School profile. Istituto d’istruzione superiore Sandro Pertini is a secondary school. It is a technical and vocational school for Business and Chemistry but it also offers vocational courses for mechanics and agriculture. There are about 900 students and about 100 teachers and other staff in the school.
Social context. IIS Sandro Pertini is located in Alatri, a beautiful historical town in central Italy near the Appennini mountains with about 30000 inhabitans. The area is characterized by a high unemployment rate, especially among young people (about 30%, according to http://ottomilacensus.istat.it/sottotema/060/060003/12) even if it has many potentialities for improvement in many sectors like the touristic one.
Our students are aged 14 to 19, many of them come from a cultural and economic deprived background. Because of the recent economic crisis many of our students live in single-salary families. School is often the only subject playing a role in the cultural and social growth of these young people. The pupils often have a very narrow perception of the world beyond national borders, and their understanding of the European dimension and the culture and societies of our European partners and the importance of learning modern foreign languages for job market is limited. A surprisingly large number have not travelled to the nearby big cities nevermind to a European destination. This is due to financial considerations together with a fear of the unknown. Moreover the early school leaving rate is quite high because of disillusionment with the educational system or poor grades.
IIS Pertini is the leader of a network of schools in the North of the province of Frosinone for staff training and technical and vocational training for students. Our mission is based on tradition and innovation. We strongly believe in the social and cultural function of the school as an intermediary between students and the territory. We are active in offering services to the territory: our area is famous for olive oil production and our chemistry students help people who want to know the quality of their olive oil analyzing it; the same happens with water. Moreover our business students offer financial help to people who are in trouble with bills.
Inclusion in our school. In order to prevent school dropout and to increase school attendance, the school has been equipped with any kinds of technological facilities and devices, such as multimedia labs, computers, interactive whiteboards, and so on. We work for inclusion and offer a wide range of experiences to disabled students, the one with different levels of learning disabilities and also the migrant ones, who learn how to integrate in our school and society in our inclusive workshops (theatre, orchard, manufacturing, drawing, computer, language …). Our inclusion department works very hard to give each student the same possibilities of social, cultural and personal development., to fight discrimination and social exclusion of all diversities.
Building and vocational training of students. Students are our most important focus, we want to build them during the school years and guide them to face the challenging world after school. Moreover we want to make them aware of their possibilities, foster their potentials and enhance their abilities.
The school offers different services to our students, in particular we offer training possibilities during the last three years of school and support our students for a real work placement after they finish school. We have a work placement agency active in the institute since 2014.
We constantly look for new methodologies to teach our students the key competences they will need when approaching the world of work. Besides, we also look forward a cultural and social growth of our students which we want to become active European citizens.
Motivation to join European Projects. As seen, our institute has a wide offer of technical and vocational courses, there are motivated teachers, who try to give their best using new methodologies and facing the problems of a changing disadvantaged multicultural society. Our new challenge is to open our doors to Europe. Even if it might sound odd, the school has not taken part to European projects for about ten years, consequently the benefits of those experiences have already vanished because none of our students has experienced them. Therefore we are highly motivated to get a grant and start working with our European partners on our project.
The project of opening the school doors to Europe is very complex and global and it can be seen as a whole-school approach. A cross-sectoral approach and strong cooperation with a wide range of partners and the community at large is necessary to deal with issues which schools do not (and cannot) have the relevant expertise for. The whole-school approach is beneficial to all learners, not only to those at risk of underachievement or dropout. It can improve the motivation, engagement and social inclusion of all learners.
We have already activated the following actions:
- The internationalization is a strategic priority for our school (key area 18 in our school development planning)
- We have formed an Erasmus team
- We have started working on etwinning projects and fostered the teachers registration on the etwinning platform.
- We have taken contacts with the local eurodesk point in order to explain our students which real possibilities of building and work Europe offers them
- We have started a partnership with the local eurodesk agency in order to let our students train there for about 30 hours in a school year, so that they can become a sort of eurodesk ambassadors at school.
We are confident that such a project will interest, motivate and stimulate our students, and improve their learning experience in a wide range of subjects.