Erasmus +

“Octave - give children a voice” (Comenius 2013 - 2015)

The Project will increase participation and involvement of students in their own learning and encourage pupils to assert their right to have their voice heard. The rationale is based on the new European Convention of the Rights of the Child.







give children a voice

The Project will be loosely based around the musical Octave, and each activity and visit will be planned around one letter or note. Each note will represent a theme, focussing on each time on the voice of the child.

C-Contribution, D-Diversity, E- Expression, F-Friendship, G-Gifted and Talented, A-Assertiveness, B-Building Bridges, C-Celebration of Pupil Voice (= “octave)

The new European Convention has given inputs to the need to increase participation by children in their own learning and this applies equally to children in mainstream and special schools. Increased participation and developing confident self expression will eventually have a positive effect upon independence, entrepreneurial and vocational skills and reduce the need for support in the community and in the workplace.

Challenges to the future well being of our communities both local, regional, national and European can be addressed by increasing cooperation and contact between those institutions, primed by a successful multilateral partnership.
Ethnic minority student numbers are increasing and whilst this is not necessarily an indicator of a lack of educational ambition or motivation, when coupled with special needs, increasing challenges are often evident. Social cohesion for such groups is aided by greater self expression  and the project will address this issue directly and indirectly through teaching children to understand and use their own voice to increase their own participation in and out of school.
The rights of the child as expressed in the Convention are of little importance unless children have the skills and knowledge about how to make best use of them. The fact that the Convention uses such powerful  language and applies across Europe, provides a good opportunity to promote collaboration across our schools in the implementation of the Convention,

The project will also encourage teachers to understand the importance of the voice of the child and how this can be harnessed to improve participation in learning.

The project contributes to the citizenship agenda, encouraging children and young people to be active participants in their communities and to understand how these communities interact with their neighbours in Europe. We also recognise that the voice of the child is not only important in school, but should be recognised and celebrated in the community. Opportunities will be provided to show the community the positive impact of this greater participation so it may continue to be celebrated in adult life.

All of the schools participating understand that their own institutions need to develop and enhance this area of their work, and to enshrine student voice in the ethos of their schools.

Schools involved in the project are currently exploring ways of increasing involvement, motivation and vocational competencies for young people who are in care, as this group are statistically under-represented in employment and overrepresented in some of the schools. Examples of good practice with other hard to reach students will be shared and disseminated.
To encourage our learning communities to value the voice of the child across the educational spectrum.
Strategies will be utilised during the project, and not only when visits are taking place. The strategies will be enshrined in the weekly activities for the children and skills will be regularly practiced so that they become generalised.

Strategies are exemplified as:

  • Classroom observation
  • Use of the Arts, including Music and Drama, to develop confidence in participation and self expression
  • Joint training sessions for partner schools

For students directly:

  • Student visits to take part in activities jointly planned by partner schools and the pupils in them, based around Arts projects 
  • Independent travel skills increased commensurate with the abilities of the individual students
  • Targetted communication sessions for those who find this difficult, including signing and electronic aids to promote their independent voice
  • Use of materials and activities in Arts where the students have no history of failure.

The Project will be loosely based around the musical Octave, and each activity and visit will be planned around one letter or note. Each note will represent a theme, focussing on each time on the voice of the child.


Partner 1 - Wexford, Ireland

Our Lady of Fatima is a special school setting that caters for students with mild general learning difficulties but their needs are becoming more complex. In addition the school educates pupils on the autistic spectrum and a number who have visual-sensory and /or physical impairments. Our Lady of Fatima school encourages respect and care for the individual in a safe learning environment. In doing so a huge emphasis is placed on the needs of the individual through the development of Individual Learning Plans that would pertain to each students requirements.

The school has a well developed entrepreneurial strand which allows for design, production and marketing. Projects include art, music and digital media creations.
The school has been successful in winning National awards for this.

Our Lady of Fatima school serves the South East region of Ireland.
The students that attend our school come from low income, deprived families. Many suffer social exclusion and some are in foster care.  The school has a growing contingent for ethnic minorities.
At present the school has 109 students enrolled with a staff of 24.
Our Lady of Fatima school has been involved in a previous Comenius project. This was a successful experience for both staff and students. As the students in our school feel marginalised in society, the Comenius experience gave them an opportunity to feel part of their local environment coupled with the wider European community.

An opportunity to engage in another project would further enhance the scope of our student’s potential and increase their awareness of being part of the European community.
Our Lady of Fatima School will be Deputy Coordinators for this project.

We believe that being part of this project, the Voice of The Child would enable our students to express themselves in a self advocating manner.
By undertaking this Comenius project, it will assist us in our personal development and equip our students with a skill set to express themselves in an independent and confident manner.


Partner 2 - Poole, UK

Montacute Trust School serves three local authorities, meeting the needs of up to 75 students with severe or profound learning difficulties. Montacute is an outstanding school with a pedigree for inclusion, training for mainstream teachers,parents, and working with children in mainstream schools who have special needs. The school also has a well developed vocational strand which enables to finance, design, produce and market goods as a business, and has won regional awards for this work.
The school has almost 100 staff and many teachers are involved in the training of other teachers. Montacute has also coordinated two other successful Comenius projects.
Contextually, one third of our children are from one parent families. This is largely due to the pressure placed on families to provide ongoing support for their child. Nationally parents of such children are more likely to fall into poverty than others, because of support demands and decreasing support from the community. The school has a small but increasing Polish contingent and has responded by employing two Polish staff to ease community cohesion and communication.
Many students leave the school at 19 years old and are considered unsuitable for employment because of their disabilities.  This challenges their self esteem and promotes a deficit model of disability in the community. The project will particularly help the community to see the contribution our students can make to social and community cohesion.


Partner 3 - Hürth, D

We at the DKS have made excellent experiences with Comenius School Partnerships and associated with many European pupils and colleagues are still in contact. 'Old' partner schools attend as our school in Advent, we hold soccer tournaments, etc. from. At our school the Comenius thought is deeply rooted in people's minds. Know by now (almost) all pupils, which means Comenius and appreciate the great cooperation. Without a dissenting vote was agreed that we apply for another mulitlaterale school project. We look back now on intensive, constructive and positive experience and not want to miss this. The College supported each other in the integration and implementation of our European cooperation in school life. The appreciation experienced by our students by funding a project is enormous. As Comenius presenter I am also well informed and still interested in that European projects like Comenius project, to be carried out. In our schedule, we offer a European workshop and  during the practice day 2 hours a week ´European collaberation' for several years . The knowledge of a common Europe is an integral part in our daily school together. Finally here is the concept of inclusion his 'real' implementation. For the next years we will focus our view - together with our students - on the importance of the voice of a child that will allow for freedom of self- expression and the development of independence.

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