Since 2005, Schools which are learning organisations adapt more quickly than those which are static and unchanging, as a report of the Education and Training 2020 Working Group (1) notes , “The school as learning organisation engages all staff in meeting challenges and avoids over-reliance on conventional hierarchies to ensure ownership in their implementation.”
The learning school explores new approaches to improve learning for all learners, focusing on seven dimensions OECD (2016) (2) :
- Developing and sharing a vision centred on the learning of all students – a sense of direction and a motivating force for sustained action to achieve individual and school goals
- Creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all - investing in quality, career-long opportunities so that teachers can enhance their professional knowledge and learning alongside pupils
- Promoting collaborative learning amongst all staff - teachers work and learn together, face-to-face and/or inline, with peer networking playing an important role in enhancing professionalism
- Establishing a culture of inquiry, innovation and exploration – being inquisitive and using initiative and willingness to experiment with new ideas and practices
- Integrating systems for sharing knowledge and best practice – information-rich schools produce and analyse relevant data, using it for learning outcome evaluation and assessment for learning
- Learning with and from the external environment including the social, political and economic context - building partnerships with parents and local communities
- Modelling and expanding learning leadership – “lead learners” can create the conditions for others to do the same, school leaders can model and encourage professionalism.
For schools as learning organisations to be successful, this requires trust and shared commitment that supports a collaborative effort. Participation in eTwinning provides this opportunity, within a Europe-wide learning community that respects the diversity of opinions, encourages experimentation and celebrates success.
Examples of good practice from eTwinning schools:
During 2019-2020 the Central Support Service of eTwinning worked closely with six eTwinning schools as part of the monitoring and development of eTwinning schools.
In all schools, to some extent, we witnessed the elements described by the OECD as “learning schools” which explore new approaches to improve learning for all learners, focusing on realising the seven dimensions mentioned above.
In Col legi Sant Josep in Navàs, Spain, the school joined the “Escola Nova 21”, an alliance of schools and civil society institutions for an advanced education system, and adopted a school vision which has common elements with the eTwinning School Mission. The school’s vision and mission in Col·legi Sant Josep puts students’ learning in the centre and serves as a guiding tool for teachers and a reference point for parents.
Looking at the second element of schools as learning organisations, continuous professional development and learning of school staff is an integral part of teachers’ activities in Direzione Didatica Ottavo Circolo, an eTwinning School in Piacenza, Italy. In 2019, the two deputy headteachers from the primary and the pre-primary schools organised tailored professional development trainings to encourage participation amongst their colleagues and enhance their expertise. Practical training was organised in school, based on two eTwinning projects they had developed.
In Col·legi Sant Josep, Promoting team learning and collaboration among all staff takes place in collaborative interdisciplinary projects. In 2019- 2020 school year, almost all classes were involved in an interdisciplinary eTwinning project, where each class participated in short activities throughout the year. This enabled teachers to work closely and interdependently, sharing knowledge and skills.
In the Experimental School of the University of Thessaloniki, students and teachers are encouraged to take an active role. The school sets a culture of inquiry, innovation and exploration through a variety of curricular and extracurricular activities. Students are involved in the decision-making process by organising an online training for their parents. Students prepared and ran a series of online courses (8 lessons) in Moodle about the use of ICT, GDPR and e-safety with the aim to combat the digital exclusion of adults. Through such activities, students not only take a leading part in their learning, but they are also active players in the school innovation process.
In Dr. İlhami Tankut Anadolu Lisesi, an eTwinning school in Antalya, Turkey, school staff encourage students to take an active role in the decision making process in the school through student councils which work together with the bar association of the city. The school learns with and from external environments and is integrated in the local community. In the same manner, Lycée des métiers Louis Blériot, an upper- secondary Vocational eTwinning School in Trappes, France, works with students from vulnerable backgrounds and special educational needs. The school organises exhibitions and students present their work in various events including Erasmus+ Days, European or the Erasmus+ Charter. In those meetings and events, the school acts as a learning hub not only for pupils but also for their parents and the wider community.
Scoala Gimnaziala nr.17, Botosani, Romania is a model for other schools, providing teachers and school staff with an opportunity to become leaders. In this sense, the school actively models and grows learning leadership, through informal and formal trainings with the support of the School Inspectorate. Teachers share their practices, answer questions, take calls to help other colleagues in different schools, organise 1:1 sessions and provide examples from their own experience. They organise online events in eTwinning as well to showcase their work and share challenges and solutions.
Lastly, all six schools have been involved in creating a school development action plan. The plan included the collection and exchange of knowledge within each school and between schools.
1. European Commission (2018), Teachers and school leaders in schools as learning organisations: Guiding principles for policy development in school education. https://www.schooleducationgateway.eu/downloads/Governance/2018-wgs4-learning-organisations_en.pdf
2. OECD (2016), What makes a school a learning organisation? A guide for policy makers, school leaders and teachers. https://www.oecd.org/education/school/school-learning-organisation.pdf