An experiential presentation of institutional strategy, networking, utilisation plan and learning outcomes. And what do they mean in common VET practice? The experiences gained in the projects implemented by Krúdy Gyula Secondary Grammar School and Secondary Vocational School also shed light on that.
They have been involved in successful international partnerships for 20 years, and their achievements testify that it’s a school which is truly committed to vocational training and internationalisation. We asked Project Coordinator János Lászlóné Együd and Annamária Komáromi, Head of International Relations, about the achievements and impacts of their latest Erasmus+ project.
What mobilities are currently underway at the school?
We have implemented a student mobility project for 12 and staff mobility project for 4 in France, Slovakia and the UK. Our catering and restaurant manager students involved in initial vocational education and training worked at the external sites of the host partner, and attended practical classes once a week. The staff mobilities were the ‘job shadowing’ type, due to our need to broaden the school’s training offer, to the needs of dual vocational training for teaching specialised language and for specialised methodology, as well as to our inclusive education.
The school has an extensive network of partners now. How did you get this far?
We have been a member of AEHT (Association of European Hotel and Tourism Schools) since 1996. We regularly attend their events, which also allow us to establish new relationships with potential partners. Our French partner institution organises a conference and partner meeting called ‘European Round Table’ every 3 or 4 years, where we can meet their European partner institutions. Note that these relationships need to be taken care of constantly, and all of them are based on mutuality: we don’t only send our staff and students to our partners for mobility programmes, but also receive theirs.
What do you do for your colleagues' commitment and professional development?
We keep our teaching staff up-to-date on the progress of the project, from the very first steps to closing the projects. The members of the international relations team cooperate with professional work teams. We develop customised work programmes for our staff involved in mobility, in cooperation with those concerned and according to their own needs, so they can really identify with the mobility programme. Before submitting the project, we conduct needs assessment to find out who the colleagues who would gladly join the mobility programme are and what they would like to learn abroad. When they come home, they prepare an utilisation plan, in which they share their experiences with their close and wider environment, and explain to their colleagues the good practices which they find worth adapting. This project, for example, involved a colleague who teaches specialist language, and she brought exam exercises and specialised vocabulary from France, thus filling a niche.
You work in close cooperation with the local businesses, too, who don't reject employees with foreign experience. How do you influence and motivate them?
We wouldn’t even be able to receive foreign students and teachers without local businesses. The two keywords are personalness and mutuality. The personal presence and contact, and the sense that the foreign relations of the school are also beneficial to workplaces, are crucial. Our French partners, for example, regularly invite those businesses to their above-mentioned programme ‘European Round Table’ which receive French students, and which, along with our school, proudly represent Hungary, Csongrád County and the town of Szeged at this event. Our partners regularly visit these businesses in Szeged when they are in Hungary, thus strengthening the relationship between the foreign partners, the Hungarian businesses and our school. For example, for a long time, a bakery in Szeged baked bread by a French recipe given to them by a French teacher colleague during his mobility here. Our school invites the representatives of the businesses to each dissemination event, and when the foreign students are here, we discuss the students' progress, work programme and leisure activities weekly.
A strength of the project was the experiential presentation of learning outcomes. Does it present any difficulty to think in terms of learning outcomes and to specify them? What would you suggest to those who have never done it before?
It’s definitely not easy to think in terms of learning outcomes. As an educational institution, we mainly consider the exam outcomes, which in Hungary are very strict, concrete, and you can’t really digress from them at an exam. We try to put some knowledge elements into the work programme of the Erasmus+ projects which are not part of the exam curriculum, but if we teach them to our students, their professional portfolio will reflect them, thus improving their chances in the labour market in the future.
You very carefully examined the impacts of the project – why is that so important?
The analysis of the impacts determines the direction we should take in the future, and it can influence our future strategy. Although there are some instant effects, the project's real impact is delayed – it may take months or even years until the impact of the project becomes tangible reality. The impact analysis also serves as feedback to those working on the project – it’s a kind of self-assessment. It's like throwing a stone into still water, when at first we only see small waves, and then the waves spread on and on in circles. An individual’s mobility affects his or her direct environment, and then the impact becomes broader and broader.
Do you think the project may have an impact on any current social, educational or professional issue?
We hope that all our projects contribute to reducing unemployment among European youth, to raising the prestige of the trades and to transferring high-level professional knowledge to younger generations. We have now been invited to a brand new pilot programme, ‘Erasmus Pro’, by our French VET partner in Saint Michel Mont Mercure, Vendée County, as the only Hungarian secondary school. 33 VET schools from 12 European countries formed a consortium in order to involve their fresh graduates or soon-to-be graduates in 6 to 12-month-long, long-term mobility programmes. The students leave with customised training plans, elaborated for each trade, to attend theory, practice and foreign language classes under a dual training programme as the students of the host institution, and later on they also complete placement in external workplaces. We are very confident about the success of the project; its potentials may also open new opportunities for us.
Last modified: 16-10-2017