After various talks with educational experts working on depopulation and innovation, De Jutter began working with us – Learning Hub Friesland, a Dutch educational non-profit. They set out to find European partners to help them create innovative learning materials that take their island setting into account and bring them in contact with other island schools. This became the iSHRINK project, which in August 2020 was approved a three-year grant under the EU’s Erasmus+ program. iSHRINK aims to connect Europe’s island schools together in order to create an innovative education based around sustainability challenges. With other project partners from Iceland, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and Greece, the project will bring together the top universities to work on education and sustainability work with island schools to co-create the learning materials which place the emphasis on pupils’ active citizenship and the sustainable future of their islands. On November 30th, the kick-off meeting with our partners were held digitally.
De Jutter is a mixed primary and secondary school on the Dutch island of Vlieland – it is also the only school on the island. De Jutter offers education to around 90 students aged between 4 and 18. The school is housed in a specially designed building that was officially opened in 2016. In addition to primary and secondary education, the school also houses the island’s library, children’s daycare centre and youth centre.
Due to the diverse age range of students and the small size of the school, classes are composed of students who fall into the same phase of development rather than the same age. Although the primary school and secondary school are two distinct structures within the same school, the educational approach of the school as a whole emphasises collaboration. This means that in practice there is a great deal of interaction between the two levels.
As one of the two island schools in the Island Schools consortium, De Jutter will be a test-case and an ambassador representing fellow island schools across Europe. They’ll be building on previous experience, too – De Jutter previously led the European project “3D in Education”, which gathered many teachers and students from different schools from 6 countries, to learn about the application of 3D technology in education as well as the environment.
Pupils from De Jutter and from Astypalaia in Greece, the other partner school in the project, will get the chance to visit each other during two learning weeks, planned for 2022 and 2023. Pupils will also work with university researchers and other experts to come up with policy recommendations for the future of their islands and schools. They’ll have the chance to present these on a European level at the project’s final conference in 2023.