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Partnerships For Pathways To Higher Education And Science Engagement In Regional Clusters Of Open Schooling

The EU-project PHERECLOS builds upon the experience of Children’s Universities (CUs) in Europe and beyond. Due to their engagement with children and young people, they help to breakdown institutional boundaries between universities and the wider society.

Project duration: 01/10/2019 – 30/09/2022

Classroom-centered teaching and learning is often disconnected from day-to-day life of the community. Both schools and universities are challenged by the discussion about the societal relevance of their achievements and their level of interaction with society. This is visible in current debates about societal connectivity, ranging from models of “Third Mission of Universities”, “Responsible Research and Innovation” to “Swafs” or “Community Based Learning”.

These models of engagement which can be beneficial for educational establishments and for the social communities in a wider context, provided that the involved actors have the capacity and knowledge to approach them.

The PHERECLOS project is built around three particular concepts as the main pillars:

The concept of Science Capital, which perceives individual representation of science as a bundle of commonplace habits, expectations and attitudes which are directly linked to and influenced by the everyday social sphere of individuals and all social actors herein.

The concept of Children’s Universities (CUs), which stands for non-formal university-based science engagement programs for children and young people as unconventional and non-traditional recipients of the academia.

The understanding of an Open School culture, in which schools reflect on external ideas, topics and challenges and incorporate them in their teaching approaches and everyday school life, and in return, provide the creativity and potential as the assets of their pupils and teachers to the community around them.

PHERECLOS therefore develops models and recommendations for new ecosystems in education, where schools will become a hub of a community to embark on new engagement strategies in STEAM, in fostering individual educational pathways towards higher education in reflection of the 21st century skills.

Local Educational Clusters

The key element of PHERECLOS is the development of models for Local Educational Clusters (LECs). The 6 pilots are all introduced by Children’s University providers who are profoundly experienced in the design and arrangement of science engagement programs at school-age levels. They are located in Mersin (Turkey), Kuopio (Finland), Lodz (Poland), Porto (Portugal), Trieste (Italy) and Medellin (Colombia).

LECs are communities of practice and shall serve as incubators of change in local education ecosystems. They operate with different thematic focuses (ranging from class room design to active citizenship), involve diverse schools (from kindergarten to upper secondary) and explore and deploy various didactical concepts and approaches (from co-creation to problem-based learning) with a clear focus on an inclusive and gender sensitive way of teaching and learning.

LECs involve different stakeholders and are working on a local topic of shared interest, including schools and school networks, for serving as an experimental testbed. All LECs implement similar means of community building to create a benefit for all participants of the clusters.

The LECs aim at establishing learning communities in a holistic way that is focused on institutional development and that puts schools in the center. New types of partnerships are established across the sectors and create new opportunities for educational landscapes, based on interconnected and innovation-geared activities. In this context, Children’s Universities take the role of mediation, of translation between the sectors and accelerating the learning.

Finally, the structural and processual insights gained from piloting such clusters are transferable to other communities, but they are responsive to particular thematic focuses, methods, regional aspects as the required baseline for new models.


PHERECLOS will address the following specific objectives:

Objective 1: Establishment

Establishment of Local Education Clusters (LEC) composed of key stakeholders as experimental testbeds for educational cooperation in six model regions.

Objective 2: Mentoring

Mentoring in ten cross-sectoral Transnational Education Mentoring Partnerships (TEMPs) between differently experienced parties in innovative education to create a snowball effect for the implementation and dissemination of transferable outcomes from the LECs.

Objective 3: Assessment

Assessment of regional effectiveness and impact to generate transferable implementation guidelines and policy briefs to enhance the sustainability of the overall approach.

Objective 4: Development

Development of a Good Practise Library, a White Book on Open Schooling Education Clusters and a Teacher Training Innovation Toolkit based on a thorough analysis of the school-community engagement models and their implementation within a profound methodological framework.

Objective 5: Implementation

Implementation of digital representation of accomplishments with an OpenBadge ecosystem for labelling reliable and responsive actors and to share this commitment for sustainable development.

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