Maria Saponaro, english teacher and Erasmus coordinator at Liceo Attilio Bertolucci explains us how schools can make a difference despite the limited autonomy due to the centralized control from the Ministery. She also explains step by step how is it to take part in a collaborative Erasmus project.

«The frame is given by the Government but you can make a difference depending your choices»

How can you make a difference when you are talking about school in Italy? The autonomy in Italy is relative because manly is decided centrally. It’s our Ministry that makes a decision and establishes what you can do as school. So the frame is given by the Ministry of education, the kind of subjects you have to do…The difference can be made in the choice you make when performing the school.

For example, if you want to be innovative you have to start acting innovative, you have to start strategies to be innovative in every day lessons. You can decide to apply for funds. There are a lot of funds, a lot of possibilities, but that implies some work, trying to organize the school in a different way is not always easy. You have also to prepare families for that.

«Erasmus lets the students develop their soft skill, skills that are difficult to develop during the everyday lessons»

We have a huge Erasmus work here. Because we believe that Erasmus really offers a lot of possibilities.

The main objective about the school is mission, I would say. Because is a future objective to develop the global competence. And which is the best tool to develop this competence? Experiencing a globality and Erasmus offers that opportunity.

It offers students the opportunity to develop their personal competence, interpersonal competence, linguistic competence, also speaking a foreign language, and skills that are important for their future. If you think about the working future, the necessity to learn through the rest of their life, because we don’t know what the future jobs will be and so we have to prepare them to face new jobs, new needs for their future.

During this Erasmus project you work in a different ways because you have to really exploit your soft skills. You have to learn to work in teams, you have to start solving problems, to be creative as much as possible, to be able to use digital skills… so a cluster of skills that is difficult to develop in everyday lessons.

«Preparing a Erasmus project is a hard work but we have the support of the community to go ahead»

It works like that. A group of schools decides to work together in an idea, you have a form and have to start filling it with your idea. First you meet and discuss which are the key target you want to work with and achieve together and how you are going to develop it, and what is important to do together. So you can start filling this form, putting the idea, skype meeting so we work together to present this form. And this form is so detailed that you have to go into the smallest details of the project so that you have frame, content, everything and you can start walking.

You work a lot to present the project because just imagine, six countries working together on an idea and you have to be innovative someway. You have to also cope with the targets that are maybe not yours but come from the European Union. Then you present it and you hope to have the funds, to have it granted, and when it’s granted the real work starts. Beforehand you decide the school team which is going to work in the project. We have also some local partner which don’t appear in the form that support us, university of Parma, the Municipality…

The territory is ready to work with us. We have just to ask and they are ready to help us, to support us. We have lots of reliable partners but I think we also are reliable and they know we want to do. It’s also because of our reputation, everybody knows that we are open-minded, innovative and we want to really do something for education to change and to innovate and it’s not difficult for us.

«Participating in projects is the key to build better relationships between teachers and students»

Which is the key to build closer relationships between teachers and students?

Participating in projects means working with them, common goals, living together, because when we travel we spend a whole day together, we work together, relationship changes a little bit, it’s not “I am the teacher and you are the student”, we are a group and we are working together to achieve a goal. This changes your relationship, you are not just the teacher but you are the teacher who they know better, the teacher they can work with, they can talk to about personal stuff, because when you are spending together the whole day, things changes someway.


I am a telecommunications engineer, teacher in innovative education and freelance filmmaker questioning not the "Why?" but the "Why not?" in every aspect of life. Since 2017 I travel the world looking for stories worth telling.

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