The Holistic Competence Model for Schools has the mission to support the gradual and systematic development of all lifelong learning and personal development competences (including multimodal, multilingual, and multicultural literacy competence, civic competence, social, collaborative, personal, and learning to learn competence, entrepreneurial competence, and competences in STEM) in Bulgaria.
It offers a holistic paradigm, engaging children and young people, as well their caregivers and their educators, and empowers students to be active, impactful, and constructive members of all communities they feel their belong to.
The main purpose of the Model is to support Bulgarian schools in applying a holistic approach in developing their students’ key competences by integrating the entire curriculum from primary school to high school and by engaging all members of the school community.
“The model is very good and I highly recommend it to every school. If someone asks me why they should use it, I would say – you will get motivated teachers out of it. The process of creating the vision together also gives the sense of ownership to the team of teachers and that way they are not working on something that the principal has singlehandedly given them to work on, but rather perceive it as a team effort.”
— Emilia Ivanova, principal of 90 SOU “General Jose de San Martin” in Sofia
More specifically, the Model aims to support schools in:
- …creating, implementing, and updating their own visions for integrating the school curriculum and content with a focus on the key competences for lifelong learning and personal development and for establishing interdisciplinary connections between the different subject areas;
- …planning and conducting lessons aimed at developing students’ key competences in the everyday educational process;
- …creating and applying its own system for measuring student progress on the key competences with a minimal load for individual teachers;
- …attract parents as active and vital partners in the educational process for the personal development of their children;
- …building strong school communities, which unites all members (i.e. students, staff, and parents) with a common purpose and a shared responsibility in developing the student’s key competences.
- …developing and applying procedures for support and peer learning in the school staff.
The Holistic Competence Model for Schools was developed by experts from the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre and tested in cooperation with 90 SOU “General Jose de San Martin” in Sofia between March 2020 and July 2021. According to an external impact assessment analyst, during the testing period students developed almost all competences chosen by the teachers, with highest achievements in their teamwork, communicational, and tolerance competencies. The key factors that led to these results were the increased collaboration between the students themselves, as well as the example of collaboration set by their teachers, who followed a common educational vision and implemented an increased amount of lessons, school projects, and other similar activities in teams.
„…We as colleagues are like a good class and students see that. When they see that we are human and we make mistakes, set examples, talk their language – that helps with the creation of this environment and our success…“
— Maria Asenova, Spanish language teacher in 90 SOU “General Jose de San Martin” in Sofia
The teachers add that the students have developed a strong sense of responsibility to their own learning and have increased their motivation to learn as a whole. The children and youngsters liked the activities they participated in, mostly because of the various interactive tasks and projects and the autonomy, which they received during classwork. The overall sense of community increased, especially when it comes to partnering with parents. A key factor for this was the school vision, which the teachers developed collaboratively, thus setting a common direction.
„…You have to be many steps ahead from yourself and the kids you are going to work with in order to anticipate reactions and situations. But you also need your colleagues. You can’t do this alone. I now know this. If what you are trying to build and do in class is not done by the others as well, you will not succeed. You all need to be looking in the same direction to be able to change something. To me, the success was that we had a joint vision and felt we have so much in common.”
— Krastina Ivanova, Bulgarian language and literature teacher in 90 SOU “General Jose de San Martin” in Sofia
As a result of the testing phase, the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre team created a handbook for applying the model (currently available only in Bulgarian), which illustrates in detail all practical steps for integrating the key competences with the Bulgarian school curriculum in a holistic, systematic, and a multidisciplinary manner with the active participation of all members of the school community. The handbook contains some pedagogical theory, practical examples, and the stories of individual teachers, illustrating their challenges, successes, and inexhaustible spirit. In addition, it references lesson plans, competence assessment tools, and other educational materials, created by teachers from all across Bulgaria. Last but not least, the handbook describes in detail all workshop activities that the 90 SOU staff went through to apply the model, so that any school can develop and implement its own version of the Model, tailored to the needs and preferences of its students and staff.
The next step of this initiative will be to create a national network of schools that apply the Holistic Competence Model, learn from, and inspire each other. Stay tuned for more.