For 3 years, the primary and nursery schools of Galway (Irish west coast), San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain) and Antwerp (Flanders, Belgium) have been working together. As it is the first time that Jesuit primary schools have been working together in an international partnership for many years, this is a unique concept in Europe and probably worldwide.
Through this cooperation, we want to learn about each other’s culture and compare the different pedagogical methods in the 3 Jesuit schools and in the 3 different countries. We hope to improve our school and to be able to give a richer, more global education to our pupils.
At the moment, there are 3 international visits to the 3 schools each school year. In March 2017, for instance, 3 Irish and 3 Basque teachers will visit the school in Antwerp. During each visit, the teachers present their own school and their didactical approach and they compare the different cultures. The visiting teachers also teach lessons to the local pupils, always in cooperation with the local teachers. So the pupils are also actively involved during these international exchanges. The pupils really love it! It’s so exciting when a teacher from another country works with them! The general language we use is English, but during the lessons with the children, an intense exchange of the local languages is an important topic too.
We are currently working out some common projects and goals to make our partnership stronger. There is an information wall in the 3 schools where we put photos and drawings from the international partner schools. Charity projects to help people worldwide are a typical aspect in all the Jesuit schools. We try to share information about the charity projects of our partner schools and we try to help each other’s projects – a very positive sign for all the pupils! We are now also planning an exchange of local children’s songs. In the future, the pupils of the 3 schools will sing some of each other‘s songs in the 3 different languages; Irish, Basque and Dutch. A fun and creative way for the children to learn the language and the culture of their friends in the other schools! Internet projects and a common website are part of our future plans too.
Working together with international Jesuit schools is such a rich experience for the teachers and for the pupils. We‘re all inspired by Ignatius and we all have the same Ignatian values in our pedagogy. Visiting a Jesuit school in another country feels like coming home. The focus on the different cultures and the different languages makes each exchange extra valuable!
At a JECSE (Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education) congress in October we presented our international project to the principals of the European Primary and Nursery Jesuit schools. Many principals were very interested in our project and maybe new partnerships can be created in the near future.
We are very pleased that we can share our enthusiasm and our international experience with other schools of the global Jesuit family. We keep on working very hard to make our international partnership stronger and better. This unique project can be considered as an example of good practice for all Jesuit schools!
Coordinator of international cooperation, Antwerp, Belgium
Email contacts: Marc Tillemans, coordinator Antwerp , [email protected]
Walter Van Boxem, director Antwerp, [email protected]