Scan Magazine, Issue 83, December 2015

Page 64

Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Efterskoler – Uniquely Danish

Overcoming reading difficulties and making friends for life With just 65 students, Ryå Efterskole becomes an intimate, tight-knit community every year. Located in northern Jutland, Denmark, Ryå helps young people who have dyslexia or other reading and spelling difficulties attain tools and methods to make learning much more accessible and fun. By Louise Older Steffensen | Photos: Ryå Efterskole “We’re a small school with just 65 students. This allows the staff to get really close to the individual students. We’re always there for them, and we can really give them the time and support that they need,” the school’s principal Holger Juul Nielsen says. “When we founded the school in 2003, we were a bunch of teachers who had decades of experience in the efterskole world,” he explains, “and we wanted to use our skills to help young people gain confidence in their abilities and become wellrounded citizens in the modern world.” The teachers use digital and audio programmes designed for users with dyslexia and teach their students how to use these programmes efficiently in future learning scenarios. “We also employ a lot of visuals and discussion in the classroom, and we adapt the tools and teaching styles to each student’s specific needs.”

Danish, English, mathematics, science and human science make up the core curriculum. “We show students that of course they can thrive in these subjects and take on further academic education.” Another subject, Life, investigates society and citizenship, reflecting the values and skills picked up from living with others at the school. “Everyone is here for similar reasons and has similar goals, and that certainly helps them in making friends for life,” Nielsen says. Most importantly, Ryå offers the full efterskole experience: the long list of creative and practical subjects includes everything from media studies, drama and jewellery making to farming, outdoor sports and mechanics, letting students discover new talents and friends in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

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Something to talk about Gribskov Boarding School is situated in Northern Zealand, surrounded by forests and the sea. It houses 107 pupils in class levels nine and ten. The facilities are continuously modernised and a new activity hall is currently being built to accommodate the many physical activities on offer. Students choose between two programmes, both of which include plenty of digital learning and creativity. By Sara Asoka Paulsen | Photos: Gribskov Efterskole

Each student borrows a tablet from the school to keep throughout their stay and, instead of writing reports about chemistry, the pupils film their experiments. “We have seen an increase in our pupils’ scholastic levels due to the digital learning methods we have implemented in our education,” says principal Søren Møller. 64 | Issue 83 | December 2015

The digital learning aspect is also apparent in the media programme. Imagine getting to know all about film and photography and then getting the opportunity to use your newly acquired skills in Berlin, Copenhagen and New York. That is what the pupils at the media programme will experience, in addition to practising their photo skills in the local surroundings. The outdoor programme is made up of a wide range of nature-related activities such as mountain biking, climbing and kayaking. Pupils on this course get to experience the wild, breathtaking nature of Iceland, skiing in Norway, and canoeing in Sweden. The many trips are exciting as well as enlightening. Students at the school stay in mixed student halls with rooms separated by gender, and everyone eats together in the common

dining room. This helps to ensure that they make friends with other students and learn from each other. “The two programmes allow the students to exchange exciting stories. When one group returns home from a school trip abroad, the other team awaits with greetings and flags,” says Møller. This gesture, he insists, is what the school really is all about.

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