Parental engagement training for Erasmus+ mobility coordinators in Milan

Parents International was invited for the first, but it seems not the last time to an annual training held by LFEE Europe and InterActing Developing International Projects for Schools (DIPS). The training primarily focuses on Erasmus+ mobility projects, but small-scale Erasmus+ partnerships and other funding options have also been touched upon.

DIPS programmes aim to equip teachers, school leaders and coordinators of international projects at schools in various European countries with the essential tools to set-up their schools’ international strategy and boost the international dimension of their school activities, whilst ensuring these activities are sustainable. The courses provide participants with opportunities to enlarge their professional network, share good practice with colleagues and learn how to manage and implement lasting European projects.

This year’s training was held in the last week of September in Milan, Italy, and we had the opportunity to train both the group with a lot of experiences and the one with participants who were (relative) newcomers to international project work. Participants came from various EU Member States and a wide variety of education institutions from the general, academic and vocational fields.

In the parental engagement sessions we had some interesting discussuions on engaging parents in exchange programmes, and participants were happy to share their challenges, concerns as well as good and bad experiences. The most interesting outcome of most of discussions like this is that people coming from various cultural backgrounds and school systems realise they face very similar situations.

However, in the newcomer group discussion relatively soon turned to the engagement of Muslim mothers and many participants were from French public schools where all external symbols related to religion, including wear that is compulsory for believers is banned. Apart from an interesting conversation on the conflict between the regulations that are supposed to ensure the separation of State and (Catholic) Church originating in Napoleonic times and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ensuring freedom of religion, it was also an intercultural learning opportunity for others. Spanish participants were shocked to realise that they cannot organise exchange programmes to France due to this as some of their students would not be allowed to enter a French state school.

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