We have students living in apartment blocks as well as houses and there are many different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds represented among our students.
There are approximately 680 students at Hedegaardsskolen. 600 students attend regular classes from grade 0-9, and 32% of the students are bilingual with Danish as their second language. Besides the regular classes, the school also have four special classes for students with ADHD, three classes for students with autism and three classes for students, whose Danish is not good enough yet to attend regular classes. The Danish name for these classes does not directly translate well into English, so in the context of this project I will refer to them as “Welcoming classes”.
In accordance with our aim to ensure equal opportunities and education for all our students, we, as well as the other three schools in the Municipality of Ballerup, work towards the following goals:
• all students experience optimal learning • everybody contributes to the community in school • the school masters innovation
We are 80 teachers together with 15 pedagogues at the school and 20 leisure-time teachers working at the after school activity center. Besides, the school counts a speech therapist, two school nurses and a guidance teacher focusing on further education opportunities after secondary school. Furthermore, we have teachers specialised in different areas functioning as consultants for/to other teachers and pedagogues. We count one international coordinator, four reading consultants, two mathematics consultants, three teachers/coordinators skilled in teaching Danish as a second language and one teaching consultant focusing on different teaching methods, organising and content ideas. We also have three inclusion consultants focusing on the wellbeing of all students offering guidance and supervision to teachers and pedagogues as well as motivation conversations with students. Lastly we have a psychologist, a preventative social worker and pedagogical consultant affiliated with the school giving teachers as well as pedagogues the opportunity to arrange consultations in an anonymous forum about different matters concerning the students. We want to enhance our sociological and cultural understanding of the differences we meet, which is one of the reason to why we are excited to be part of the project “Welcoming ethnic diversity in school”.
At Hedegaardsskolen all our staff are familiar with different kinds of diversities, including ethnic diversity, in the classroom, and we make all our decisions based on the principle of inclusion which motivates a huge focus on differentiated teaching using learning strategies such as cooperative learning and language based teaching.
The welcoming classes in Ballerup are all located at Hedegaardsskolen. The diversity among the students in the welcoming classes alone are not only shown in their different ethnical backgrounds but also in their experiences with school systems and life in general. The reasons to why they are here differ; some are here because of the free movement of workers, some have residency in the country, some are here as a result of family reunification, and some are refugees. The quantity and quality of education that have been available to these students prior to the education being facilitated at Hedegaardsskolen also vary both content-wise and culture-wise. In addition to this, some students are illiterate.
Our main focus at Hedegaardsskolen is to seek what is common to all mankind and encourage all students to be curious about each others’ ways of understanding and meeting the world. We try to address issues and challenges looking at them from a common to all mankind’s perspective first, and secondly taking possible/potential additional knowledge about matters like ethnicity, diagnoses, family affairs and life experiences in general into account.
At Hedegaardsskolen we have great interest in working with the international dimension and the Municipality of Ballerup in general is focusing on international partnerships both inside and outside of Europe in order for the children and young people to be educated properly so they can take on the role of future international citizens. Hedegaardsskolen has participated in different projects cooperating with different schools around the world to explore cultural differences, share visions and learn from each other. During the last 15 years, we have engaged in different projects: • Erasmus project with Spain entitled “Healthy young minds” • letter writing (students) and exchanging teaching ideas with schools in Scotland • exchange projects with schools in China and Germany.
Kisa Øhrgaard Laursen and Peter Wichmann are the key persons involved in this current project “Welcoming ethnic diversity in school”. Kisa teaches Danish, English, Religion and PE, and she is an inclusion consultant. Peter teaches Math, English, Arts, Design and innovation, and he is the international coordinator at the school.