For many years Vasari Secondary School has been committed to promoting learning activities dedicated to inclusion as well as the development of transversal skills for a better employability of our students, complying to the policy of the School Reform that fosters work-based learning. Our school is not merely a place where notions are learnt, but rather where students are assisted in becoming independent and self-sufficient individuals, each with his/her personality, formed around a solid cultural core. On the firm belief that diversity strengthens individuals, and therefore the community, our school has always promoted an understanding and appreciation of diversity in all forms as an integral and vital part of school life. This is why Vasari School is proposing a complex education project to form students globally as active citizens that can deal with diversity and disadvantages also in a European dimension. The teachers too have empowered their competence by participating in various projects and training courses both in Italy and abroad.
For all these reasons and to favour access to the world of work, it is essential to adopt new active-learning methods and new technological tools, closer to the world of young people and vital for the development of transversal skills, aligned to the requirements of the European Key Skills. To share all this with European partners is crucial for the development of this rationale.
Vasari School is a Secondary Institute providing access to Higher Education and to the world of work. It was founded as Istituto Tecnico per Geometri (Technical Institute for Surveyors) in 1967 and in time other courses were added: IGEA (Technical Institute for Accountants), Liceo Scientifico (an academically oriented secondary school), Professional Institute for Catering and Reception, Technical Institute for Agriculture and Evening Courses for adults. There are currently more than 1,200 pupils enrolled and staff is of a high professional level. All our courses are the outcome of careful local needs analysis and a rewarding synergy with the surrounding territory. Due to its location, the Vasari Institute has become the core of a network of schools in the Valdarno area, in the provinces of both Florence and Arezzo.
In all its courses our school provides a range of projects and opportunities for students to fulfil their potential and achieve their personal best, with support and follow-up activities as well as the promotion of academic excellence and success. We have important projects involving disadvantaged pupils, with disabilities and/or with special learning needs, as well as for foreign students. The aim of these projects is to prevent early school-leaving and to remove any obstacles that may hinder the full development of the individual.
In response to the educational needs of our students, the Vasari Institute acts as a “bridge” between Primary Education and University, elaborating shared vertical curricula to align curriculum across different school grades. In 2011 a Technical Scientific Committee was set up to survey the educational needs of our pupils. The main categories of the world of labour and local entrepreneur groups are represented, for example Confindustria (Italian Confederation of Industry), Confesercenti (ItalianConfederation of Traders and Hotel Owners) and Coldiretti (Italian Association of Farmers). The University of Florence is also represented, thus making the Committee a strategic observation point providing constant feedback on the professional skills and knowledge required both by the labour market and by Higher Education. In compliance to the guidelines of all these important partners the Assembly of Teachers has modified teaching methods to align them to the requirements of the world of work.
The use of innovative technology is an important aspect of our school policy and since 2011 the School Board has invested resources in new computers, software and interactive white-boards to support active learning (or “in-laboratory learning”) and thereby enhance the potential of each student.
The Vasari Institute:
- boosts linguistic competence to achieve certification in foreign languages and empowers computing skills with the achievement of ECDL qualification;
- promotes work-based learning projects and programmes with professional internships in Italy and abroad;
- has had since 2010 a consolidated experience in Mobility programmes in European projects such as the six fluxes of LEONARDO, with which groups of pupils of the Professional Course (including differently-abled students) attended language courses and carried out professionalizing internships in Sweden, Spain and Northern Ireland;
- carried out IN.SU.PER. AB.I.L.E., a project funded by Camera di Commercio (Board of Trade) which took students from the Technical Course and Liceo to England for summer work-experience placements;
- completed similar activities in Malta, Spain and England in 2011/2012 and 2012/13;
- sent four classes of various courses on internships to Spain thanks to transnational mobility promoted by the Tuscan Region in 2012/2013;
- took part in an exchange programme with a high school of Bastia, Corsica (Lycée Giocante de Casablanca) last year;
- is currently partner in the 2-year Comenius project “Democratic Values and Linguistic Diversity”, with 5 European partners;
- has won the Erasmus+ KA1- Learning Mobility of Individuals with the Project G.A.L.I.L.E.O. which deals with work-based learning and the prevention of early school-leaving, providing training courses and job-shadowing in partner countries for 18 teachers in the period 2014-2016;
- has been since 2014 the lead partner of the "Polo Tecnico Professionale Hotellerie Beni Culturali e Turismo" (Technical Professional Centre for Hotel Industry, Historic and Artistic Heritage and Tourism) which comprises 30 private and public stakeholders and is committed to the experimentation promoted by the Tuscan Region on active and work-based learning, complementary IeFP (Professional Education and Training System) and apprenticeship.
Vasari School has always aimed at inclusion and intercultural integration and Staff members have a solid understanding, knowledge and experience of the needs and requirements of the disabled and disadvantaged. We have a high percentage of differently-abled pupils, currently 65 out of 1,203 students, and lately there has been an increase in the number of students with DSA (105 with Learning Difficulties) and with BES (48 with Special Learning Needs). For this reason we have a strong team of support teachers that cooperate constantly with the class teachers to plan and carry out Individualized Education Programmes. Thanks to projects like A.bil.Mente, Disco and PEZ, a number of students with disabilities has achieved a Regional Qualification as Catering Assistant, thus enhancing their employability. These projects were accomplished in a network with other secondary schools in the province of Florence and with the collaboration of the local Authorities, the local Health Services (ASL10) and with various Associations dealing with disadvantaged people, with the intent to favour the development of basic key skills and increase the employability of these students.
Project activities for Foreigners: about 14% of our students are of foreign origin and our school offers courses such as A.LI.S.E.I. and S.A.L.V.E. to provide linguistic support and favour their social integration.
An important part of school activities are dedicated to solidarity and volunteer work, through projects such as “Waiting Time”, promoted by the Town Hall of Figline and Incisa Valdarno, the local Health Services of Florence and the Association of Hospital Volunteers (AVO), to help patients at Serristori Hospital in Figline read books and consult multimedia materials. The teachers and students involved in this project have published ”Gocce di memorie”, memoirs of patients in hospital and in the Old Age Home “Martelli” of Figline. Every year the Vasari Institute takes part in the activities of “Dynamo Camp” in Pistoia, promoted by Unicoop, where methods, instruments and ideas to help children with serious and/or chronic illnesses are experimented. On 4/5 March 2015 our school organized a convention, “Education Paths in Catering Schools for the Integration of Differently-Abled Pupils”, in collaboration with the National Network of Catering Schools (RE.NA.I.A.), of which the Institute is member. For many years differently-abled pupils of our school have entered regional competitions for Waiters, Cooks and Tourist Reception personnel, for instance the competition “Around the Same Table " ( "Insieme a tavola”, Castefiorentino, 27 November 2014). During the “Tirreno CT Fair” (Carrara, 26 February 2015) our differently-abled students had the chance to run the restaurant inside the fair. With the development of work-based learning paths, we now have a group of teachers dealing with the work placement of disadvantaged pupils in various enterprises.
There is a strong bond with the local territory, which Vasari School knows well and promotes through the following activities: the official travel Guidebook of Figline written in Italian and English by our students and published with the cooperation of the Town Hall; “Indò Valdarno”, guided tours of the historic centres of the Valdarno area conducted by pupils in Italian, English, French and German; “Walking Around Figline”, guided tours in the historic centre of Figline conducted by our students in Italian, English, French and German; "Young Travellers – Your Idea of Business”, work-based learning activity to create e portal promoting sustainable and responsible tourism for young people. These last two projects are renewed every year and approved in the Vasari P.O.F. (the Educational Policy and Planning of our school), like the projects that led to the following publications: "The Squares of the Valdarno" and "The Romanique Parishes of the Valdarno". In these projects the pupils of the Technical Course survey the local heritage to prepare themselves as future operators of the local territory that appreciate and defend their past. Currently they are working on the survey of historical buildings. Other publications include the two volumes on the names of streets in Figline written by students of the Liceo: "Una via, un nome, un perché", the result of a collection of testimonials by the citizens of Figline.