In keeping with Indire’s mission, the main objective of the research into Small Schools, is to promote the adoption of innovative teaching models in schools of a reduced size and characterized by a disadvantageous territorial location. The research, which is particularly interested in the use of new technologies, focuses on a more marginal type of educational approach that is nonetheless very common in Italy due to its geography: schools with multi-age classrooms and those with a small number of students that cannot work effectively without specific technological solutions and related education organizations in terms of space and the time to realize educational mediation.
To support the survival of schools in geographically disadvantaged areas and their function as strongholds of education and culture and to tackle the phenomenon of dwindling populations, over the years Indire has assisted various schools on the small islands and mountainous areas of Italy by launching experiments with joint working arrangements thanks to the Internet and videoconference systems; these networks have made it possible to overcome the geographical isolation, to link classes with few students, and to develop educational pathways based around the use of new technologies.
Thanks also to the projects entrusted to it, and to national and international cooperation, Indire now aims to strengthen the national small schools network to provide adequate support to their classes so that they can operate in a social environment that is as open and dynamic as possible. At the same time, Indire aims to launch a scheme to valorize professional practice using an innovation model based on shared exemplars and consolidated experiences that will be developed and extended bottom-up on a widespread basis.
The observation and support scheme that Indire uses with the networks of small schools in isolated localities of Italy, allows it to identify and analyse models and methodologies that are transferable to small Italian schools, thus launching a training/information provision scheme on how to improve teaching in these contexts.
Indeed, the research has identified teacher training as the main dimension to invest in to support these types of school, which are subject to high teacher turnover, with particular attention to educational content and to a technological set-up that can provide models to try out and subsequently encourage their adoption.
In order to systematize the innovation, Indire proposes a directory of experiential professional practice, aimed at guaranteeing a road to sustainability and a large scale impact. The teachers and professionals who will become a part of this “directory” can be summoned from the territories of reference and constitute an important driver for the dissemination of innovation, based on interventions in schools and on the documentation of the practices proposed and carried out in class.
Since 2016, the “Small Schools” research project has been granted funding under the Multi-fund National Operational Programme (2014EN05M2OP001) “School Learning Skills and Environments 2014-2020”, under Axis I: “Investing in skills, education and lifelong learning” and has been able to systematize certain actions to build a pathway involving the whole community who are members of the Movement.
National and international network agreements
Indire has activated national network agreements with the main subjects that revolve around the actions of governance and support for small schools and international collaborations aimed at identifying possible comparisons with similar realities and studying models that enrich and improve community and community activities. – design between schools.
The agreement with CEFRIO (Center facilitating the research and innovation in organizations, at the aide of information and communication technologies) and the Commission of the Fleuve et des Lacs, Ministère de l’éducation et de l’enseignement supérieur of the QUEBEC has as its object the study of the model ÉER adopted for the networking of the small schools of Québec and its declination and experimentation for small Italian schools.
Participation of Indire in ENRD
The ENRD network (European Network for Rural Development) acts as a platform for exchanging information on the concrete functioning of policies, programs, projects and other rural development initiatives and how these can be improved to achieve results. Within the Network, INDIRE is part of the Thematic Group on Smart Villages, which explores how rural services related to health, work, education, energy, mobility and other issues can be improved and made more sustainable.
The Indire-ANCI agreement has as its object the identification of forms of collaboration between the Parties and for the implementation of joint initiatives, aimed at contributing to the better implementation of the Education Plan for the rural and mountain areas, provided for by law n . 158/2017.
Indire Agreement – Madonie School Network
Collaboration between Indire and the school network of the Madonie mountain area to carry out research and training/coaching. In addition to the dissemination of innovative educational models for small schools, the agreement also envisages trialling a vertical curriculum that can integrate the territory with the school curriculum, through joint planning with Indire researchers, breaking new ground in terms of skills and teaching methods.
Indire-USR Abruzzo agreement
The Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Regional School Office for Abruzzo aims to promote the development and dissemination of innovation methodological processes, as well as the transformation of learning environments in the region’s “small schools”. The Memorandum extends the actions of the Small Schools Project in the inland areas of Abruzzo, with attention to those areas where a Framework Programme Agreement (APQ).
Indire Agreement – G. Spataro Comprehensive Institute of “Gissi”
Collaboration with the “G. Spataro” Institute in Gissi (CHIETI), a “small” school with 19 school complexes scattered throughout the Abruzzo region for the exploitation and transfer of the “EXPANDED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT” method. The agreement seeks to support the management of ICT teaching by improving inclusion practices and the management of multi-age classrooms through the enhancement of teachers’ competence in inland areas.