The 2SMILE Project – An effective Learning Outcomes Approach to the world of compulsory education.

Since 2008 all European Educational Systems appear to use a Learning Outcomes Approach. Adopting a Learning Outcomes Approach when developing curricula is seen by many European countries as an effective way to promote more active learning and inclusive teaching. However, so far only Vocational Educational Training (VET) and Higher Education (HE) have used the effectiveness of a Learning Outcome Approach.

Outcome-oriented curricula can offer a valuable platform for bridging the worlds of education, training and work. It provides a common language between competences acquired in learning and those required by employers from the labour market.

The 2SMILE PROJECT

Funded by the European Commission, the 2SMILE Project aims to introduce an effective Learning Outcomes Approach to the world of compulsory education. It will target youths at high risk of abandoning education (or those who already have). 2SMILE also aims to engage juveniles known to the justice/social protection systems as well as children from migrant families. It is vulnerable young people who need to be in school the most. Research indicates that vulnerable children are more likely to fall prey to criminal networks and gang culture.  2SMILE believes that keeping children in education can be more easily achieved by focusing on a more inclusive “student-centred learning” approach.

A cornerstone of this pioneering project is to first look at how compulsory education delivers in terms of “learning outcomes”. What approach do teachers/schools employ when dealing with challenging situations? Are there any clear policies in place to manage students’ aggressive or violent behaviour?

These are some of the questions pertaining to a survey being conducted by a multiplier event involving seven partner countries. Between March and April 2019 Ireland, Italy, Greece, Finland, Portugal and Romania and the UK would have delivered workshops to discuss the role of education, local schools framework before completing a questionnaire.

The first multiplier event, delivered by the 2SMILE project coordinator, the London-based charity Youmanity, was attended by influential educators – teachers, mentors and mental health practitioners –  who are in constant and direct contact with vulnerable children. The workshop highlighted an array of environmental, psychological and institutional shortfalls affecting the wellbeing of very vulnerable youths.

“Our youths are from first, second or third generation migrant families, ethnic minorities, youths in poverty who are often exposed to violent behaviour,” explained Cherie Johnson – founder of the charity Shared Intense Support. Miss Johnson convoyed the success of an Ambient-Learning approach she employs both in schools and out of schools engagement with challenging children.

‘For example, my students’ academic and behavioural performance improves dramatically by taking them out of the classroom for educational field trips,” continued Miss Johnson whose extensive experience in working with schools and communities is transforming young peoples’ lives.

Understanding the bigger challenges of day-to-day life (e.g. what happens at home impacts how students engage in classrooms) was highlighted by Russell Williams from Unique Talent – an organisation working directly with criminal gangs to transform behaviour and engagement with society.

“The pathway from home to the school gate is the turning point of whether or not children will engage with learning,” said Mr Williams.

Upon completing the survey across the seven 2SMILE partner countries,  Youmanity and the Italian partner San Giuseppe Association – with the scientific support of the Finnish partner Diaconia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki and the Irish partner Instruction and Formation, will examine the data from the questionnaires. It is from this data that 2SMILE will extrapolate the best possible teaching method to be developed into a new student-centred tool kit. This will be discussed by partners into the next International Meeting in Dublin – June 2019 – and presented to the 2SMILE teachers and schools participating in the program at a conference during the 2019 October school half-term in Puglia, Italy.

The final stage of the 2Smile project involves the implementation of the tool kit in the schools in all partner countries by 2021.

For more info go to: https://www.erasmus-journal.eu/2smile-project/