Sustainable relationships at Furuhällsskolan, Sweden
Swedish primary schools stayed open during the covid-19 pandemic but of course with changes, adaptions to the situation and with a harder situation for the staff. For example we tried to minimize physical meetings with parents and did not allow people outside the organization to visit us. We had to prepare for digital education if schools had to close (but they have not so far) and it took lots of time and was stressful to do while teaching as usual.
Due to the pandemic there were special regulations about how to stay home in case of symtoms. This also affected the work situaion because even if staff members did not have covid (testings were not taken place at a large scale this period) they had to stay home until no symtoms were shown and 2 extra days. When staff members were home sick the workload was heavier for the ones at school.
Because all these reasons we decided to put the project on pause and did not do a lot of the planned activities etc during the spring.
When school started after the summer break we reminded of the sustainable relationships activities and started to include activities again. After the coordinators' digital meeting we tried to intensify the activities a bit. It is sad to say that the closer to the meeting in Nov/Dec the more restrictions we had due to a fast increasing covid situation in Sweden.
Here is a presentation from the Swedish team about sustainable relationships:
Our municipality has picked Roots and wing s as a theme for all schools and kindergartens.
The roots stand for democratic values, competence, security and self-esteem.
The wings stands for curiosity, creativity and courage to learn new things.
The first chapter in the Swedish curriculum is named: "The school's values and mission".
Before knowledge, the importance of teaching basic values is mentioned.
The schools must teach and highlight respect for human rights and the fundamental democratic values on which Swedish society rests.
2. Building sustainable relationships between children:
Older pupils are "buddies" for younger. Class 5 are buddies for class 2, class 4 for class 1 and class 3 for the pre-schools. This is to get pupils of different ages to learn to know each other better, to get the older to help and mentor the younger and for the younger to feel safer at school when they learn that the older pupils are nice and helpful. Because of the covid-19 we encourage to do activities outdoors and not to keep too close. They have for example picked rubbish together in the area and the older kids have arranged to play together during school recess and decided what to do. The plan is for the buddy classes to meet once every second week. This encourage both sustainable relationships and outdoor learning. At the moment, November 2020, the covid cases have increased a lot so we have decided to paus this activity for a while.
Buddies of different ages.
Cooperation games at the leisure time centers
Leisure time centers in Sweden is a voluntary educational activity in the afternoons and school holidays for children between 6 and 13 years old. Parents can have their child at the leisure time centers when they are at work or studying. The leisure time centers has it's own chapter in the curriculum and is controlled by the school law.
One of the focus areas is cooperation games when pupils learn to know eachother and not only their best friends and they practise to work together. These games are organised activities and often outdoors but of course also indoors.
School holidays at the leisure time centers
In the school holidays we have mutual activities with all the units at the leisure time centers. About 150 children in total. It differs during the seasons but lots of activities take part outdoors.
Once a month all the school (pupils and staff) gather for a monthly meeting at the gymnasium. We celebrate the ones who have their birtday this month and sing a birthday song for them, introduce new staff members and pupils, we sing our school's own song, get information and watch performance from one of the classes (they take turn being responsible). Due to covid we have cancelled the monthly meetings but have now started digital meetings where all the classes stay in their classroom but they allconnect at the same time.
Svante tells about the project meeting in Latvia.
The whole school reads
Older pupils read for younger. They choose what to read together. Sometimes the young ones dear to read for the older. This used to take place once a month but has paused due to covid.
We celebrate lots of traditions at school in different ways. We often invites families in the evenings and sometimes we perform at a retirement home or somewhere else. Different classes are responsible for different traditions such as:
- Year 2: Christmas theatre
- Year 3: Walpurgis Mass celebration (welcome spring)
- Year 4: lucia
- Year 5: Christmas carols
Halloween always occur during school holiday, but the leisure time centers celebrate well. We also pay attention to the UN day, earts hour and other theme days.
3. Building sustainable relationships between staff members:
Furuhällsskolan is a popular place to work at and we want it to stay pleasant. We work in teams and usually there are staff with different education in the same team, for example school teachers, leisure center teachers and pre-school teachers. This way there are many competences in the same team working with the same pupils. Working in teams make you support each other and we think we all gain a lot from it.
We have a group of staff members who arrange social activities during and after work hours. A new thing is a game where a colleague present her/himself with clues every day of the week Mon-Fri. You get 5 points if you guess right on Monday and only 1 if you don't know until Friday. A way of learning new sides of your colleague!
Once or twice a year we have a quiz contest during a study day. We are also invited to do things like forest walks during a weekend, going dining together, etc.
4.Building sustainable relationships with families
Twice a year (each term) we invite pupils and their parents to come for a meeting about how their child is doing at school, what to concentrate on, social situation, etc. We write down what to improve until the next meeting and how school can help. Because of covid we have done digital meetings, usually the pupil has been with the teacher, connecting to one or both parents and it has been working better than excpected.
We usually have one or two meetings for all parents in a class each school year. Giving information, maybe deciding on a class camp before the exams, etc. They have been cancelled due to covid.
Drop in/drop out
This is a way of showing parents what we do at school and to meet in a relaxed way. Usually at the end of the days the time most students are picked up to go home and run by the leisure time centers. Often involves some kind of snack meal or Swedish fika with coffee. Sometimes classes have their own evenings, concentrating more on school subjects while the drop in/outs tend to focus more on the artistic sides.
Due to covid it has not been possible to invite parents. Since we miss including the parents we decided to make an art exhibition about Friendship (sustainable relationships) that can be seen from outside the school. We put all the artwork on the windows, facing the school yard.
Traditions with parents
Some of the traditions we celebrate we invite families to see such as lucia and the Christmas performances. These are very popular!
The first and last day of the school year are also well visited. On the first day we welcome the pre-school pupils and on the last day we take farewell of the year 5:ers and all classes have cakes in the classrooms with lots of family members joining.
Usually parents make sure to collect money for a final camp trip for the oldest pupils to take farewell of eacother when they split up for the next school. They often involve their children to sell cookies and stuff, have flee markets etc. Parents also help out at the camps because teachers are not allowed to sleep over.
5. Building relationships with local community
We sometimes make performances for the local community, usually some retirement home and it is very appreciated.
We have also had exhibitions in the library such as artwork or books students have written.
Lucia at a retirement home.
6. Little footprints project
Covid started just when we were about to start our sustainable relationships theme. School stayed open but things have not been as usual when we have not been able to invite parents or mix pupils in different classes or include local community.
Our aim was to have a group of students involved in the Little footprints project/sustainability group but it has been a struggle to be able to meet when lots of staff have been missing and also the not mix students made it hard. We therefore have not had evaluation from them or parents.
7. Sustainable relationships activities
Since we would have had the sustainable relationships LTT at our school we had planned quite a lot of activities. For example to let you join the walking school bus, wich has to be postponed until we might go to Sweden for a LTT.
Students have joined competitions and will show a film when we present our school meeting 2.
We planned to run an activity for parents and with the art exhibition we managed to do so.
Our local newspaper is not longer existing but another one that used to be more of an advertisment paper has switched to more news articles. We have tried to make them write about our project, recently about the covid proof art exhibition, but they have not been interested. We will publish something in the school's own magazine, made by pupils. We missed out on the local community this way and planned to go to a retirement home to sing friendship songs but because of covid we could only stay outdoors and the people at the home would listen from their balconys. We planned to do so but the work situation made us slowing down, we just did not manage to arrange this. Also, singing together is not encouraged since covid has been known spreading in choirs.
We started our buddy system this term and it is a great way of making connections between children of different ages and classes at school, children that normally don't interact so much. We managed to run some activities and meeting (mainly outdoors) until stricter regulations put this to a halt but we plan to take up this as soon as possible and make it a regular thing.