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Partnerships for pathways to Higher Education and science engagement in Regional Clusters of Open Schooling

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PHERECLOS (Partnerships for pathways to Higher Education and science engagement in Regional Clusters of Open Schooling)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-09-30

PHERECLOS builds upon the theory of science capital and the experience that Children’s Universities (CUs) have made in developing and promoting the Third Mission of universities. With their engagement with children and young people, notably in a STEAM context, they became intermediaries between various actors in the educational landscape. As translators of the concerns, messages and knowledge of other parties (incl. business and industry, the state, civic society organizations etc.) they help to dismantle institutional boundaries of universities towards a wider society. Within the PHERECLOS approach, the institutional learning generated from CUs as “agents of change” – also with particular focus on first generation students, social inclusion and gender issues – was taken further. PHERECLOS tries to enable schools to become hubs of the educational landscape in their nearby surrounding and to foster the formation of innovative forms of collaboration between various knowledge providers at the overlapping edges of formal and non-formal education.
The LECs (Local Education Cluster) are incubators for enabling a dialogue between various parties and helped to set up joint activities in education and to develop collaborative learning environments as experimental testbeds for schools. At the same time they impact on the quality of science engagement opportunities in STEAM in these areas.
A targeted Transnational Education Mentoring Programme (TEMP), which was available for 10 partnerships between additional 40 organisations in the field of STEAM engagement, helped to leverage the impact, to expand the institutional learning and to pilot innovation in education.
Despite the limitations for the entire education sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic, PHERCLOS managed to achieve all milestones and planned output during the project lifespan.
After thorough preparation, the project has established six LECs, which bring together schools and further relevant actors in education during a pilot phase of 18 months. Already during the pilot phase, all six LECs gathered a total of 355 different institutions, including universities, schools, business and industry, non-profit organisations, local authorities, governmental institutions and others. More than 1.200 teachers, 2.400 parents, almost 500 academic researchers and more than 150 teacher training students were directly involved as stakeholders in these pilot initiatives, which were addressing almost 10.000 pupils during the initial phase.
The formation of the LECs was based on comprehensive workplans that were co-created in a collaborative process among all LEC associates. They include all roles, responsibilities and expected contributions during the pilot implementations phase and represent a joint agreement.
The entire process was constantly informed by targeted tools and instruments, which were developed from the perspective of academic implementation research, like checklists and guidelines, as well as workshops, webinars and bilateral counselling. The same was provided from an advocacy perspective, which makes sure that all stakeholder positions (including teachers, school heads, teacher training students, parents and pupils) are properly addressed in the formation of the LECs. Supportive in this regard is a set of (initial) Briefing Papers which were developed and disseminated in order to support awareness raising among relevant stakeholder groups.
Moreover, the entire process was informed by a compilation of 63 inspirational cases of practise, which have already proven efficient and impactful in Open Schooling. These cases are analysed further and are made available online as a relevant resource for the wider interested public.
The individual and institutional learning was thoroughly captured and translated into specific toolkits, which are well proven and support instruments derived from OS practise. Hence, they are capable to support the formation of other Local Education Clusters in other contexts and helpful for promoting and scaling up Open Schooling as a model in general. These instruments are, the Teacher Training Innovation Toolkit on Open Schooling, the Advocacy Toolkit for school leaders and teachers and the Open Schooling Policy Recommendation Brief. Moreover, the Sustained Modelling and Scenario Building Reference Guide includes a reflection and analysis of practical experience from the 6 model LECs – and translates into a guiding framework of “12 Factors of Success”, a “LEC Logbook” and “9 Reference Points for Implementation” which can help to guide other OS initiatives sharing PHERECLOS outcomes.

All these tools and even more supporting material are available on

As the central vehicle for dissemination, the PHERECLOS White Book on Open Schooling Education Clusters examines collaboration in education from various perspectives and provides a snapshot of the current state of affairs in Open Schooling. The White Book was presented and discussed at the PHERECLOS Final Conference “The Lay of the Land” in Bucharest/Romania from Sept 7th-9th 2022.
PHERECLOS promotes the dimension of Local Education Clusters in all their manifold facets and their catalyzing role relating to access to STEAM and higher education, critical thinking and informed decision making in a wider societal context – including competitiveness and sustainable growth. This approach of Open Schooling enable schools to become hubs of community well-being and to better respond to the current “learning crisis”, where more and more young people leave school without appropriate life skills.
In face of these challenges, the proponents of the PHERECLOS approach consider it as inevitably relevant to create ecosystems of education in order to pave “pathways to success” and to be more responsive to societal needs and the demands of the innovation systems and labour market – facilitated by social inclusion as a strategy to improve opportunities.
At the end of the project, monitoring data reveals that PHERELCOS has fully achieved its objectives in terms of defined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The PHERECLOS approach as a whole has laid the foundation for a sustainable exploitation of the resources and structures that were established and piloted during the past 36 months. All in all, a total of 608 institutions – of which 46 universities and 414 schools - have actively embarked on a collaborative model of Open Schooling. More than 15.000 pupils have already benefitted from these pilot initiatives so far and this was only the effect of the initial formation. There is strong commitment on the side of existing LEC and TEMP associates to continue the collaboration even beyond the projects lifespan – and still new institutions and individuals are joining the existing groups. These innovative structures would not be in place in this well concerted and agreed form without the PHERECLOS project. This can be taken as a first proof of efficiency and speaks for the sustainability of the PHERECLOS approach.
In order to build upon the output, a group of nine other “sister projects” which are funded under the “Open Schooling” strand in H2020 had gathered as OStogether already in early 2021, with the PHERECLOS consortium as co-founder. The groups has joined forces in order to maximise the impact of dissemination, collecting the outcomes in order to maintain the momentum that was gained for pushing the Open Schooling agenda.
PHERECLOS Consortium