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Month: June 2022

Celebrating the success of ParENTrepreneurs

The ParENTrepreneurs project officially ended on 30 April 2022 and we have submitted the final report at the end of June. A project ending means that most development activities are done, although in ParENTrepreneurs we will keep enriching the Social Learning Platform. At the same time, you can become a certified ParENTrepreneur anytime, if you do the training in English, Finnish, French, Italian or Spanish. The training material is already being used to train more parents as well as teachers in entrepreneurial education. This has been a highly successful project amidst the challenges of restrictions, lockdowns, uncertainties and a lot of fear that makes the achievement even more a reason to celebrate.

ParENTrepreneurs in short:

The ParENTrepreneurs partnership has developed 5 Intellectual outputs with the active collaboration and contribution of all partners:

  • IO1 Competence Framework for parentrepreneurs which includes an assessment of the needs and the identification of the skills to be developed to enhance the capacity of the main target group. It is based onand is aligned to the reference of EntreComp Framework;
  • IO2 Training package for parentrepreneurs including 6 modules clearly linked to the Competence Framework.
  • IO3 Social Learning Platform an open source e-learning and networking platform. It contains the self-paced learning, assessment modules that lead to certification as well as resources for further self-development ideas/tools for everyday parenting practice.
  • IO4 Parents To Parents manual that provides complementary information to the IO2 course to allow parents trained to train other parents (as well as other trainers) to successfully organise their own trainingsand activate the peer-to-peer scheme.
  • IO5 Guide to validation and recognition of the program. The Guide contains information on the assessment process developed for training participants. targetting employers and policy makers.
    All IOs were produced in English orginial and translated to Finnish, French, Italian and Spanish. Some IOs have also been translated to Dutch as an extra.

In order to develop these intellectual outputs, we held 3 in-person transnational meetings (in Matera, Amsterdam and Helsinki) as well as an online one. The partnership regularly met for monthly coordination calls in betweenmeetings.
During the development of IO1, the partners engaged key stakeholders including entrepreneurship educators, parent leaders and researchers in the validation of the framework developed.
For the testing and refining of the training framework, pilot trainings were carried out in a syncronous online format in Finland, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and in-person in the Netherlands, Belgium,Spain and Hungary (the two last ones were extra).
In an international train-the-trainers event, future ParENTrepreneurs trainers were trained in Amsterdam.
All partners organised multiplier events to engage those who will potentially implement the project outcomes after the project’s lifetime.
All partners were very active in creating content for dissemination and disseminating the project.
Rigorous monitoring processes were implemented throughout the project to ensure quality.

The consultation on IO1 engaged over 100 experts from 18 countries. Professional educators, parents and parent leaders, policy makers, (education) project managers, and researchers engaged in theconsultation. An online survey collected quantitative and qualitative data on the draft framework. It was aimed at helping to develop a tool that is both scientifically sound as well as user-friendly. The survey sought to ensure that the presentation of the comprehensive parENTrepreneurs framework remains accessible to parents and parent leaders as well as other audiences and sense-check the entrepreneurialcompetences at different age levels.
151 participants were engaged in the pilot trainings at national level. In the in-person trainings, the children of participants were also engaged via organised activities held paralel to the trainings so that theparents did not have child caring obligations during the sessions.
20 people participated at the international training (2 participants could only join for 60% of the training, and one guest speaker joined for some of the training session, too). About half of the participant werepreviously trained online by partners.
140 people participated at the Multiplier events.

Conference on Erasmus+ Mobilities and Trainings

The German National Erasmus+ Agency invited us to attend the “High quality in school education mobility projects – a dialogue between coordinators of accredited mobility consortia, course providers and national agencies” Conference held in Cologne on 13-14 June 2022. The event was attended by about 60 people from various European countries from Iceland to Spain, from Ireland to Hungary. Parents International was invited for two reasons: to join the dialogue as a course provider, and to highlight the importance of engaging parents in education and Erasmus+ activities. The latter took the form of a workshop that we delivered with our collaboration partner, the European School Heads Association. The event also brought the possibility of new partnership and especially the potential to provide more trainings to education professionals, especially teachers and school leaders.

The event started with half a day of informal discussions in three groups: course providers (that we attended), representatives of school consortia participating at mobility activities, and national agencies. The event, and also our informal discussion group, was attended by representatives of the European Commission responsible for mobility programmes.

In the plenary session of the first day, the most interesting presentation was that of the new European School Education Platform that we are an official supporter of. There was another very relevant and very interactive plenary presentation on the challenges of quality in mobility programmes, especially trainings.

Our joint workshop with ESHA’s Director Petra van Haren was entitled Collaborative school leadership and the role of parent engagement in projects. After a first round of discussion and participants’ sharing their experiences, both organisations made a brief presentation that was further discussed in the workshop. Discussions were so much engaging that they continued into coffee break and the next session. Apart from our usual arguments for parental engagement, we have raised and discussed the issue of the often discontinued offer of trainings developed in Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships, and we also provided our own practice of offering such trainings as an inspiration.

Is there a “migrant challenge” in education?

Child Up Final Conference in Brussels 9-10 June 2022 – what we had to say as a member of their International Stakeholder Committee

The Child Up project was dealing with child agency and especially the agency and recognition of agency in the case of migrant children. It is a crucial element of their inclusion. We were invited to contribute on practice related to this topic. The input from our Director, Eszter Salamon was highlighting on some aspects we rarely consider, and also on how engaging parents can support child agency.

When it comes to adults understanding that children have agency and supporting its development, it is worth having a historic look at how much adults have trusted children that they are capable of doing things. Jesper Juul, the renown and recently deceased family therapist from Denmark raises this issue in his last book, Leitwölfe Sein (Be the leader of a pack of wolves) that has not yet been published in English. In the book, he calls parents to behave like the leader of a pack of wolves normally behave: set directions, allow all members to fight for their status, but support the weaker ones. However, he also mentions that the later – the key to child agency – is a moving target, the view of parents on this has been changing over time. The child rights movement has tried to make all adults understand that children are rights holders and have agency on their own right. Juul makes a link between this and the women’s rights movement. In 2022, it is difficult to believe that even a few decades ago women were not allowed to open their own bank account without their father or husband signing it off in some European countries, and we still don’t see the full emancipation of women. And the suffragettes had chained themselves to tailings about a century ago. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is only a little over 30 years ago, and children – especially younger children – are unlikely to start a juvenile suffragettes-like movement. So it is up to the adults in their lives, especially their parents, to fight for the recognition of their agency. Hopefully, in the case of children it will not take more than a hundred years, but in this area again we are very far from being there.

At the same time, American parenting approaches are becoming popular in Europe. The USA, being the only country in the World that has not and most probably will not ratify the UNCRC, does not believe in child agency. Parents can even be punished for what the Americans call free range parenting, parenting that believes in child agency. These ideas have first entered Europe at about the same time as the child rights movement started. As a result, there is already a younger adult generation, becoming parents or already young parents these days, who were not as free as children 40-50 years ago where. It seems that the generation of European parents who were born during or shortly after the WWII still understood that children are capable of a lot of things and can be trusted.

When families arrive from outside of Europe, their children often have experiences with the recognition of and support for their agency. They are often trusted much more than their European-born counterparts. So, why is it different at school? Why a whole large-scale project was built on supporting the agency of these children at school?

We believe that it is not a migrant issue, but rather an amalgam of different elements that are more prevalent in certain migrant children – not one-by-one, but present at the same time: social disadvantage, linguistic register, age and considering the multiple inclusion needs of the child. We say certain, because the whole picture changes if you don’t only focus on children who are third country national, but also on EU migrants. Why do we face different challenges in education when we look at for example Italian or Polish migrant children in the Netherland than when it is Syrian or – to stay within Europe – Ukrainian migrants.

There is a good reason why nearly all programmes that are designed to support the inclusion of Roma children in Eastern Europe work brilliantly for “migrant children”, more precisely for children who come from similarly difficult backgrounds, from challenging socio-economical situations, often have parents who have low education levels and fear from the “authority” school may have over them.

We have also experienced that the case is also similar when it comes to language. Teachers – while totally capable of adjusting their linguistic register to children – struggle with communicating with parents of these children. The reason is more often the linguistic register than the total lack of language skills. Again, what works in Roma inclusion, can also work in the case of migrant parents. Often, there is also a lack of related cultural knowledge on the teachers’ side, this is why our Parent’R’Us programme has been so successful – parents belonging to these groups, be it Roma or migrants – building the capacity of both their peers and that of teachers.

Linguistic register is a crucial question in designing classroom activities. A very important finding of research that our colleague, Luca László has emphasised often, shows that tackling children as “migrants” may mislead you in analysing learning outcomes as it easily leads to mixing up lower learning outcomes as a result of a child struggling with the vocabulary of Mathematics with having lower skills levels in Mathematics. A migrant child may already find it easy to communicate with their peers on everyday topics in the language of instruction, but may not have the vocabulary to express themselves in the language of certain subjects. Allowing children to work in the language they feel comfortable with leads to much better school results – and AI translation is already at a very high level, so teachers can easily understand what they are producing.

Very often migrant children are considered as one block, but just in the case of any other children, their agency is developing over time, thus the age of children is an important factor in considering their agency. In this, parents are again crucial as in the case of young children, especially with yet limited capacity, they are the ones who can facilitate agency. It starts really early. We know from research that even 2-year-olds are capable of establishing rules in their playgroup and also of keeping to these rules. This is a crucial moment as it is the age (sometime between 18 months and 2 years) when self-awareness is born.

One last element that is often neglected when a project or programme is tackling migrant children en bloc. Being migrant is just one factor in the needs of a child. If you don’t remember that a migrant child may also e.g. be physically disabled, dyslexic or especially talented in Mathematics, and you include them in a “migrant” programme, the needs of the child will not be met.

Thus it is crucial to have a holistic approach to child agency that is built on considering the multiple inclusion needs of each child, be them migrants coming from third countries or anybody else. What the Child Up project calls “hybrid integration” is a totally unnecessary discrimination of migrant children or just what we mean by inclusion. As inclusion is a term that we have been trying to make policy makers and practitioners understand and implement for a long time, and there are improvements, introducing a new, difficult-to-understand and mostly superfluous term may do more harm than good.