A „School with Class 2.0” is one od Poland’s biggest and best known educational campaigns. It is an educational all-Poland program for elementary students (aged 7-12), lower-high (13-15) and high (16-18) schools. Our goal is to introduce a new way of thinking about education into Polish schools and promote principles that support up-to-date and effective education and raise its level.
In September of 2016 “A School whit Class” program started its 15th edition. Since then we focus on the autonomy of the school in choosing their own goals and areas they will work on throughout the school year. We support the participation of all members of the school community in the process of change.
Since 2002 over 9000 school 120 000 teachers and over a million students have already taken part in our program.
School with Class is conducted by the School with Class Foundation (created in 2015), together with the Center for Citizenship Education and ‚Gazeta Wyborcza’ (the biggest Polish daily) in collaboration with the Agora Foundation and the Polish-American Freedom Foundation.
A School with Class since 2002
From the very beginning the program required that participating schools attempt to implement such principles as: providing every student with a good education; guaranteeing fair assessment; developing thinking skills and helping to understand the world; promoting a social orientation; helping students believe in themselves; preparing young people for the future. Over 5000 schools have been awarded the title of a „School with Class”. The program has sponsored such projects as the „School with Class Academy”, „Lego, cogito, ago” and „Teacher with Class”.
The program was created by Poland’s biggest daily newspaper „Gazeta Wyborcza”, the Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej (Center for Citizenship Education – CCE) and the Gazeta.pl web portal under the patronage of the Ministry of Education. It was sponsored by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and the Agora Foundation.
„A School with Class” began with the publication of its manifest in „Gazeta Wyborcza” on the 20th of May 2002. The program consisted of the six main principles of a school friendly to the students, their teachers and parents:
We created special tasks for implementing each principle (30 tasks in all). The tasks selected and completed by the school are checked by our reviewers and consultants. If the results are approved the school is granted the title of „A School with Class”. During the three years of the original program the title was granted to over 5000 schools in Poland! We anticipate that taking part in the program will raise the level of the schools educational possibilities and cause lasting changes in their educational strategies.
„A School with Class” was probably the first educational program to run such a large-scale operation using the Internet. With the help of Gazeta.pl students and teachers created websites with information about their schools. After each task was completed and approved, information about it appears on the school’s site. This way Polish schools could present to the public what they have achieved. Local communities could use the information about the schools and verify it – a social control mechanism was created this way.
As part of the program we established the Polish School Festival. It took place at the end of the school year and its purpose was to show what students are learning and to bring schools closer to their local communities. We suggested that on this day schools invite not only the students but also their parents, local authorities and all the local people. Show them your schools, show them how you work!
Thousands of students, teachers, head masters and local authorities, that form „A School with Class”, all want their schools to teach critical and creative thinking skills, ensure fair assessment, create a good atmosphere, help students develop their sensitivity, give them self-confidence and prepare them for their adult lives in this modern, fast changing world. The assignments we gave the schools were ambitious and often innovative challenges. The schools’ reports were placed on their websites for public scrutiny – every student, teacher or parent was able to read about the school achievements.
We are constantly updating and developing our website and the internet data base which contains information about all the schools taking part in our programs. Lesson scenarios on virtually any subject, information and materials concerning extracurricular activities such as school clubs and organizations, examples of good practices – all this can also be found on our website. This information is available to every Internet user.
Our programs run within “A School with Class” campaign
Since May 2002 our operation has been continuously developing as we have been searching for new ways of helping the schools, teachers, students. After the first year of „A School with Class” we started a grant program called „A School with Class Academy” for the schools that already won the title. Schools received „Small Grants” for implementing the most interesting extracurricular activities. Till 2007 we have given out over 1100 grants – over 2 mln PLN in total.
During the school year 2004/2005 we organized an educational program called „Lego, Cogito, Ago”. All the schools in Poland were welcome to take part in it. Its main purpose was bringing to general attention the importance of skills such as: comprehensive reading (Lego), critical, creative and scientific thinking (Cogito) and active participation in public life (Ago).
The results of research done on education all indicate one thing – teachers, their skills and attitude are the most important factor in education. In many countries the belief in the significance of a good teacher caused the „renaissance of teaching as a profession”. We believe that despite the financial problems this phenomenon is much needed in Poland and, what’s more, can become reality. We suspect that Polish teachers are tired of being associated only with financial demands and battles with the government. They want to feel that what they do has a deeper meaning, they want to be noticed and appreciated.
Therefore, in the year 2005 we created a program aimed specifically at teachers. „A Teacher with Class” is a symbolic title that is awarded to Polish teachers who fulfill these conditions:
In September of 2006 we started the second edition of „A Teacher with Class” and simultaneously launched another program encouraging explicitly the students activities: “A Student with Class” in which for the first time educational students’ blogs were used in such a scale.
The next edition of a “School with Class” “ A School of Thinking” was implemented during 2 years – 2008-2010. It was all about reasoning, asking analytical questions, solving problems and using knowledge in practice. The aim was to develop in students such skills as solving problems, finding conclusions and critical, creative and scientific thinking by changing classroom practice and increasing the frequency of creative lessons and educative projects. We wanted to encourage teachers to use thinking-developing methods (including students’ educative projects), as far as mathematical-environmental and humanistic-social ranges are concerned. The teachers and students have shown their achievements during school science festivals. We supported the teachers through creating BIM – Library of Educational Internet Materials where they could find examples of projects and tasks. Both editions of the School of Thinking gathered almost 2,500 teachers from over 650 schools from all educational levels.
“A School with Class 2.0”, the next edition of the School with Class campaign, was operating since September of 2010. It raised a question of how to teach and learn in the era of digital and global communication. It focuses on strategies and models of ICTs use for the development of key academic, citizenship and social skills necessary for young global citizens. We reflected on how ICTs can be used in teaching, communication, assessment and how this may help to develop creativity, good judgment and team spirit. The program enhanced empowerment, builds overall digital and media literacy, provided content knowledge in different subject areas, with a strong focus on STEM education and project and problem-based methods. Schools and experts worked out, gathered and shared ICTs good practices in teaching/learning which shape good judgment, team spirit and global responsibility. The Program provided an open internet library of ICT-based lessons, exercises and projects. The elaborated model was be reproduced on a global scale in different educational contexts.
As in every edition of the program, also in School with Class 2.0 the whole school community is involved – not only teachers, but also headmasters, school coordinators and students. The participants assess resources their school disposes and plans to improve ICT-based performances. Each school modifies activities depending on its priorities. School coordinators support other teachers’ work, organize the debates and coordinate the Festival 2.0 – an overview and a celebration of teachers efforts and students projects work. Pupils run their own blogs on a specially designed platform, sharing ideas and experiences with their peers, commenting other peoples’ entries and most of all – building a digital community of learners.