“LES” introduces into the daily operation of schools an original quality assurance system that improves pupils’ learning outcomes. The system is based on formative assessment, a set of learning strategies which constitute the basic tool for working with schools. By encouraging learners and teachers to become partners in learning, the system develops learning skills, strengthens internal motivation, and gives children and youth a sense of authorship. “LES” schools develop ways to perfect teacher performance, monitor results of performed activities, and share best practices with each other. The “Learning Schools” program improves the effectiveness of teaching and learning, organizing the functioning of a school as a learning institution, increasing the competencies and autonomy of teaching staff, strengthening the position of headmasters, and ensuring cooperation between the school and its outside environment.
In the course of 22 years the program gathered some 10,000 schools, of which 3,000 participated in its core part that aimed at introducing formative assessment. Nearly 160,000 teachers attended training sessions offered by various “LES” components. This figure includes just under 12,000 school principals.
The “LES” training offer involves long-term actions for holistic school development, year-long e-learning courses for teachers, and one-day workshops for teaching staff. Since 2005, “LES” has cooperated with Collegium Civitas to offer Postgraduate Courses for Education Leaders to headmasters.
With multiple pressures on the Polish education system, e.g. the changes introduced by Poland’s National Education Ministry in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine which resulted in an influx of refugees to Poland, it became necessary to help school principals and teachers rise up to these new challenges. To this end, “LES” added “Resilient School” to its portfolio. The objective behind this new initiative is to create a network of schools, enhance teacher skills, and strengthen the position of headmasters by publishing conclusions of expert analyses, exchanging information, sharing opinions, and presenting good practices in education, learner counseling, and organizing work at participating schools. 2022 saw about 40 webinars and workshops for more than 30,000 teachers and headmasters. “Resilient School” drew from the experience accrued in “Let’s Talk about Refugees,” an undertaking supported by PAFF under “LES” in recent years.
In parallel to ad-hoc actions, “LES” modified the curricula of regularly held courses, training, and workshops to adjust them to the external environments of schools. The pandemic prioritized remote education, while the war in Ukraine shifted the focus to integrating Polish and Ukrainian children while providing them with education, working with Ukrainian parents, delivering psychological aid and counseling to children traumatized by war, and adjusting school organization to the needs of Ukrainian learners.
The many years of “LES” experience is also used in various educational initiatives financed from EU funds. These include: “The Student Academy,” “Digital School,” “The Learning Schools Academy for Education Leaders,” and the “School for the Innovator” ran from 2019 to 2022. The purpose of these initiatives is to develop competencies which students will need in adult life, by promoting innovative teaching, assessment and evaluation methods among teachers and school principals, and by reshaping the organization of schoolwork. So far, more than 10,000 schools have taken part in these initiatives.
PAFF is a partner to the “School with Class” initiative which promotes modern educational solutions among schools and teachers, cutting-edge ITCs, the design thinking method, and the agile methodology. The “School with Class” campaign kicked off in 2002, inspired by “LES” and carried out by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation in cooperation with the “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily. In 2015, the School with Class Foundation took over as organizer. In the past the campaign expanded to include additional initiatives, such as: “Teacher with Class,” “Lego, Cogito, Ago,” “Student with Class,” and “School of Thinking.” In total, “School with Class” has gathered more than 9,000 schools from all over Poland and some 150,000 teachers. The twentieth jubilee edition of “School with Class” implemented in the 2021/22 school year attracted 100 schools from all Polish regions.
The Foundation has disbursed $15,746,973, including $470,124 for the current edition.