-have within the current situation. Furthermore, the PBL activities that CJD developed were based on the long experience on hands on VET trainings combined with aspects learned within the ESW project.
Now that the new school year has started the centres will test the new curriculum for a whole year.
A nice first example is offered by the ENDOFAP VET centre in Piacenza were students attending the graphic course needed to use single desks that were actually missing, so they renovated the old ones… with a PBL activity! They designed, drawn, coloured and painted the surface of their desk to personalise it. The activity has been conceived as part of the Didactic Unit “It’s not a school”, through which every year new students are welcomed: the aim is to help them to understand the new didactic context, so different from the traditional education they are used to.
Also, in Spain, at IES Puerta Bonita, teachers and students have started a new school year with great enthusiasm and desire to learn. Despite the difficulties in these times of pandemic, they are implementing all the planned activities, combining face-to-face teaching (50%) with online teaching (50%). One of the basic objectives of their educational project is to learn through real practices and to offer real products. In this line of work, they have planned the “Recording/Shooting Week” in which the students attending the first-year courses of Image and Sound will work together to produce diverse short films, working like real professionals.
Back to Italy, at ENAC Puglia premises, they are planning their PBL activities in a completely different sector: students will be fully engaged in the production and selling of their bakery products, taking care of the labels, the products list and also the commercialisation that will happen online. Then, if the situation will allow it, they will also go back to the School restaurant in January and they will manage it as they were real (Early School) Workers.