Project  pIEO- King Baudouin Foundation Brussels

The reason for the project Innovation and Excellence in Education (pIEO) was the observation that for many students in schools with large concentrations of pupils from families with a low socio-economic status, opportunities for advancing to secondary education are far from assured. Many rely on education for the achievement of personal development. They have few other resources for achieving the strength required to open the gates that lead to secondary education.

These schools thus face a major challenge: they have many other-lingual students, pour many resources into involving parents, and are usually located in complex urban contexts or former industrial regions with a strong relation to historical migration. The teams operating at these schools are often in dire need of a second wind. Even though there are a multitude of supporting initiatives, it is still very difficult for these schools to equip their students with the skills they need to make it in secondary education.

The pIEO-project wished to change all of this. In September 2012, pIEO was initiated by the King Boudewijn Institute per request of the Flemish Minister of Education Pascal Smet. Deviating from initial plans, the pIEO project ended in June 2015. Thirteen primary schools – 3 in Ghent, Antwerp and Brussel and 4 in the Limburgian mining regions –had cooperated with the pIEO project.

During the three academic years of 2012 -2015, I guided this project. Involving many others, I worked to find ways to achieve better academic results, student wellbeing, and to engrain supportive systems in these schools. The social constructionist mind set always formed the basis for achieving a durable change approach in which appreciation of all involved was continuously prioritised.

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