The Hansági Ferenc Vocational School of the Vocational Training Centre of Szeged has offered opportunities of gaining experience abroad to its cook, waiter and pastry cook students for years. Due to their excellent programmes, as well as to the conscious and long-term planning of their projects, they have been recognised with a number of awards. They make use of the experiences gained throughout the years and continuously expand their application tool set, which won them the Erasmus+ Quality Award this year. We talked to Project Coordinator Klára Jancsikinné Smicskó Klára.
New Recipes and Quality Assurance Documents
Institution: Hansági Ferenc Vocational School of the Vocational Training Centre of Szeged
Project title: Catering Knowledge Import
Coordinator: Klára Jancsikinné Smicskó
It’s not the first recognition you have gained for your successful project implementation…
Indeed, in 2004 we received an E-Quality award for the implementation of a Socrates/Comenius linguistic project in Germany, a Mobility Quality Award in 2005 for a three-month-long Leonardo de Vinci assistant manager mobility, also in Germany, and then in 2014, we were recognised for our Catering Knowledge Import project with a ‘For International Cooperation Culture Quality Award’. In 2009, we received a Leonardo mobility certificate, and then in 2016 we were granted the certificate again to implement Erasmus+ projects.
What benefits can a mobility project bring?
The outcomes of mobility projects can be very diverse. We mostly expect the foreign placement to improve our students' professional and linguistic skills. Most of our students report the added value of increased independence and self-esteem, due to the programme. The improvement of professional skills is confirmed by the high standards of work logs, the experiences of our specialist teachers in the classroom, as well as the meaningful presentations at dissemination events, where our students even offer participants samples of dishes made based on recipes brought from abroad. We usually organise one-month-long programmes, and in the case of language skills, it’s mostly the listening skills and the vocabulary which can improve. Due to the mobilites, our teaching resources are constantly increasing and we are developing the school’s website by creating a Recipe Bank which stores the recipes brought from abroad.
We consider creating our quality assurance documents an essential achievement, as they are necessary for the smooth and proper implementation of our projects, the process control of measuring and assessment, as well as the recognition of foreign placement in the obligatory domestic placement.
What do you regard as a “basic” project outcome and what is “superior”? That is, where did you start and how far have you got by now?
We started our projects with one single German partner in 2000. Under the Leonardo programme, two of our cook students participated in a three-week-long placement in Munich. A teacher exchange programme was also part of the project, and as the project outcome of the partnership, educational multimedia resource materials were produced. Since then, we have expanded our partnership: we have teamed up with schools and business organisations from England, Sweden, Finland, Romania, Malta, Spain, France, Germany and Austria to implement vocational school, Leonardo and then Erasmus+ programmes. We have also broadened the scope of vocations; taking into account our students’ needs, besides our cook and waiter students, we also sought opportunities for pastry cook students. In order to ensure the high standards of our programmes, we rely on ECVET tools such as the Competency Matrix, and we have developed learning outcomes for cook, waiter and pastry cook students, so the competencies to be acquired have become clear to all concerned. To be able to measure linguistic development and outcomes, we rely on the services of the OLS system.
Considering the effects of successful mobilities in a narrower and broader sense (e.g. from within school up to education policy), which ones would you highlight?
As regards our students, the most important effect is the improvement of key competencies, especially social, professional and foreign language competencies. The experiences gained through staff mobility affect the entire organisation, but they also affect parents, external training locations and each less closely related partner (e.g. primary schools, professional and non-governmental organisations), so we can definitely talk about a social impact, too. We are also proud of the mobilities provided to our staff in Malta, Romania, Spain and Germany, constituting elements of internationalisation, as they offered them opportunities to learn about new teaching methods and tools, as well as to take over and adapt best practices in our school, such as the implementation of project-based teaching both at the vocational secondary grammar school and the vocational secondary school.
A key area of the Europe 2020 strategy is the vocational education and training of youth and adults. The use of ECVET tools made the competencies transferable and mutually recognisable. Through their transparency and comparability, the different VET systems have come closer to each other.
What do you do for the sustainability of your project outcomes and effects?
The granting of the certificates made our project work continuous, secure and well-balanced. We keep regular contact with our partners, in many cases also reinforced by mutuality. We draw the lessons from the project reports, and share our experiences with other institutions engaged in similar activities, and thus we can learn about and adapt others’ best practices. Such a forum was, for example, the Mentor Network programme, implemented by the University of Szeged, in the work of which 15 out of about 700 public educational institutions of the Southern Great Plain region were involved, including our school. At the Career Trade, held yearly, our students give detailed reports of the foreign placements to children and parents interested. Within the ‘Night of Trades’ programme, we share our foreign experiences with primary school students who join our school, their attendants and young adults interested in new opportunities.
What has been your greatest achievement since the beginnings?
It’s very important for us that our students can have a look beyond the borders of Hungary and gain professional experience abroad, too, which increases their value at the labour market. During our projects since 2000, altogether 545 of our students have travelled abroad, which means 10% of our students are given this opportunity every year. However, the greatest achievement of our projects is the constantly growing popularity of our school, which is also confirmed by the enrolment figures.
Blanka Berkes, Tempus Public Foundation, Erasmus+ Mobility team
The project has reinforced the school's international dimensions. The school management manages the institution according to a modern strategy, which is also confirmed by the fact that the goals of the project were mostly adapted to the needs of the domestic businesses. The students who were involved in foreign placement have now better chances of finding employment. Highly skilled young people with European experience and foreign language skills have a positive impact on the businesses in the region, as well as on the industry. The project outcomes are sustainable and can be adapted to educational institutions and businesses engaged in similar activities.
Last modified: 16-04-2019