Leiria, Portugal: Agrupamento de Escolas Dr Correia Mateus

Our school is situated in Leiria, which is in the centre of Portugal, about 120kms from Lisbon, 50kms from Coimbra and 10 from the Atlantic Ocean. The school has a large variety of students, most of whom are from working class families. In many cases they are low-income families and receive social assistance. This reflects on the students' attitude towards school, who are often a bit disinterested. Many don't have an ideal attitude, although they are somewhat easy to deal with, since the majority tends to accept the teachers' indications. There are also many immigrants in this area and so we have students from many latitudes. This makes the school environment a diverse thing and this enriches the children's experience there. The number of children with disabilities is also considerable: there are dyslexia and other speech disorders; there are some hyperactive children; there are other children with larger physical or psychological problems. Our school projects tend to pay attention to these kids and give them opportunities to feel integrated.

Having all this into consideration, we think that providing our students with an opportunity to exchange their experience with people from other countries, while getting to know more about their own cultures/traditions, would greatly enlarge their ideas. They can also improve their knowledge of foreign languages, sciences, maths, and arts, in the spirit of communication between nations which should underlie European culture. The Comenius school project provides the ideal opportunity to harness an enhanced level of interest in national and European values and cultures, involving both the school and the community. We want students to learn about the culture and customs of other countries, to experiment all their traditions and so develop intercultural competence and the recognition of individual differences.

Our school has extensive experience in international projects due to participation in several international partnerships within and outside the European Union.

We have experience in involving community institutions in the school in order to development projects or topics that are interesting to our school. We keep a close relationship with the community.

People directly involved in the partnership come from areas / subjects very different, such as: Physical Education, Mathematics, Geography, History, English and French. As we are a large group we easily involved the whole school community (students and teachers) because this is a very important project at school.

In our projects we have worked with with almost all the Europeans countries: Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Ireland, England, Finland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Cyprus and Danmark.