Section SOCIETY
TOPIC

MUNICIPALITY OF ATHENS

Athens Open Schools

School buildings become centres of action for the community by hosting activities for all, at no cost. At the same time, the schoolyards turn into meetings points where community members of any age can meet.

All

From November 2015- nowadays, ongoing

The Open Schools program is a City of Athens initiative, which is implemented thanks to the exclusive donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and with the coordination of the Athens Partnership. 25 schools in various neighbourhoods within the City of Athens remain open throughout the week - after-school hours and during weekends providing security, cleaning and a specific framework. The ultimate aim is that school buildings become meeting points for the benefit of the local community and invite students, teachers, parents and residents to participate in educational, cultural, sports and entertainment activities. To date, more than 20.000 citizens have been benefited from the 350 various activities.

The Open Schools program is an initiative by the City of Athens, which is implemented thanks to the exclusive donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and with the cooperation of the Athens Partnership.
In the framework of this program, the Municipality collaborates with organisations, institutions, museums, services and individuals which implement activities that are offered in Open Schools and are selected after undergoing an evaluation process. More than 120 organisations and 500 different instructors have shared their skills with the communities surrounding the 25 Open Schools. 

Athens Open Schools Program is the result of the efficient collaboration between the private and the public sector. ╬Ĺ project team comprised of six members is in charge of implementing and supporting the Open Schools program, a specific monitoring team coordinates it, various organisations of the Municipality have been activated (among those the Directorate of Education and the Long Life Learning Staff), as well as technical services. What is worth mentioning is that the Open Schools is Mayor’s priority project, run under the Vice Mayor for the Child. Furthermore, security and cleaning companies have been hired to ensure that the opening of school buildings is safe and independent from the morning operation of the school. Besides, professionals from various organisations like artists, educators, scientists, athletes, actors work to implement the activities. A working group, composed of school advisors, Primary and High School directors, professors and directors of environmental education, has been nominated in order to evaluate the activity proposals. 

25 schools, spread in all 7 Municipal boroughs, within the City of Athens 
 

1) School community:
• Parents and Guardians Association
• Teachers' Association
• Student’s community - Student council
The way the school community sees the local school has changed for the positive, as has the number of activities that members of the community can participate in. More than 300 activities have been implemented in the framework of the program. 

2) Beneficiaries of activities:
• Children-43%
• Teens-8%
• Adults-19%
• All-30%
The families of the direct beneficiaries (ie. activity participants) also benefit from the program, as it offers opportunities for leisure time, while also offering a space (open and lit schoolyards) for free play. 
The most popular activities are those in the category of education including technology such as social entrepreneurship seminars, robotics workshops, music training seminars and 3D printing.
The activity categories, are:
• Education: 46% (including technology activities)
• Culture: 22%
• Recreation: 22%
• Sports: 9%
In addition, there are activities responding to real social needs and are addressed to all specific target groups:
• Refugees
• Immigrants
• People with disabilities
• Children in the spectrum of autism
• Pregnant women
• Grandchildren with grandparents

3) Partners- Collaborating Organizations: Open Schools become a place of creative expression for partners and collaborators who have the opportunity to implement activities in different neighbourhoods of Athens and share their work with a new audience.

4) Society: Residents of the local communities not participating in the activities, experience the positive effects of open schools as many interventions have been made in the school environment. In addition, the opening of schools and the increase in the people hanging out in the school environment, has increased security in certain neighbourhoods. 

5) Municipalities - Schools: The Open Schools program is a good practice that schools and municipalities inside and outside the Attica region want to adopt. In the last three years, more than 10 municipalities and schools in Greece have contacted the Project Team in order to find out more about the program, how it came about and how it can be replicated. 

From the participants feedback, additional positive outcomes can be extracted:  
• New knowledge
• Creative use of leisure time
• Meeting new people with common interests
• Acquiring experience
• Exchange of experiences
• Accurate information
• Getting acquainted with scientifically qualified people in the field
• Pleasant environment

The Municipality of Athens through the Open Schools Program:

• Has a more direct presence in the local communities.
• It uses school buildings for activity hosting and as venues in the City of Athens where there is a lack of open and public spaces. The 25 schoolyards take the form of "neighbourhood squares" for the benefit of all residents
• Covers a need of the school communities to use school buildings beyond their regular use, in a coordinated and secure manner 
• Cooperates and collaborates with private organizations and individuals.
• Communicates with other Municipalities and transmits the know-how of the program.
• Has succeeded in coordinating the teaching staff of schools, Parents' Associations and Guardians, School Committees and the Municipality through the Vice- Mayor for the Child.
• A large percentage of beneficiaries have recognized the success of the program by indicating that Open Schools are an excellent and innovative initiative of the Municipality. In particular, the evaluations result in the following measurable results:
• 89.12% of the participants evaluate the Open Schools activities from excellent to very good
• 83.6% of participants intend to participate in other activities of the program in the future
• 88,05% of the participants consider that the communication and cooperation with the Open Schools coordinators is excellent to very good