Briefly presentation of the organization
Externato Cooperativo da Benedita (ECB) is part of the Instituto Nossa Senhora da Encarnação (INSE), which is located in Benedita, Alcobaça, founded in 1964 with the purpose of serving the local community. It is a cooperative that gives public educational service to young people from 12 to 18 years of age, from the 7th to 12th grades and also vocational training courses. It is a school of Project, based on a local development project, that has always developed and grown itself within a culture of teaching and learning based on projects: from science to Theatre, Music to Chess, Sports and also the Maths, Biology and Physics Olympiads.
In the Educational Project for 2014 to 2017, ECB defines as its Mission: Educate for the Challenges of the Future; and as its Vision: Strengthen the Best in Each of Us. It also assumes that Excellence doesn’t have a finishing line, since it depends on each of our starting point. The main purpose is to promote the following values, attitudes and skills: commitment; sustainability; responsibility; analysis, synthesis and critical thinking; creativity; autonomy; desire for the new; solidarity; assertiveness; ethics; empathy and resilience.
ECB began a process of CAF self evaluation in 2006/2007. In June 2010, it obtained the renewal of the “Committed to Excellence” level, 1st level of Excellence from EFQM- which is recognition for its dedication, commitment and determination to improve constantly. Since that time, it is the school’s policy to sound out parents and students about their degree of satisfaction towards its service.
The organizational structure of ECB is made of the Offices of the Systems of Information; of Projects, Communication and Image; of Innovation and Pedagogical Training; of The team of Action for Success and Psychology, that are responsible for the organization, dinamisatíon and supervision of activities/projects, as well as individual tutoring of the student with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
ECB also develops a set of activities of improvement and curricular complements(clubs, special days, events, conferences, tournaments, projects…), which are activities of a cultural and ludic nature, in the sports, artistic, scientific and technological areas, to connect the school with the world, of solidarity and voluntary service and the European dimension of education, providing the students, within the Educational Project, activities such as conferences, theatre, sports, participation in national and European programmes in areas like science or environment, an annual Book Fair and a newspaper.
In the most relevant topics of this project we can single out “Project Crescer”, “ECB Young People + / ECB Solidarity (which is part of the national project Young Volunteam), “Eco-Escolas”, “Sorriso Amigo” and the GleeClub.
The school has qualified and equipped facilities: 64 classrooms; 25 classrooms with specific equipment; 7 laboratories; a library (open to the students and to the population) with 400 square metres; Internet service, a video library and a languages room; it also has a Centre of Education Resources and Tutoring – with material, computers and work space; a canteen and bars; a stationer’s, a students’ room with equipment (a WC, a lift and an infirmary/sickroom) adapted to students with physical handicaps; a sports hall/gym and an outside sports field, with vast equipment for several sports, which is also open for an organized use from local institutions and to the population; a cultural centre, multipurpose, with a hall for 360 people and a conference room.
The teaching staff is made of 84 certified teachers with pedagogical experience. It has 8 administrative employees, 23 caretakers and a higher rank technician.
The school has partnerships with many companies and other local institutions for the internships into active life for students who have concluded the vocational training courses. It has always had the best cooperation and availability from the companies receiving the internships and work context training, and a significant number of students find their first job in the companies where they did their internship. Many of those students study at universities (Technological Specialization Courses or Degrees in Polytechnic Institutes) and continue to work in those companies.
Another demonstration of the proximity and commitment of ECB to the community, resulting from the partnership with the Employment Centre of Alcobaça and the Parish Council of Benedita, is the creation and functioning of an Office for the Integration/Insertion in Active Life of Benedita, situated in the facilities of the Parish Council of Benedita, that renders service to the population and also the local companies. It supports the trainees of Education and Training Courses of young people and/or of vocational training courses, in their integration in the work market.
Activities and experience
ECB has offices, projects and partnerships for the harmonious development of its teachers and students in their cognitive, emotional and social aspects, in order to build/form successful citizens that are responsible and participant in a society, which is more and more global. All of these activities are organized by teachers and technicians who are certified and have experience in the project’s methodology involving students, teachers and other staff, parents and tutors, in different stages, to respond to the specific needs of the audience, of the school and society in general.
In relation to the teachers experience in European projects, the most important are:
- Erasmus+ KA 219 has been a project with the partnership of 4 European schools, whose aim is to promote the European Values and Atitudes among students.
- “School Robotics” promoted by Hands-on Science Network, one in Kosice, in Slovakia in 2013, and another in Paris, in France in 2014, in the programme Lifelong Learning – Comenius, with the participation of 2 teachers.
- “inGenious”, an initiative of the European Schoolnet and of the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), in 2013/2014, with the participation of 3 teachers. Two teachers also participated in a display of developed projects/work, in Slip, in Croatia.
Here are the most important school projects for this application, in the areas of Values and Respect, Solidarity, Honesty and Tolerance:
- The school has a drama club, called “Gambuzinos”, which performs several plays every year.
- The subject “Portuguese as a Foreign Language” supports the foreign students concerning the Portuguese language.
- In Physical Education classes, the teachers also teach dancing in some school years.
- The school has a protocol with the Music Academy of Alcobaça, which provides music and singing teachers. There are at least 3 classes with this protocol every year.
- The school has an auditorium to offer the school community cultural shows, with the partnership of the City Council of Alcobaça.
- Project Crescer – So that each student can acquire skills to make decisions in a conscious and structured way in the several areas of their lives, weighing the consequences of their short, medium and long term decisions. The project works in areas such as: Personal and Social Development; Nutrition and Physical Activity; Prevention of the Consumption of Psychoactive Substances; Sexual Education and STD’s; Mental Health/Violence in School; Promotion of safety and Prevention of Accidents; Environment and Health; Citizenship; Education for Consumerism and Financial Literacy.
- The Project ECB Young People + / ECB Solidarity helps the students to develop an attitude of civic consciousness and of openness to the community where they live; it promotes voluntary work/solidarity actions in and out of school; it develops values of respect and solidarity towards others; it promotes habits and attitudes of sustainable citizenship, making the students aware that individual actions can interfere in other people’s quality of life, and also of their community.
- The Psychology Office gives psycho-pedagogical help and learning orientation to students, and it also supports parents, tutors and teachers.
- The “Sorriso Amigo” Organization is a solidarity project that promotes human and social solidarity; it connects the school and the community and develops the spirit of cooperation and/or mutual help.
In relation to ECB participation in European Projects/International field trips, the most important are:
- The Visual Arts Department has been promoting field trips abroad for 22 years. They have visited Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Salamanca, Santiago Compostela, Ourense, to value the Historic and Artistic Heritage, to reinforce and complement the programmatic contents, to sensitize to the aesthetic value of different artistic expression forms and to promote personal relationships.
- The French Language Department has been promoting a trip to the Futuroscope, in Poitiers, for 5 years, to make contact with native speakers of the language, to know the application of new technologies; and to experience living abroad.
- The annual pilgrimage to Taizé is promoted by the Moral, Religion and Catholic Education Department. It is an experience of cultural and religious exchange with young people from several countries.
- In 2009, the school presented a project to apply for the Comenius Programme, named “Paths of Cister”, related to monuments of the Cister Order that exist in Europe.
The Project Office, in charge of organization and development of this application, is made of 5 teachers from ECB: the Marketing and International Relationships Manager, two teachers from the teaching staff with a vast experience, one of which teaches a foreign language, and also the vocational training courses main tutor, with experience in the coordination of school projects (previously mentioned).
This team has shown skills in the communication in foreign languages, in the personal relationships with the participants and the partnership entities, in the ability to solve problems, in team work, in entrepreneurship and dynamism, as well as in the usage of the communication technologies.