Schools open also in summer thanks to an innovative project to prevent learning loss and strengthen social relations: 570 girls and boys in 38 schools in 9 Italian cities
Summer can represent a unique and precious opportunity for a specific action to contrast the loss of learning, to support its recovery, to reinforce the motivation to study.
This is the challenge taken up, for the third consecutive year, by Arcipelago Educativo (www.arcipelagoeducativo.it), a project wanted, co-designed and co-financed by Save the Children and the Agnelli Foundation, born in the summer of 2020 after the first long lockdown caused by Covid.
The loss of learning, especially to the detriment of the most vulnerable students, is a serious risk that all educational systems are now facing globally. The “learning loss” caused by the closure of schools in presence during the pandemic has been heavy in every part of the world (recent data estimate it on average at 42% of the learning in a school year), although with great differences between country and country. but with a particular impact on students of disadvantaged origin. Even in Italy, students have paid a particularly high price, with the worsening of previously worrying delays, as confirmed by the Invalsi data of 2021.
As with other critical issues of our education system, the experience of the pandemic has allowed the Italian public opinion to understand how much the loss of learning generated by prolonged periods of school closure can weigh on the growth path of boys, girls and adolescents, in particular those who come from deprived socio-economic backgrounds, the most exposed to the risk of educational poverty and early school leaving.
This is also the case of the summer school break, which in Italy is among the longest in Europe and can in turn be at the origin of a significant loss of learning, especially to the detriment of students who come from families with a socio-economic level. low or medium-low economic and living in territories lacking or lacking accessible educational and recreational opportunities. This is the main object of the new edition of Educational Archipelago. While in Italy there are still no precise estimates of the phenomenon – and the project will also serve this purpose – a recent study has calculated that in the summer period students in the United States can lose between 17 and 28% of their learning in the linguistic area of the past school year, and between 25% and 34% of those in mathematics1.
Here are the cities
Arcipelago Educativo involves over 570 girls, boys and adolescents between 9 and 14 years old in the summer of 2022, who attend 38 schools in the cities of Turin, Milan, Venice-Marghera, Aprilia (LT), Ancona, Naples, Rosarno (RC), Bari and Palermo. Participating in the project are students for 41% of primary school and 59% of lower secondary school, with a
significant percentage of minors of foreign origin (34.5%).
The program includes 100 hours of face-to-face support: laboratory and play activities carried out in small groups in the external and internal spaces of schools, outdoor education initiatives to enhance the territory as a relevant context for learning, to which is also added personalized tutoring focused on specific objectives identified with the reference teachers.
The typical day of the Educational Archipelago begins with the warm-up activities, to involve the whole group, and the metacognitive ones, to stimulate reflection on the learning process in progress. These are followed by activities for strengthening learning, in a context of play and fun. Mathematical skills are developed with team sports, fractions are studied using dominoes, idiomatic expressions are used to reflect on the language, history is studied through the toponymy of one’s neighborhood, an urban safari is organized in search of flora and of the city fauna, outdoor outings are organized to get to know the beauties of the city and nature, places often never visited before by the participants in the project.
The strength of Arcipelago Educativo is an intervention model that is based on close collaboration with schools and families, aiming to promote the psychophysical well-being of girls, boys and adolescents, the consolidation and recovery of basic and transversal, of the relationship between peers and a better educational climate within families. The schools support the project, reporting students with greater difficulties, and define with the educators the individual learning plans according to the return to school in September. Parents actively participate by signing a co-responsibility pact, with which they are close to this educational experience of their children, also thanks to a periodic messaging service, which with the help of multi-lingual translations and infographics allows the realization of activities also in the home. Teachers, educators and parents have the opportunity to communicate directly on the growth path of the students involved through the digital notebook, an educational monitoring tool specially developed thanks to the scientific contribution of the University of Milano-Bicocca.
The methodological experience gained in the summers of 2020 and 2021, enriched with innovative aspects for the new year, was promoted during a cycle of webinars that involved about 450 professionals, mostly educators (55%) and teachers (16%) , but also volunteers (13%), engaged in various capacities in summer activities with children and teenagers, even outside the project.
With the same goal, Arcipelago Educativo has created from the beginning, in 2020, a dedicated platform (https://risorse.arcipelagoeducativo.it/), which offers a wide range of online resources for all teachers, educators, parents and students who want to carry out or organize activities
at educational centers, at school, at home, in groups or individually. The site, which from June 2020 to date has had over 1,200,000 views, contains an area dedicated to thematic itineraries that collects in-depth content, proposals for activities, resources, readings on specific topics and an area dedicated to news with events and updates on the world of school and education.
«Educational Archipelago is an innovative program aimed at many boys and girls who have suffered most from the effects of the pandemic. We have aimed, with the Agnelli Foundation, to enhance a time, the summer time, and a place like schools, to strengthen the sociability among students and, above all, to increase confidence in their abilities, curiosity and aspirations for the future. . With the difficulties that many families are facing today due to the economic crisis, Arcipelago Educativo offers children, free of charge, an environment to play, socialize and learn during the summer. It is an initiative that we hope will contribute, together with others, to offering all boys and girls, regardless of family economic conditions, a summer full of growth opportunities “said Raffaela Milano, Director of Save Italy Europe Programs. the Children.
“In addition to the benefits we hope the girls and boys involved in this edition of Arcipelago Educativo will have – declared Andrea Gavosto, Director of the Agnelli Foundation – the ambition is that this project together with Save the Children, whose effectiveness we now want to verify with a impact assessment, can inspire and act as a pilot to intervention models and organizational solutions that are also useful in other contexts. In fact, a great national effort is needed to counteract the learning losses caused by long school closures, particularly dramatic following the pandemic ».