- Does the entire school have to participate in the programme?
As National Coordinator, we feel that our Blue Star teachers are best equipped to tailor the programme to their own individual school and the programme is designed to be as flexible as possible to allow for this. The entire school can take part or alternatively, teachers can choose to involve only one or two classes. Furthermore, some Blue Star teachers in the past have chosen to split the four key elements of the programme between particular classes.
- Can I integrate the Blue Star programme into other programmes/lesson plans?
Yes of course. The Blue Star programme is designed to be very curriculum friendly so it will fit right in with many of the lesson plans already in place. Additionally, this year we have a curriculum guide which was developed in conjunction with our Blue Star Teachers. It is designed to support our participating Blue Star teachers and includes advice and guidelines on all elements of the programme. We hope that teachers will find it a useful resource and aide.
- What age group is the programme aimed at?
The programme is aimed at all primary school classes as it can be easily tailored to suit all ages. As stated in the answer to Question 1, we feel that our Blue Star teachers are best equipped to tailor the programme to their own school. Participating Blue Star teachers can choose to have certain classes complete all elements of the programme while other classes may only complete one, two or three of the four elements as they see fit. For example, for the Geographical element of the programme, while the more senior classes can learn about European capitals and landmarks, the junior classes can learn about the EU flag and individual country flags. Previously, schools have completed ‘mini-studies’ based on member states that children in the class may have close association with or may be originally from.
- Will all schools be visited by a Minister, MEP, TD, Senator or member of EM Ireland?
European Movement hopes to get around to as many schools as possible during the 2013/2014 programme year. Unfortunately it is not possible for every school to facilitate a visit but we are encouraging Ministers, MEPs, TDs and Senators to visit schools in their constituency. We have also asked European Ambassadors to make themselves available for school visits.
- Do I need to have a visit/inspection to complete the programme?
No. Because it is not possible for every participating school to be visited during the year, we ask schools to take pictures of their activities/projects throughout the year and send them to us along with their final report at the end of the academic year as evidence of all your hard work!
- Can I organise my own visit?
Yes absolutely! We encourage schools to reach out to their local Ministers, TDs, Senators, MEPs and Oireachtas members and extend invitations to visit their schools. The only thing we do require is that you keep European Movement aware of any Blue Star visits taking place in your school.
- Why do we need to use IT?
When researching their projects, pupils are encouraged to use all means of technology available to them, including online resources. Previously, many projects were presented using interactive tools such as Power Point, video clips, audio clips, blogging sites and school websites. The use of technology amongst the different schools in the past has been extremely impressive and brought the goals of the Programme to life in a technological sense.
- What’s included in the resource pack?
The resource pack includes wall charts, posters and EU country guides to offer tips on the types of projects the pupils can undertake and to help guide the teachers in how best to facilitate the pupils. This material is accompanied by background material and other collateral for pupils in order to help stimulate ideas and provide guidance on suitable projects, including the new Programme element focussing on the European Parliament elections.
- What type of event do I have to have on Europe Day?
There are lots of options for Europe day event. Europe Day is a good excuse for the children and teachers to display all the Blue Star work and for the school to make a conscious effort to promote all things intercultural & European. The simple ideas for Europe Day often work the best! Schools in the past have held European food fairs, parades, photography exhibitions and plays. It is also very nice to make an effort to present the Blue Star work to a wider audience or out in the community maybe the local bank / library / County Council office.
- Why do I need to submit an Action Plan / Final Report?
Participating Blue Star schools are required to submit an Action Plan before embarking on the Blue Star programme to give European Movement, as National Coordinator, an idea of the programme your school is undertaking. More importantly, the Action Plan assists Blue Star teachers with lesson/activity planning for the year ahead. Similarly, the purpose of the Final Report is to enable us to see how you got on with the different learning modules in the Historical, Geographical, Cultural and Creative and Institutional areas. It also enables us to learn how we might improve the Programme year on year.
- Will there be training provided for teachers?
Yes. A teacher training day was provided for participating teachers in the European Parliament Information Office in Dublin during the second and third years of the Blue Star programme. European Movement intends to hold a similar training day in early 2015. Further details on this will be provided when possible.
If you have any more questions on the programme that have not been answered above, please feel free to contact Nora, the Blue Star Programme Coordinator, on 01 662 5815 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the dedicated website for more.