ABOUT ESCOLA BÁSICA dos 2º e 3º CICLOS Dr. ANTÓNIO AUGUSTO LOURO
SEIXAL – PORTUGAL
António Augusto Louro School is a secondary school and the seat of 6 schools: us and 5 primary schools (children from 6 to 10 years) with kindergarten (children from 3 to 5 years).
Our school grouping is composed by 189 teachers and 2066 students. It also has 6 administrative staff and 50 auxiliary staff for general services, (26 in the head-office school and 24 in the primary schools).
Our secondary school has 105 teachers and 817 students whose ages are between 10 and 15 years, but due to academic failure have some older students aged up to 18 years. We have 5 grades and 39 classes. 2 of these classes are formed exclusively by young people who had previously academic failure and are now receiving professional training related to their vocational preferences.
Currently our school grouping has 189 students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) , 10 in the Kindergarden, 72 in the primary schools and 107 in the head-office school and here only 4 of the 39 classes do not have students with this type of needs, 20 of this students have Individual Specific Curriculum “CEI” and 13 have multiple disabilities. Specialized support for these students is provided by a team of 16 teachers specialized in teaching students with special educational needs for all grouping, 8 in the head-school, 4 of these teachers give personalized support in one room to small groups and the other 4 work in 2 classrooms specializing in Multideficiency Support (multiple disabilities and congenital deaf/blindness, etc). In order to support these Special Education teachers, we have partnerships with associations (Cercizimbra) and (Lapsis) that provide non-governmental support to citizens with disabilities, who put in our group specialized technicians in the area of speech therapy, psychology, Physiotherapy and psychomotricity. We have a psychology and vocational counseling service headed by a psychologist who does an extremely important job.
Our failure rates are high although lower than the national average, we found out that in 2015-2016 we had an overall withholding rate of 8.1%. The third cycle has a very high failure rates: 27.2% in the 7th grade, 24.7% in the 8th grade and 15.7% in the 9th grade.
This year we have 82 foreigner students from 12 different countries, including our former colonies and also from the countries above spoken, so there is a great linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity. Lusophone countries students many also not dominate the Portuguese language because they use the Creole to express themselves as Portuguese being the second language used by the students. Many of their families are socioeconomically disadvantaged and a large number of these families, especially African and Brazilian, have a low school level. This year we also have 20 students from countries where Portuguese is not spoken.
There also exists a significant Gypsy community which has serious problems of school integration and consequently very low school success. In all the agroupment of schools there are 79 students of gypsy ethnicity, and in the secondary school, which has the most grown students; there are 28 enrolled students of gypsy ethnicity.
Unemployment is very high in our region, which leads to many students living in very difficult conditions. These situations contribute to school failure and drop out. This school year, 766 students from families with major economic difficulties are enrolled in our school group, which are supported economically by the services of School Social Action. Regarding the head school, we verified this year that 338 of the students (41%) belong to families with economic difficulties, 222 families survive on less than 245 euros per month, which are incomes below 58% of the poverty line and 128 families have of less than 489 euros per month. Added to this is the fact that there are many single-parent (mothers) and dysfunctional families.
Many of the students with unsuccessful school level and multiple retention in the same year or cycle of study come from the Lusophone African countries and usually have many difficulties in the Portuguese language, belong to families with great economic difficulties and/or single-parent families. In order to improve students’ self-esteem, self-confidence and school interest, we have vocational courses, made especially for students with multiple retentions and misadjusted age at the school level reached, where we try to give students’ a second chance and make them satisfied about learning. The vast majority of these young people (80%) has successfully completed the vocational course and intends to continue their studies in the secondary educational system, which fills great the teachers who worked with them.
We have a good/healthy working environment among education professionals, with many teachers involved in extra-class projects.
We try to have a diversified offer of clubs and projects, which are open to participation by all students and where special attention is given to students with Special Educational Needs, being in some cases the main form of daily occupation of SEN students. These are the following clubs: “Journalism”, “Live Science”, “Informatics ABC”, “Portuguese Knowledge”, “Club of English”, “Arts Workshop”, “Design Workshop” and “Museum Nucleus”. Every year several events are held in our school, such as: “Mathematical Kangaroo Contest”; “Mathematics Window”; “Game of the 24”; “Olympiads of almost all subjects”; “Open Laboratory of Experimental Sciences”; “Canta-Fest – Music contest”; “Week of Expressions” and “Week for Clean Ideas”.
We always INCLUDE our SEN students in these events and try to assign organisational responsibilities to students, especially those with greater difficulties of insertion or with lower self-esteem, valuing their capacity for initiative and collaborative spirit.
About 30 activities included in the “Health Project” are organized every year, some of them, such as the celebration of the “International Day of the Disabled” (December 3), the “School Day of Nonviolence and Peace”, the “Liking me to like others”, “Week of affection”, aim to sensitize students about the kinds of differences that exist among children, to promote the development of more positive attitudes towards students with SEN, promote attitudes of tolerance towards their peers, provide students with moments of discussion/reflection about their relationship with each other, promote gender equality, value affection among people in development and the awareness of the importance of self-esteem and self-concept.
In order to promote school success in some curriculum areas such as Mathematics and English, our grouping of schools has implemented the “Fénix” and “Class +” projects that work with students from 2 classes simultaneously but in 3 different rooms and with 3 different teachers consisting on the temporary sending of students with more difficulties or (in order not to give rise to the labeling and negative discrimination) of the intermediate students or those with the best results, for the third room, thus creating 3 groups with smaller number of students and with more homogeneous learning stages. It was verified that this project is a promoter of school success, contributes to the reduction of absenteeism and promotes the integration of young gypsy ethnicity students.