Within the past two years 25 schools from four European countries have taken part in the EU project RETAIN. By using tools developed in the project, European schools have improved their working- and learning environment. Experiences and learning outcomes from the project have just been presented at a final conference in Brussels.
Since 2014, schools from the UK, Spain, Turkey, and Denmark have worked with topics such as motivation and inclusion for newly trained teachers. The South Denmark European Office has been part of the leading consortium in the Retain Project, and the Danish office in Brussels also hosted the final RETAIN Project conference on the 21rd of April 2016.
Henriette Hansen, EU-Consultant at the South Denmark European Office, has been project coordinator during the two years of the project.
“We have developed a toolbox in the project, which has been tested by schools in the five participating countries. The toolbox contains tools that can assist school principals in the work to create motivating, innovative, and inclusive work environments at local level. The final results show that the tools have made a major impact on the work environment in the participating pilot schools – despite that all participating countries have worked in different ways with the tools", says Henriette Hansen.
Common challenge, different approach
University College Southdenmark (UCS), a modern university of applied sciences from South Denmark, has also been one of the leading educational institutions in the Retain Project. Christian Quvang works as consultant at The National Knowledge Center for Inclusion and Exclusion, a part of UCS. He has been one of the participants from UCS in the project period and has developed the Inclusion Compass, which is one of the tools in the toolbox.
“There are many different approaches to the subject of RETAIN, which is to retain new teachers in the teaching profession, and one common point across Europe is that, going from teacher student to being a teacher is quite a transformative process. You have to get used to a new way of living, a new way of working”, says Christian Quvang, who also mentions the organization of newly trained teachers at the schools as an important point for school principals.
“What is the approach from the schools when they receive new teachers – do they for instance get a mentor? This is one of the key learnings from the RETAIN project, that school principals must be aware of; if they wish to create a motivational, innovative and inclusive workplace”, says Christian Quvang, who among other tools mentions the Inclusion Compass as one of the important tools, that have had an impact in Denmark.
Caroline Parsson works at Exwick Heighs Primary School in the UK, which has been a pilot school in the project. After the initial phase her school now adopted the tools from RETAIN in their daily work.
“I asked our staff to rate different subjects as job satisfaction, opportunity of development and work-life balance on a scale from zero to ten. We did that before introducing the tools from RETAIN, and then again while using them in our work. The ratings showed a significant improvement amongst our colleagues. Moreover, it has been extremely positive to watch the tools being used, not because I forced people to use them, but because it actually made sense in their everyday work”, says Caroline Parsson.
Read more about experiences and learning outcomes in the national presentations from the final seminar