English News

Contest of Photography “Sustainable City”

In January 2021, Portugal returned to a general lockdown, as it did in March of last year. Schools have closed once again and the whole school community is preparing to return to online classes.
As one might expect, this is not the ideal situation for the students’ learning progress, but everyone is doing their best to ensure that the school activities continue the best way possible. Let’s take a look at the associated partner of the National Network ENNE Portugal: Agrupamento de Escolas de Fafe

In the scope of the Erasmus+ programme, the Forest Club of this school is promoting a contest of photography, with the theme of “Sustainable City”. This contest has as main objectives: 

  • Raise awareness in the school community of the importance of achieving sustainability through safe and affordable urban spaces using renewable energies;
  • Associate the cities of the future to the new mobilities and “green” corridors.
  • Use photography as a global communication tool about the environment in an exhibition to be held at Escola Secundária de Fafe. 

The contest will run until 15th February 2021 ant it is open to all of the students of the school.

Good luck to all participants!

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English News


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English News

The first “Young Technician” inter-school competition

In strict compliance with all COVID-19 anti-epidemic measures, the “V.P. Minchev” Vocational High School of Transport, Vladimirovo organised the first “Young Technicianinter-school competition for students from schools on the territory of Montana Region in majors related to agricultural mechanization. Two teams from the Plant Production major from the “V V.P. Minchev” Vocational High School of Transport, Vladimirovo and “Marko Markov” Vocational High School of Agriculture, Georgi Damyanovo took part in the competition.

The event was held on 23 October 2020 in the school complex of “V.P. Minchev” Vocational High School of Transport, and the hosts had prepared many surprises for their guests throughout the day. The competition consisted of two parts: theoretical and practical.

The theoretical part was conducted in the newly commissioned theoretical lab, where the teams compared their theoretical knowledge. The practical part consisted of three stages: chain tractor operation, execution of specific elements with a narrow-track wheeled tractor, and ploughing. This part of the competition was held on the school’s learning lot. A competent jury of teachers – representatives of the schools, evaluated the teams’ performance. After the competition’s completion, the award ceremony was hold in the school’s canteen. The winning team was the one from “V.P. Minchev Vocational High School of Transport”, and the winners in the individual tasks were the students from Marko Markov Vocational High School of Agriculture, Georgi Damyanov.

The awards were provided by the Director of .P. Minchev Vocational High School of Transport, Ms. Tsanka Karcheva, and the Deputy Regional Governor, Ms. Desislava Dimitrova. The competition day ended with an exhibition of the rich vegetable crop from the high school in Vladimirovo. In the pumpkin week at the school, students and teachers had prepared delicious pumpkin dishes that the contestants and guests enjoyed.

English News

Focus groups in Bulgaria

As part of the project, WP2 “Establishment of the Excellence National Networks” the ENNE project consortium conducted 5 focus groups in each partner country in order to guarantee a real exchange between VET organisations who have a solid experience in the implementation of VET European programmes and VET organisation who have poor or no experience. Moreover, this activity aimed to identify best practices in the field of VET and to recruit new members to the network.

In Bulgaria, the analysis was conducted in the beginning of July 2020 and more than 30 participants took part in the research – some of them joined the certain online focus groups and others shared their opinion through an online questionnaire. ECQ team managed to organize a total 5 focus groups with representatives of VET schools in different business sectors.  During the online discussions, all of the participants expressed their belief in the effectiveness and functionality of VET service. As main strength is seen the opportunity for the students to develop skills, needed in the real work environment. Furthermore, the VET facilitates the effective transition from education to employment, encourages the good professional realization and stimulates the development of communication skills and teamwork competences. It was really engaging to observe how the VET representatives shared positive experience of successfully implemented mobility projects and exchanged ideas. Not all of the participants in the focus group had experience in mobility projects so it was beneficial to get informed about some good practices. Some barriers of the enhancement of VET service were also mentioned – the members in the focus groups pointed out the unsatisfactory actions of the business organizations. According to the participants, the companies should participate in the admission and training process of students and should also involve them in the working process. In this way the young professionals will acquire a better overview of their future job tasks. The unattractive image of VET in Bulgaria was pointed out as another main challenge.

At the end of the discussions the participants were asked to share some ideas for improving the quality of VET service. The following proposals were mentioned: development of clear mechanisms and state policy measures; determining the number of students in certain disciplines; determining different levels of professional qualification depending on the level of the students.

English News

The MOOC, opportunities and participants

The MOOC on “VET Mobility Management” started on 16 th November and it was very well received by the Portuguese teachers and staff involved in European projects.
This online course had the goal of guiding the participants through the entire process of a project of international mobility. It was structured in units with short texts, videos and interactive activities that allowed the participants to acquire and develop knowledge and also to start to build a project idea. Additionally, the participants of this MOOC were able to exchange ideas, views and experiences on questions from the application process of a mobility project to its implementation and evaluation.
The Portuguese participants were very interested in the MOOC contents and were very open in sharing their questions and experiences. Some of the participants mentioned their inexperience with the Erasmus+ programme, and the MOOC was their first contact with the available information on VET European mobility, grants, applications and project implementation.
Many participants made very clear what an Erasmus experience can bring to the school, students and teachers/staff. For instance, a teacher shared that “I believe that European mobility is already beginning to be part of our daily lives, conquering education and allowing a greater connection among Portuguese and European teachers. Through European mobility, teachers benefit immediately from the exchanges and progress of scientific and technological knowledge. In this sense, the benefits are many and our students are winners from this sharing of experiences, responding more effectively to their needs and contributing to a positive change in society.” Another comment from another teacher mentioned that “My connection to European programs started with Erasmus (mobility between universities in 2002), to which I created an emotional bond. I saw, in first hand, the great benefits that this type of programme can bring to its participants.
The participation in such experience is an indelible milestone in my life. In retrospect, I can recognize a profound personal and professional impact that this initiative has had on me. This growth and transformation gave me the tools to build a more diverse personal and professional path, more competent, more autonomous, more culturally aware and with a worldview that would not have been possible otherwise.”
It was also mentioned the importance of these experiences for students with fewer opportunities. One teacher from the north of Portugal says: “The region of Felgueiras, where I teach, is a region characterized by work in the footwear industry and also in agriculture, especially with the production of wine and kiwi. Most our VET students come from families where the economic resources available are essential for their survival, so they do not have the opportunity to travel or access culture. By participating in European projects, the students can have access to other cultures, customs, languages and working methods. The knowledge and skills acquired are an important part for their development as people and professionals. By becoming more autonomous, they bring added value to their communities, since they become more entrepreneurial workers, confident in their performance.”
It is clear that schools with experience in implementing mobility projects are very aware of the benefits of these experiences and the magnitude of its impact on the personal and professional lives of all of those involved. It is a general feeling that it is very important to integrate, develop and implement such programmes so that this part of the educational system, often forgotten, neglected and even stigmatised, can have access to these opportunities.

English News

Technical and Professional education in Belgium

We interview Emma Teirlynck, teacher at GO! Horticultural school in Melle. She studied biotechnology and obtained her PhD in veterinary science. She is one of the Belgian ambassadors for the European Vocational Skills Week.
Has it always been your ambition to teach?
No, not really. Shortly after my studies I started teacher training, but I stopped because I thought education was not for me. Later in my career I realised how important teachers are in the lives of students. That’s why I applied to the horticultural school where I’ve been teaching for two years now. 
What projects have you developed in the meantime?
Together with several colleagues I started the aquaponics project and we are now working on it even further. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture, the cultivation of fish, and hydroponics, the cultivation of plants on water. With aquaponics you grow fish. The plants use the feces of the fish as nutrients and thus filter the water in which the fish live. In this way you create a circular system in which you only feed the fish. All the rest can be reused. In addition to achieving the technical curriculum objectives, we want to demonstrate with this project that the various departments and disciplines need each other. 
We have already set up courses for the students and are working on a workbook with photos. The intention is to start up a system every year. In this way, the students can go through the entire process of making analyses and drawing conclusions.
You have been chosen as ambassador for our country for the European Vocational Skills Week. What did this mean for you?
I found it surprising because I haven’t been in education that long, but it was quite an honour. It is nice to get recognition for your work, also for the students. This ambassadorship confirms that the work we do is appreciated. 
What have you picked up yourself during this week?
I found that a lot of people are working on Vocational Skills. As a teacher, you are relatively alone in these kinds of projects. You have a team within the school, but otherwise you are on your own. It’s nice to see that there is a lot going on in Europe in the field of vocational skills. We can learn a lot from each other.
To conclude: what would you like to see for your students in 10 years’ time?
Contact education remains necessary. The Corona crisis has shown that teachers, but especially students, need contact education. 
Hopefully there will be more room for innovation and we will be able to offer subjects that are more focused on professional practice.
I hope that technical, general and professional education can stand side by side. That we no longer see this as a waterfall system in which one is worth more than the other, but that we value every link in the chain.
English News

Inspiring and learning from each other: A summary of participants’ contributions from the MOOC

Which questions, suggestions and examples do the participants bring to the MOOC? What challenges do they see in mobility projects and what kind of solutions? The German and English MOOC are supervised by accredited mobility consultant Sabine Röhrig-Mahhou (Wisamar educational institute). Here she summarizes her experiences and impressions.

Tips for the application

Some participants have already gained experience with the accreditation process under the new Erasmus+ program. According to their feedback, the effort for an application for accreditation is quite high, especially since internal arrangements and preparations in the applying institution are unavoidable in order to be able to incorporate all required information and detailed planning. Specifically, one participant advises that the first project outline (“My project idea”) “can be a personal and individual collection of ideas or also the result of an Erasmus team meeting of several teachers involved”. Another participant advises not to exaggerate regarding the plans in the application: “Remember that everything you describe in your application you will have to fulfil and carry out all the promised activities. Be realistic in your plans and keep the focus on your needs.” I also find the tip to share and consult with other institutions very helpful: “I then brought in an experienced external partner as a sparring partner while writing the application.” 


Finding project partners

Finding the right European partners is an essential factor for the successful implementation of a project – and a real challenge. One participant reports that in his experience the search for partners takes a lot of time. “Often you don’t even get a response to inquiries. Even if you have clarified all the important points with a partner you have found in advance, it is not guaranteed that the organisation will then work out.” Another participant refers here to eTwinnings: „The protected platform enables registered teachers to post a contact request or to view the contact requests of other colleagues. A similar, non-protected contact exchange is provided by the europe direct information centers in Germany.“ 

Small panorama: Participants promote their region

Sometimes when looking for a partner, it is also worth looking at regions that may not be the most obvious at first glance. In the MOOC, participants are invited to change their perspective a little. They are asked what makes their region interesting for a mobility project and which industries can be found there. Did you know, for example, that Guimarães is called the “birthplace of Portuguese nationality”, is a World Heritage Site and at the same time is located in one of the most industrialized regions of the country, the Ave Valley? That – to stay in Portugal – there is not only a lot of tourism in the Algarve, but also numerous multimedia and IT companies? It’s a similar story in Burgas, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, where a vocational school for this sector was created specifically to counteract the shortage of skilled workers. Did you know that in the “green heart of Italy”, in Umbria, the clothing industry is very strong, especially with cashmere products? Or that the “Alte Land”, a region in Germany, is home to the largest fruit production in Northern Europe? These are just a few examples – in chapter 4.1 of our MOOC you will find more exciting and perhaps inspiring descriptions of European regions. Of course, you are welcome to add a contribution yourself.


Keyword “Blended Mobility“

Digitisation in education is advancing and does not stop at mobilities, especially in times when travelling is not so easy. “Blended mobility is a nice buzzword. But what should it look like?” asks one participant. “Already today, many conversations in the application process or before arrival are held between participants and the host institution via Skype / WhatsApp …. I would be interested to know how blended mobility is implemented in other institutions.” Here I can contribute our own experience: To prepare for a stay abroad, we still organise two face-to-face meetings, which are difficult to replace, especially for ECVET mobility. We are currently trying to offer further content online, e.g. for cultural preparation. We also see potential in the Monitoring-App from the IntoQuality project

What skills should apprentices already have?

Whether online or offline – trainees who want to participate in mobility should meet certain requirements. What are the most important competencies needed? The participants’ answers to this question in the MOOC are short and to the point, but they are all primarily aimed at “soft skills“, not professional knowledge: Motivation, willingness to adapt, social, linguistic and digital skills, willingness to learn, interest, willpower … are mentioned, for example. One participant points out that the criterion of social competences is subject to very different opinions. For example, learners “with good to very good social behavior would be sent to foreign partners with a clear conscience, while the learners with weaker ratings would rather not be selected out of concern for difficulties, embarrassment and the school’s image.” On the other hand, however, positive changes in social behavior could be sought through different environment, through the new school and living circumstances during a stay abroad.


Experience with methods regarding the evaluation and assessment of learning outcomes

The participants are also asked in the MOOC about their experiences and best practices with regard to the collection and assessment of learning outcomes of trainees during a stay abroad. Here it is confirmed that a combination of different methods is very suitable: learning or reflection diaries are mentioned several times, which help learners to record, structure and reflect on their experiences and experiences. The Europass Mobility is also highly valued as a concrete tool for validation. The personal conversations and the exchange with the trainees in group discussions are also important to the participants. Here, “each of the trainees should have the right to speak and describe their experiences. This way I listen to the opinions of the trainees. This method can be combined with interviews to get a more comprehensive insight.” 

It is still possible to join the ENNE MOOC and the course will also be maintained in the near future.
Simply register here: