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In a week when we left Europe twice*, the email conversation between mascil colleagues has been well populated. When the English contingent jokingly said their farewells last week we never really thought that our membership of European projects such as mascil (logo pictured above) would be in doubt. Incoming messages are a mixture of bewilderment, sadness, and a determination to ensure that international relationships, so carefully built, continue.
mascil (mathematics and science for life!) is a pan-European project, funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme for four years, and brings together 18 partners from 13 countries (mascil teams at work pictured above). The aims of mascil are to improve understanding of:
• how best to promote inquiry-based teaching strategies;
• the opening of schools to the world of work;
• effective initial teacher education and continuous professional development for science and mathematics teachers.
These are in line with the EU strategic priorities for STEM education.
The project has many aspects, or work packages, with each country team responsible for designing a different part, such as developing classroom materials which support inquiry-based learning, (Netherlands), e-learning materials (Spain), or the question of the month and students on-line conferences (Cyprus and Norway), with the English team (based at the University of Nottingham) planning and designing the extensive teacher training materials. Whilst the responsibility for design lies with national teams, the delivery of the project is a joint enterprise. Each country has its own version of the website and through this has enrolled 'multipliers' who then cascade the project through to classroom teachers. To date the project has worked with over 5000 teachers across the 13 countries. (Consortium members pictured left)
As a member of the 24-strong European Advisory Board, my job is to identify commonalities and differences, question assumptions and make recommendations. Our meetings are hosted in different European cities which means I sometimes have an opportunity to get into schools and have a chance to understand the way the education system works in that particular country. Of course, the best networking takes place outside the meetings where, over a glass of the local brew, we share, compare and contrast national policies, strategies and practices.
mascil ends this year with a final conference in Freiburg. I really hope the fellowship and friendships I have made will continue and, whatever happens in the next few months, I shall be working hard to ensure they do.
Director, Cambridge Maths
*EURO 2016 and European Union referendum