Collaboration with the environment… (Urban Education, 5)

translated from Dutch: Onderwijs in Brussel is… urban education, samenwerking met de omgeving (5)

Rich environment

Children and young people in Brussels are growing up in a society that is becoming increasingly complex and diverse. Social inequality, multilingualism, cultural diversity and poverty are part of their world and have a real impact on their lives. As a result of this complexity, they need a lot of skills in order to be able to shape their lives and their environment. However, developing these skills is no easy task; it requires everyone who comes into contact with these children and young people to adopt a coordinated, tailor-made approach.

Not all our pupils have access to extracurricular opportunities, to the necessary help or support. Not all our pupils get the chance to explore the world. However, a metropolitan environment presents a lot of opportunities. One of the great things about the metropolitan context is that there is a concentration of a very diverse range of activities offered by various sectors with a direct or indirect link to education: schools, childcare and after-school care; pupil guidance centres; youth, sports, cultural and leisure initiatives; Community Schools, neighbourhood-oriented networks; ethnic and cultural associations and neighbourhood organisations; municipal services; learning and tutoring initiatives; poverty associations and parenting support services; community centres and libraries; youth welfare and youth assistance, etc.

This rich environment is home to a variety of professionals and volunteers, who work with children and young people based on their own vision, expertise and culture. And it is precisely for this reason that a great deal of time and effort is needed to create harmony and to come to agreements, in order to establish effective collaborations. And this is no easy task.

Building bridges

Urban education inevitably means building bridges. Teachers in cities need to invest in connecting the classroom (inside school) with the broader network around the child or young person (outside school) in order to stimulate the development of the superdiverse student population in a broad, integral way. In a metropolitan context, broad learning (active, social and meaningful) is necessary in order to respond to the considerable differences between pupils and to bridge the gap between the social environments of superdiverse pupils and education.

Community Schools, neighbourhood-oriented networks, educare initiatives, Tienerscholen (schools for teens), etc. are examples of how this rich environment can be brought together and how broad learning can be facilitated.

Children and young people come first

But we can take this a step further! Transformational collaboration (Fukkinck, 2016) is the most advanced form of collaboration in terms of both intensity and control. The focus is no longer on effective cooperation based on a shared mission; rather, this type of cooperation focuses on the development of a joint range of activities and programmes based on a common goal, in which the child or young person is the only starting point:

  • education, upbringing, development, care and leisure-time all merge and blend into each other;
  • children can learn and play, both during and after school, and are given opportunities to discover and broadly develop their talents;
  • supervisors (teachers, childcare workers, care coordinators, educators, volunteers, etc.) are part of one team;
  • it is centred around a continuous line of learning and development for children from 0 to 12 years of age, and around a vision that is shared by everyone.

In Brussels, we are seeing that a number of schools and Community Schools are seeking such transformational collaborations. If broad learning is implemented on the basis of a common objective shared by different sectors, then we will have achieved the best possible outcome!

to be continued (urban education, multilingualism, a minister and a policy paper)


Gepubliceerd door Piet Vervaecke

Directeur Onderwijscentrum Brussel

5 gedachten over “Collaboration with the environment… (Urban Education, 5)

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