The safe school

Comenius newsletter

April 2004

Parents, teachers and other interested people,

In front of you lies the newsletter of the Comeniusproject “ the Safe School” We thought it would be a nice idea to keep you, as a parent or other interested person, informed about our Comeniusproject.

A project is always for three years and for at least 3 schools from 3 different countries.

In this project are on the moment three schools:

  1. Beatrixschool, Haarlem, Holland
  2. Kirkby Stephen Primary School, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England
  3. Direzione didattica Statale di san Casciano V.P., San Casciano, Tuscany, Italy.

Wat is in this newsletter?

I would very much like to hear your reactions to this newsletter. You can do this through your own school or directly via E-mail. You will find all E-mail addresses and websites of the schools at the end of this newsletter.

Ingrid Luntz-Slooten
Duo-headteacher Beatrixschool
Co-ordinator Comeniusproject (in English)

 How will the children benefit from the Comeniusproject? - top

Perhaps a lot of new parents ask: "What exactly is a Comenius project and how does my child benefit from it?" I will try to give you an answer.
A Comeniusproject is an international project for Primary and Secondary schools, which is subsidised by the European Committee. In a project there is one co-ordinating school and at least two participating schools. In our project the co-ordinating school is the Beatrixschool from the Netherlands. The thinking behind the Committee is that children from Europe should get acquainted with each other. There are still a lot of differences in the cultures of the countries in Europe. By allowing the children to become aware of that at a young age, we are able to promote more understanding and respect. This is very important for the future of Europe. Europe is getting smaller and borders are fading out.
By getting acquainted with each other's cultures there will be fewer prejudices and isn't that what we all want? Children have to look further than the stereotypes, which exist in all our countries. Thus the Netherlands is more then tulips, cheese and wooden shoes.
The Comenius project is extremely well suited for working towards a better understanding and to bring children closer to each other. This doesn't mean that children will actively exchange with other schools. (Secondary school people regret this very much). A minimum of 3 schools from different European countries work on a joint project, after which the results will be sent to each other. Children can compare them. The name of our project is “ the safe school”. It will be clear that safety is the issue.

In autumn children presented their schools to each other. In March children of different ages made a stock-taking which “ problems” on safety matters there are in and around the school.

By working intensively for three years children learn a lot from each other. That is a huge benefit for the children.

For teachers it means a lot more work, often done in their free time, but it also benefits us. For instance there is a wider view of education. By seeing how teaching works in other countries we are able to compare our education systems. It is very stimulating for teachers to see in each other's kitchen. Their own teaching receives a new impetus. New ideas will be picked up and used in their own class situation. This is also good for the children.
I hope you understand that we, with all the partner schools, will continue to work in this Comeniusproject with great enthusiasm.




How we came to this project - top

Please write here the history of internationalisation from your own school!! This is for all three schools so different that we leave it up to every school.

A short outline of the participating schools - top

The Beatrixschool
in Haarlem, Holland, is a school for children from 4 to 12 years. There are about 320 pupils, 12 groups and 20 (mostly part time) teachers.  We have special teachers for gymnastics, music and special needs. Besides that we have three class-assistants and a caretaker. This school year another new teacher to start working in our school.

The school is situated at the outskirts of Haarlem near the dunes. The school benefits from this unique situation by excursions not only to the city (museums, theatre) but also to the dunes and the beach.

As a front school for ICT we have for the past  couple of years had a network with over 60 computers. All the pupils from kindergarten till grade 8 work with these computers, which are situated in the hallways. Children have easy access to the computers to practice, search for things, etc.

For ten years we have had an Internet connection. We were one of the first 10 schools in Holland who had their own website!
Our pupils also participate in several sport matches, which are organised by the city of Haarlem. We also visit museums, theatres and concerts.
Because of our long experience with internationalisation we have been asked to be ambassadors for this internationalisation by the Dutch national Bureau.

Direzione didattica Statale di san Casciano V.P. from Italy
The Circolo Didattico San Casciano includes three primary schools located in three different villages:
N. Machiavelli Primary school is in S. Casciano V.P;  







the other two Primary schools are    

one in Mercatale

and one in Cerbaia.

 The infant schools are located in each village of the area.
The age of the children is from 3 to 11.
They can attend the infant school for 3 years  but they must go to the primary school for 5 years.
There are about 1200 pupils (primary school: 33 classes;  infant school: 15 groups).
There are 70 primary teachers and 34 infant teachers. We have special teachers for gymnastics, foreign language, ICT, religion and special needs.
There are at least two caretakers in each school building.
Our schools are situated in the heart of Chianti Classico, about 20 kms far from Florence.
We have one ICT room in San Casciano, one in Mercatale and one in Cerbaia. All the pupils can have access to the computers only with their teacher.
We have had an Internet connection for five years, but only in San Casciano.
Our pupils visit museums, theatres and concerts.  

Kirkby Stephen Primary School from England

Kirkby Stephen Primary School is situated in the small Upper Eden Valley market town of Kirkby Stephen.  It is a rural area with many dairy and sheep farms, and a wide variety of small local industries.  The countryside is popular with tourists and is convenient for visiting the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.  Tourism is an increasingly important sector of the local economy. 

The pupils attending the school come from the town itself and the outlying villages, which means quite a large number of children are transported to school by bus.  The children are aged from four to eleven years, and there is one class in each year group.  There is a total of 216 boys and girls, and just over twenty staff.

The school is situated in a relatively isolated area of northern England, and over the last few years’ international links have been developed with schools in Holland, Italy, Poland, Romania and Russia.  The school feels it is important to broaden the children’s experiences, and recently a group of Italian students have spent two weeks in school on a work placement.   Staff from the Beatrixschool in Haarlem have visited the school to share good professional practice.  These links have been further enhanced by major investment in information technology, which enables rapid worldwide communication plus the introduction of new and exciting teaching methods. 

Who was Comenius? - top

Jan Amos Komenský, as is his Czech name, was born in 1562 in Moravia. It was a time of religious wars. After his studies of Philosophy and Theology Comenius was ordained minister of the Bohemian Brotherhood and appointed as a teacher and preacher. The tension between the Protestants and Catholics led, in 1618, to the outbreak of the thirty-year War. With this, the persecution of the Protestants started. Comenius lost, in this period, both his wife and his two little children to the plague and was forced to flee. So began a long exile, which finally ended when a rich merchant family in Amsterdam extended him a warm welcome. Here Comenius was able to concentrate on his theological, philosophical and educational work.
Comenius is especially known in the Netherlands as an educationalist, but for himself education was a condition for what he called: the improvement of human affairs. To improve the world he regarded proper education of the youth of essential importance.
His opinion was that there has to be education for all children, boy or girl, poor or rich, black or white. Besides that he developed a teaching method which uses a lot of pictures. He thought that it was very important when learning other languages.
He was an example for people like Montessori, Fröebel and Pestalozzi. His ideas still stand today.
The Comenius project honours this enlightenment of his time, which was far ahead of men's thoughts then.

Why do teachers visit each other's schools? - top

During the project several teachers from the partner schools will visit each other.
Working together becomes easier when you know each other. Because the annual conferences only enable the co-ordinators and headteachers to meet each other, the other teachers hardly know each other. Through the subsidy of the National Bureaux (via the European Committee) teachers can go and meet their foreign colleagues. These contacts stimulate the project and as you may remember, I have already spoken about the importance of meeting each other and about the benefits for teachers and children earlier on in this newsletter.
This year we also want to see what the possibilities are. For this, a lot of these visits will be planned in holidays, so that your children are not disrupted by absent teachers. However, this will not always be possible (e.g. when the partner schools have a holiday, then it is not possible to visit it of course)
In most countries the pressure of work for teachers is high. Through enquiries it has been found that international-working teachers (especially when they have the opportunity to make visits) don't suffer from burnout. Working internationally is very stimulating!!

Plans for the future - top

We want to try to enlarge our project with schools from other countries. We have put our first steps to that. Two schhols from Poland, 1 from Roumenia and an old partnerschool from the Czech Republic have asked for permission to join this project. .But we have to wait and see if they will get this persmission. At the end of June this will be clear.

Things we want to do next school year are:

Email en websites - top

Kirkby Stephen Primary School

Nateby Road
Kirkby Stephen
CA 17 4 AE
England GB

Telephonenumber:  00 44 17683 71387



Direzione didattica Statale di san Casciano V.P.

Via Empolese 14
50026 San Casciano V.P.

Telephonenumber: 00 39 055 820 171




Blinkertpad 3
2015 EX Haarlem

Telephonenumber: 00 31 23 5242255