DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
My name is Daniele Santagati and this is the first school year that I am managing a Vocational Institute. I come from a very different school reality, and I found myself immediately involved in facing particular problems concerning students that had rarely occurred before. I would like to talk about Mariana, a Romanian girl of fifteen years old, who arrived to school with a very problematic background. She came from Romania, without the slightest knowledge of the Italian language, and a complicated family situation. She discovered an unwanted pregnancy, so she was entrusted to a foster home for the period of pregnancy and early child care. It was in the protected environment of the foster home that she learned the basics of the Italian language. The girl, Mariana, arrived at our school in September 2012. Her mother wanted her to attend school, to guarantee her a better future, but the problems of feeding the child, accompanying him to the nursery school, and other similar tasks prevented regular school attendance. It was exactly there that my intervention was crucial, ensuring the girl a school timetable flexibility which could comply with her needs as a mum. Mariana's case was then promptly reported to the Class Council to be adequately framed and contextualized, so that all the appropriate adjustments to the curriculum could be made - adjusting it on the minimum targets. It was then reported to the teacher responsible for the integration of foreigners in the school, so, in the end, the girl was able to attend our school and take lessons, do activities as well as receive language support. The problems have not been missing: actually Mariana has been absent from school several times due to her sick child - the girl lives with her mother who works and, in case of illness of the child, she can not leave him at the nursery school. The commitment of the girl at school, despite all the problems encountered, was significant. We are not sure if Mariana can pass to the next school year yet, but certainly we are confident in the opportunity we have created for this singular case. The child is almost one year old now and next year he will probably need less and less the presence of his mother, so we all hope that she can continue her schooling and take her educational qualification certificate, or even the final school leaving certificate. I believe this case is exemplar, from my point of view as executive, for the choices that I had to make as head of the school, for the commitment and personal availability to listen, for having protected and guaranteed to the foreign girl the right to education in a school that knows how to listen to the problems of users and how to find the right solutions.
- Give evidence of the possible explanation of the success:
The ability of the Headmaster to know how to frame the issues and find solutions is the key to understanding this case. The Headmaster, once he has understood the special situation of the girl, has found an administrative solution to allow the girl to follow a regular course of study, appropriate to her age.
- Analyse the interaction between the different actors involved:
Through interviews with the teachers, the family, the social worker and the girl, the manager has understood the particular situation and, applying school rules with flexibility, he has been able to ensure the underage girl regular school attendance.
- Describe the action of educational policy, either at local, regional or national level (If relevant):
Italian school, for these specific cases, does not have standard regulations, therefore adaptations to specific situations is usually left to the sensitivity of individuals: teachers and Headmasters.
- Identify and describe the potential transferability of the experience:
The experience can be repeated in all those cases in which school attendance should be ensured at underage students, trying to remove all the obstacles that may arise. It's essential to put the child in a condition to study with serenity, whatever the issues that may concern him. In this case timetable flexibility has allowed the student-mother to fulfill her duties as a mother and to be able to study in a secondary school, just like her peers.