The first half of the Early School Workers project and its progresses

It’s been one year and half that the “ESW: Early School Workers” project has started. The project partners have been involved in 2 out of 3 staff training events, 2 project meetings, the realisation of 2 Intellectual Outputs (available for download here) and a consensus conference. During these months they also had the possibility to start the first piloting phase of the new curriculum based on UTC (University Technical College) features and to organise different trainings for trainers.

In March 2020 they planned to have the third training staff and the third project meeting but, due to the COVID-19 emergency, they had to cancel all the activities and move online. Therefore, on the 22nd of April they met on Teams and, besides discussing about the state of play of the project and its future, the user partners had the occasion to present the results of the first piloting phase. In fact, different PBL (Project Based Learning) activities have been organised in the last months by the German and Italian partners, all of them with very good results.

One of the PBL activities by CJD “Autumn Move” was developed at the “REWE” supermarket in Bergneustadt. Nine students from the Sales sector (VET centre in Gummersbach) had the possibility to spend three weeks (6 days/week, 8 hours/day) in a supermarket for a real work experience that gave them the possibility to deal with real customers and to live the first working experience in their lives.

Besides understanding how it really feels to work daily for several hours during an assigned time and to assigned tasks, this helped the youngsters to think about which departments of a market they will see themselves in the future. In addition to getting to know a work routine in such a market, the students had to face specific challenges: physical (standing, carrying, walking), mental (being attentive), and social (talk to customers and staff entails choose the right words and volume).

They were professionally guided and supported by the REWE team as well as accompanied by two of their teachers from the school and their VET instructor. Among the main benefits, the students gained confidence and felt they were taken seriously, moreover, the change of location allowed a more open communication.

ENDO-FAP experience, called “LetsApp”, was about a national contest promoted by the Ministry of Education, sponsored by Samsung Electronics Italia and focused on how digital technology can make our life and our work better. 17 students from Graphic sector (Borgonovo VET centre) worked in groups to design mobile applications and create their names, logos, and templates. Through this project the students had the opportunity to work on three teaching areas at the same time: information technology, literacy (Italian and Arts) and graphics, whose teachers guided and helped them.

The project started in January and was supposed to continue until mid-March (8 weeks in total), but the COVID-19 emergency stopped it before and they continued working from home in new ways. Since the project was linked to a contest, the role of the employer was somehow missing even if at a certain point the students were supposed to receive a feedback on the work made. In any case, the lockdown led also to positive effects on students: they showed to be creative in solving problems and most of them accepted the challenge and positively assessed the work done even if using different tools.

ENAC project “Job & Creativity Fair 2019”, developed by ENAC Puglia, is a local convention organised by University of Foggia dedicated to facilitate the student employment by local companies. It’s a three-day event during which several workshops and seminars take place too. ENAC Puglia was commissioned by the University of Foggia to organise and manage the food area (i.e. restaurant, bar area, etc.): for 3 days (30 hours) 47 students and 9 staff members worked in the Fair providing food and beverage to the public during lunches and breaks. Moreover, they also delivered a “private banquet” for 200 special guests.

Students had the opportunity to deal with a real order and real clients and, moreover, all teaching subjects were involved. The project required teachers to bring up to date the students about daily activities and tasks and to adapt the school calendar, teaching modalities and evaluation to the new context and, on the other side, asked students to manage economic and logistic aspects. The main weakness in this case was the engagement of the students at the very last moment by the event organiser that led to the lack of preparation and of the evaluation plan.

Starting from these first experiences and after observing and evaluating the roles of the teachers involved in the projects, user partners will continue in developing their own curriculum to be tested for a whole year.