On 24-26 April 2019, EUROCITIES working group education met in Barcelona to exchange good practices and explore new ways to promote inclusive education and equal opportunities for all children and young people.
Bringing together 38 representatives from 19 cities, the meeting was opened by Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor of Social Rights, Laia Ortiz, and by the city’s head of Public Schools in Catalunya and President of the Barcelona Education Consortium, Josep Gonzales-Cambray.
In a first intervention, Jean-Jacques Derrien, chair of the working group, focussed on the role of the group in promoting equal chances for every child and highlighted the role of European cooperation in the area of education. Participants also had the unique chance to learn about the Catalan education system and the educational programme ‘xarxes pel canvi’ which promotes inclusive, empowering and future-oriented learning for all students in an initiative that spans 22 networks of schools covering all Barcelona.
The highlight of the meeting was the field visits to schools organised by the Barcelona Education Consortium which gave participating cities the opportunity to familiarise with Barcelona’s approach to innovation in education as well as with projects and piloted initiatives to combat inequality of opportunity. The day included the following visits:
Innovative and friendly pre-school organisation – Visit to Torrent den Can Carbassa
A new educational approach that brings together two infant education cycles (0-3 and 3-6 years) and implements a special training to improve teachers’ professional skills and help them adapt to the needs of today’s educational and social context.
How to use digital tools in an innovative and efficient way with pedagogical goals – Visit to Institut Quatre Cantons secondary school
A compulsory secondary education school for pupils aged 12-16 that not only includes digital tools for the use of pupils, but where these digital tools form part of the school’s educational approach and are included in its teaching content.
How to support projects in and with schools to reduce inequalities – Visit to Institut Escola Trinitat Nova school
A comprehensive teaching programme aimed at working for equal opportunities and pupils of all ages in a neighbourhood marked by social, economic and cultural challenges. The project pursues a close involvement of young people, their families and local residents while including, among others, activities such as an audiovisual media project and a community library.
What positive school leadership adapted to a territorial context can be like – Visit to Escola Rambleta del Clot school
A school teaching pupils from 3 to 12 years that implements an innovative leadership process with a focus on cooperative work and the use of new technologies, teacher training, the impact on the learning community and work on a new curricular and organisational design.
The whole meeting followed the critical friend review methodology by which visiting city delegates act as ‘critical friends’ to provide constructive feedback to the host city on what works well and what could be improved in the approach to inclusive education. During the final feedback and plenary session, the participating cities (reviewers) univocally commended Barcelona for the ambitious vision and very strong team motivation across all educational projects while putting forward constructive feedback based on observations and interviews held at the host sites throughout the day. The feedback included, among others, ideas on further stakeholder involvement, building external support, suggestions to ensure the sustainability of projects and the scaling up of the innovative approaches used.
On the last day of the meeting, participating cities had the opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of the critical friend review and exchanged ideas on its follow-up, dissemination and sustainability of results. Participants also engaged in city updates and solutions to common challenges based on four underlying pillars: a good start in life for all children and young people, inclusive education, diversity and social cohesion and accessible services. On this occasion, cities highlighted good practices on teacher training and development of school leadership, the integration of digital tools in education and strategies to prevent early school drop-out.
The next working group meeting will take place in the second half of November 2019 and will be hosted by the city of Vienna.