The educational system was among the most affected by the pandemic. The confinements and distance learning have brought consequences to the learning and well-being of the students. With the aim of recovering and making sure that no one is “left behind”, the Portuguese government approved a “set of measures that are based on educational policies with proven effectiveness in terms of strengthening the autonomy of schools and differentiated educational strategies aimed at promoting school success and, above all, fighting inequalities through education.”
The ”Plano 21|23 Escola+” establishes a set of goals for the next two school years:
- Recovery of the most affected skills;
- Diversification of teaching strategies;
- Investment in social and emotional well-being;
- Trust in the educational system;
- Involvement of the entire educational community;
- Capacity building, through the reinforcement of resources and means;
- Monitoring, by evaluating the impact and efficiency of the measures.
The plan is structured in three axes and foresees the implementation of a set of measures to intervene with students in terms of learning recovery, socialization, and their physical and mental well-being, focusing on curricular aspects, school organization, resources of support and community dimensions. The three axes can be described as:
- Teaching and learning – measures for the schools to have the pedagogical means for a more flexible curricular development, focusing on supporting students, especially those who have been most affected by the pandemic;
- Support the educational communities – Empowering schools with resources and means for the development of measures to strengthen their capacity of response, in an action directed towards improving learning, to inclusion and to community involvement;
- To know and assess – development of indicators and tools to monitor the Plan, promoting the dissemination of efficiency studies, the sharing of practices and the re-evaluation of the measures adopted.
The specific intervention of the plan in the vocational education and training falls under axis 2) Support the educational communities. The plan refers that “vocational education and training has proven to be one of the main instruments for the inclusion of all students. It is probably one of the most fruitful ways for the cooperation between education and economic development.” Thus, it announces that in addition to all of the measures that will be applied to the educational system, VET will have Centres of Technological Specialization for the modernization of Professional Education, in areas of high technological intensity and with potential to induce with potential to induce a high value-added economy; and the provision of resources to improve the students’ vocational orientation processes of the students.
With this, we know that the start of this school year will bring some news to the schools but also hope that it will be possible to return to school in a safe and normal way. The vaccination of young people in Portugal is proceeding at a good pace, which will simplify the access to many activities. The focus now is to recover what has somehow been lost, choose the best teaching/learning strategies and take care of the well-being of every student.