Best Practice 12

Interculturality Plan (Gobierno de Cantabria)

The student body, which mainly belongs to the immigrant community, both from schools and secondary schools in Cantabria. The plan divides the student body in three groups: the bigger group consists of students who, although their mother tongue is similar to ours, present, on many occasions, learning needs derived from the cultural differences or a curriculum gap when joining their correspondent school year.

They come from Spanish-speaking countries (the 55 %), mainly from Columbia, Ecuador and, to a lesser extent, from Dominican Republic. The group coming from Russia and some other countries of East Europe (Ukraine and Moldavia) is also noteworthy. They need to learn and socialise in a second language they do not know, which implies an initial linguistic shock. However, they present a satisfactory educational level. There is another group of students who have diverse needs: linguistic, curriculum and other needs related to educational compensation.

The Interculturality Plan of the Department of Education of Cantabria, which is consistent with an intercultural approach included in the Decreto de Ordenación de la Atención a la Diversidad, supports taking action in order to respond to the needs of the immigrant student body and of ethnical minorities who are educated in educational centres. It is included in a network of activities consisting of:

  • Diversity Outreach Model
  • Interculturality Plan for Cantabria
  • Line of action to face special educational needs
  • Compensation for socio-educational handicap
  • Equality in education Awareness
  • Hospital and home educational care
  • Regional Plan for Absentee and School Drop-out Prevention

It is focused on two potential perspectives of the immigrant population: the first one considers education to be necessary to access the labour market in good conditions and it has therefore a positive view of it. The second one believes that there is little connection between the education that is provided in school centres and their own cultural identity, so they distrust the educational institution of the majority culture.

The centres cover two large areas. On the one hand, compensation efforts are currently undertaken in order to reduce the curriculum gap that a part of the student body might present. These initiatives belong to the Diversity Outreach Plans. On the other hand, the arrival of a non-Spanish-speaking student initiates measures to contribute to the learning of Spanish as second language (hereinafter L2), mainly in the last stage of Primary Education and in Secondary Education. 

Main goals:

    • To favour the inclusion of the student body that comes from different cultures and its real participation in society by supporting the actions that are developed in the centres, aimed at facilitating both their access and their stay in the educational system as well as their linguistic, academic, personal and professional progress through the recognition of the culture of origin.
    • The different administrations must commit so that the immigrant people move towards the acquisition of the citizenship status and of a real competence to be able to take part as full member in the host society, which gives them the recognition of their rights and duties as citizens who contribute to the social sustaining.
    • The access to work, to health and to education, among others, is the pillar of this project.
    • To emphasise the common elements and to give value to which is different by opting for an intercultural relationship framework from which promote the respect for all the coexistent cultures in a certain environment.
    • To agree, in each centre, on projects aimed at preventing coexistence problems and conflicts related to racist attitudes based on stereotypes.

The incorporation of these students requires the presence of a professional with specific training in the centres that carry out these intercultural revitalization tasks: the interculturality coordinator. His/her activity is focused on: collaborating in the initial valuation that ought to be carried out to facilitate the inclusion of the students; supporting the learning of a second language; strengthening the follow-up of the regular group done by the tutor; collaborating in the elaboration and selection of materials and promoting actions aimed at teaching Spanish as second language through the inclusion of the curriculum contents and those of the L2.

In addition, certain support structures must be created to offer an alternative for those students who do not receive a response from the centre’s organization itself. The measures that the present Plan includes for this purpose are:

    • Intercultural Revitalization Room (Aula de Dinamización Intercultural). It is aimed at receiving students from other cultures and responding to their educational needs. It is placed in areas that receive a significant number of foreign population and it is the link between the families that join our community and the educational and social institutions they can address to. Through this structure, the newcomer can get to know the characteristics of the educational system, the educational offering for both school-age children and their parents, and other type of services and resources they can take advantage of.
    • Interculturality Team (Equipo de Interculturalidad). It supports measures that are carried out in order to meet the needs of the students coming from other cultures and their families as well as to provide the teachers with counselling in this field in Primary Education. The Team will consist of different professionals who are to conduct their work by moving to the centres they are to assist.

There is one more professional, the cultural mediator, who has to favour the mutual knowledge and understanding among the different cultures. Thus, he/she facilitates the communication between the centre and the families and their participation in the activities of the centre; collaborates with the teachers for their culture to be recognised and valued; participates in the solving of the conflicts that might occur and in the recognition and mutual acceptance of all the families; and helps the immigrant and minority students acquire the necessary habits to facilitate their personal and social development.

For each student, the most appropriate measures have to be determined so as to meet his/her needs and an initial valuation must be done. This valuation has to collect, at least, information about their previous school transcript, their social/family context, their communicative competence in Spanish and their level of curricular competence. Actions are also taken with the rest of the students.

When the foreign student belonging to an ethnic minority joins the centre at the beginning of the school year, some activities can be carried out during the first days to favour mutual knowledge and group cohesiveness. If schooling takes place at any other time in the school year, it would be advisable to work those aspects that can favour the knowledge of the culture where this student comes from, prior to his/her incorporation to the class.

The Cantabrian plan considers family to be a decisively influential factor in the school inclusion of the foreign students or students who belong to an ethnic minority. On the one hand, the conditions with which it joins the new environment and, on the other hand, the value that education is given as an element that contributes to social improvement and inclusion.

From the centre, smooth communication channels are set with the families in order to inform them about both everything that has to do with the educational centre and system and all those training and social resources they might have access to. The priority objective is to achieve their involvement and participation in the educational process of their children and in the activities of the centre.

  • Methodologically: its curricular and organizational structure meets the needs, the interests and the motivation of the student body who presents educational compensation needs, and it introduces in the curriculum aspects of the culture, the traditions and the history of the different cultures that are present in our country, so that the students feel their culture is recognised and valued in the school setting and so that they can identify themselves with the contents and values that are conveyed. The educational institution tries to ensure that the progress of the immigrant students becomes a reality and that they are given quality attentions, just like the native students.
  • Socially: it favours equality opportunity in education and it moves, at the same time, towards their school integration, which is necessary to achieve their future labour and social inclusion. This activity has also an impact on the teachers and the families as well as in other institutions.
  • Quantitatively: it is a far-reaching plan since it has been developed by the Government of Cantabria for its overall implementation, so it includes the entire immigrant population of the educational system, to which it is oriented.

□ Children & Family Policy

□ Language Access

□ Social Cohesion & Identity

□ Education

□ Cultural awareness

□ Language Training

□ Language assessment

□ Intercultural communication

□ Study visits

□ Mentoring services

It is developed in the field of the educational system in Cantabria. It has to be implemented in every school centre of the community.

Plan de Interculturalidad del Gobierno de Cantabria

Address: C/ Calle Vargas, 53 – 39010 Santander (Cantabria)

Tel.: +34 942 20 80 80intercutlu

Email: informacion@educantabria.es

Web page: http://www.educantabria.es/