An interview with our Erasmus+ R.E.S.P.E.C.T. teacher guests


The second year of our Erasmus+ KA2 project R.E.S.P.E.C.T. has started with a meeting held in Helsingin Uusi yhteiskoulu, Finland in mid-September. Among hard work and the planning of this year’s activities we wanted to ask our international guests a few questions.

Team Gran Canaria Spain, Arabela & Carmen



What makes you do these international projects?

Our project coordinator, Carmen: “Because I am a masochist! It is a lot of work, but I do it because of the impact these projects have on people on all levels, because of the contacts between colleagues and personal growth. We are a good team!”

What were your first impressions about Helsinki and Finland?

Arabela: “Helsinki reminds me of Berlin, it is modern, peaceful and quiet, people are friendly. And it not as cold as I expected.” ( I must say, even the weather improved with the arrival of our guests.)

Favourite sight? Carmen and Arabela: “Porvoo! We could move here.”

Team Germany, Klaus & Franz


What would you take from Finland to your country and vice-versa?

Franz and Klaus: “I would take your school system. You don’t divide pupils as early as we do in Germany but teach everybody the same. Everything is modern and efficient here, you can pay everywhere with credit card and everybody speaks English.”

Franz: “I would give you our cheaper prices!”

Team Poland, Ewa & Barbara


Your first impressions of Finland and Finns?

Ewa and Barbara: “Beautiful airport, music at the airport train station, it is quiet everywhere.” “Finnish people are calm and speak with a quiet voice. The school is modern and well organised, all tools and equipment are good.

Favourite sight? Not able to decide 🙂  (Porvoo?)

Team Iceland, Rima and Victoria


Rima has spent eight months in Joensuu during her studies, and naturally she loves Finland. “Amazing country, friendly and orderly people.”

Favourite place? Allas sea pool and sauna.

Victoria is a Swede living in Vik, Iceland. Her first impression of Finland was, “This is like Sweden, my home! I miss home.” “I like your school food, it is healthy.”

Team Greece, Emilia and Vassilios


Emilia and Vassili: ” Finland is a green country, excellent airport, good transportation, roads are wide, great infrastructure and a friendly atmosphere in the school.”

Did you learn any Finnish during your stay?

Emilia: “TULOSTA”

Your favourite place during the visit?

Emilia: “Your school. I like your school.”

Vassili: “We love your country!”

Aaw, we love you too! (Team Finland)


Our trip to Poland

Three students from HUYK made a one-week trip to Birzca, Poland in March. The trip was part of our school’s Erasmus+ project called R.E.S.P.E.C.T. In addition to us there were teachers and pupils from Germany, Iceland, Greece and Spain.

During the visit we experienced all kinds of things from frying sausages around a camp fire to exploring the city of Krakow. We also rehearsed and performed a play together in a school talent show.

By Venla    (translation by E.R.)


The teachers had decided the pupils would perform a play together. The theme of the play was bullying and its consequences, which was also the theme of our project. At least one pupil from each country took part in the performance, and from Team Finland we had Ly and I.

We only had 30 minutes time to rehearse with the teacher and after that some two hours among ourselves. We had to speak English and work with almost total strangers. On the day of the talent show almost all the actors arrived late so we had no time for a dress rehearsal!

However, the performance was a success for everybody and I was very proud of Ly and myself. Many people in the audience started to cry. Right after the show we went for a hike in the forest.

By Tia   (translation by E.R.)


As a school trip abroad, we and other students from other countries felt a bit nervous and curious along the way to Poland. But after we left our first footprints on this Birzca land, and were welcomed to the Polish families, everything turned to a very interesting way. I could see that Polish people are maybe friendlier at first sight than Finns when every host came and gave us kisses on both cheeks. Polish are also very sociable and kind. We were treated extremely well and we were offered many Polish delicious traditional dishes. We joined the play, always tried to get to know more about others, we also visited national forest and 4 cities in just 5 days. But every single moment, since we started our journey, we found a feeling, named excited. This journey gave us many memories but also challenges, led us to learn new things, to get new friends and to enjoy our youth.

By Ly



R.E.S.P.E.C.T. member schools

We had our first project meeting in Vik, Iceland in October where we met teachers from all the schools taking part in the project. We were planning the activies we will be doing next.

Here are the five other schools in the project:

IES Valsequillo in Gran Canaria (a map)


Mittelschule Wörth in Germany (a map)


Geniko Lykeio Kato Achaias in Greece (a map)


Publiczne Gimnazjum Nr 1 w Birczy in Poland (a map)


Vikurskoli in Iceland (a map)


New Project!!

Our application for a new KA2 project has been accepted! So we will start a two-year project with schools from Spain (the project coordinator), Germany, Iceland, Poland and Greece. The name of the project is R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Respectful European Schools Pursue Equality & Cultural Tolerance). The aim is to study and compare ways to tackle bullying, absenteeism, early school leaving and all kinds of discrimination at school. We will also try to find ways to help refugees, immigrant students and other students in disadvantaged positions to integrate.

This project will include students and their families, teachers and other school staff. There will be meetings in the participating countries when we get to present the work we have done in all the schools,  but we’ll also work online between the meetings. The first student meeting will be in Poland in March 2017, and the first teachers’ meeting where we’ll plan how to begin the project with our students is held in Iceland in October. There’ll be more news to come, stay tuned!


Erasmus+ Teacher Training course in Edinburgh

Course Programme
Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture
Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony
Brexit and Scotland



I chose to attend a two-week teacher training course in Edinburgh, Scotland between 20th June and 1st July 2016. The full name of the course was “Effective Communication and Practical Teaching Skills with an Introduction to Scottish Culture”. The course was given by the language school Inlingua Edinburgh, which is a small school situated in the main street of Edinburgh’s new town. In our teacher training group there were only six English teachers, and the total number of students in the whole school during my stay was only about 20, so it was relaxed and we got to know each other, and all the teachers knew our names by the end of the first day I think! In our course there were two English teachers from Poland (upper secondary school),  one from Spain (nursery school), one from Germany (senior citizen education), one from the Reunion Island / France (secondary school) and I.

Course Programme

We had teacher training lessons every morning from 9.30 to 12.45, and after lunch we had our 90-minute spoken perfomance class, and the afternoons we spent exploring Edinburgh with one of the teachers as our expert guide. So our days lasted full eight hours and sometimes even more, when the afternoon tours took longer than expected :).

We had four Inlingua teachers training us in the mornings, so we were offered a wide range of teaching techniques and resources. We learnt about adaptable teaching, teaching grammar creatively, using Cuisenaire rods in language teaching, teaching speaking, listening and phonology, activating vocabulary, teaching reading and writing, how to teach grammar creatively, the use of games and drama, and the use of web resources in the classroom. On the last day of the course we had to plan a lesson and present it to the group.

We were also taught the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, and we read his famous poem  “To A Mouse“, which he wrote in Scots, the Scottish dialect of English spoken in Lowland Scotland. We then had to write a poem of our own using the Burns stanza, which was quite fun. We also picked up a few words in Scots, such as:

Aye = yes (in every day use still)

wee = tiny, little (also in everyday use in Scotland)

loch = lake

glen = valley

och = oh!   (and there are many more)

I must say I just loved the Scottish accent! It was always different depending on the speaker, but everybody rolled their Rs, which made them “rhotic speakers”. All our classes were conversational, and we had lots of chances to speak English with native speakers. I did not say a word of Finnish in three weeks :).

Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture


As I told before, we spent our afternoons visiting various sights in Edinburgh and its surroundings. I think this was something extra compared to other courses, as there was always a teacher with us who could tell us about the places we visited. And all explained in the beautiful Scottish accent ;).We also did quite a bit of walking around the city!

We visited the old and new town of Edinburgh, the Georgian house which is a town house from the late 18th century, the Royal Botanic Gardens (we learned that the thistle 330px-Milk_thistle_flowerhead is the national symbol of Scotland), The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, the Calton Hill, the Scottish Parliament and Rosslyn Chapel and the Edinburgh Castle. The school also organized a pub night with teachers and we were given some expert advice on Scottish whiskies. We were not able to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse because it is the official residence of  the Queen when she is in Scotland, and she was there to give some garden parties and open the Session of the Scottish Parliament.

All in all, I learned a lot about the history of Scotland, its kings and queens, the Jacobites, the history of the old and the new town of Edinburgh, about the Scottish politics and the Scottish national identity.

 Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony

I stayed with a family in Edinburgh, because I wanted to practise English and get a real insight into life in Scotland. The house was a 45-minute walk from the city centre and the school, and I bought a bus pass because the walk in the morning was uphill. The buses were quite slow on the busy cobbled streets, the ride to school took some 20 minutes. I stayed with Carolyn and her daughter Katherine, who were just lovely and made me feel like a member of the family!

I found all the people I met extremely friendly and polite. That is something we Finns could learn from the Scottish people. I did not hear any swear words either. It is considered very rude to swear in Britain, especially to people you don’t know well. I am going to tell my students that there is no need to sound like gangsta rappers in my classes 🙂


Katherine received four or five awards!

I had a chance to visit Katherine’s school, Drummond Community High School, with her mom and grandmother for a prize giving ceremony. Students received prizes for their achievement at school. The ceremony was for their families. There were a couple of speeches and musical perfomances, so it resembled our end of term festivities, but it was two weeks before the end of term and the beginning of summer holidays. There were prizes in different categories: “General award for effort and commitment” in various subjects,”overall year winners”, “100% attendance and excellent punctuality” but also “strive to succeed award” which was for those who had improved their performance. All the names of the students were printed on a leaflet, a copy of which I got, too. This ceremony made me think that in Finland we do not want to make a great fuss about good achievement at school, perhaps because we fear that it might cause bad feelings among those who do not get any prizes, but maybe the students find these prize giving ceremonies motivating instead?


Brexit and Scotland


During my stay the UK had the referendum whether to leave or remain in the European Union. I stayed up on the 23rd of June until about 3 in the morning and went to bed thinking that the remain side would win, but woke up to Brexit. It was a shock to many people in Scotland, as Scotland and also Northern Ireland had voted for staying in the EU. It remains to be seen if there is  a second vote on independece (indyvote2) after this.

The Scotsman on Brexit



Last, I did a little bit of travelling on my own and visited the Higlands and the Isle of Skye. I left a piece of my heart there ❤


by Erja Rantanen

… and Present Projects

Our school applied for EU funding for a new Erasmus+ KA1 project for school staff in February 2016. In the KA1 -mobility you can attend a course abroad, do job shadowing (you go abroad to a school and observe classes there) or you can teach in a foreign school. We were lucky and our application was accepted by the Finnish national agency CIMO. The name of the project is UYK-Uudistutaan Yhdessä Kansainvälisesti. The KA1-project can last 12 to 24 months. Ours is a one-year project. You can read more about KA1  here .

Three teachers will attend a course in the summer 2016 and one will do a job shadowing period in Sweden in the autumn. You can read our stories from the courses in the blog.

Our school was also asked to take part in another Erasmus+ -project which is called KA2 – strategic partnerships, along with five other European schools. This activity is like the previous Comenius-projects with several schools and involving both teachers and students. The project coordinator is IES Valsequillo in Gran Canaria, and the other participants are schools from Germany, Greece, Iceland and Poland. The project application (which was VERY long) was submitted to the Spanish National Agency in March 2016 and the name of the project is R.E.S.P.E.C.T. We will know in July whether it will be accepted… fingers crossed!


UYK International Past…

International Activities at our School in the Past


2013-2015 Multi-school 2-year project (LLP) – GAMES (Games as motivating educational strategies):

Our student team in Gran Canaria


Playing games together

Briefly, the idea behind GAMES was to motivate students and teachers to work together to reach specific learning goals through the development of games and their active use in the classroom. These games would then be shared across European borders.

There were 8 schools from seven countries in this project: Finland, France, Germany, Italy (2 schools), Poland, Spain and Turkey. In total 16 high school pupils and 9 teachers from our school visited 4 different countries in this project. The first visit was in Benevento, Italy in November, 2013 and the following visits were in France (17.-23.03.2014), Turkey and Spain (Gran Canaria).

2013-2014 Individual Pupil Mobility (IPM):

September-Decmber, 2013 we had 5 Spanish students at our school. In January

WP_20130921_006 2014 six students from our school left for Spain for 3 months. There are 2 ninth-grade students and 4 high school students participating in the exchange. Three went to Gran Canaria and three went to Valencia. All costs for the students were paid by the project. Thanks also to our Finnish families who hosted the students while they were here!

2012-2013 Individual Pupil Mobility (IPM) :

We recieved EU funding to send 1 high school student to our partner school in Tallinn, Estonia for 3 months and for 2 high school students to our partner school in Gran Canaria, Spain for 3-5 months. All costs of the exchange were paid for by the project. This exchange took place 09.01-09.06.2013.

2012-2013 Individual Pupil Mobility (IPM) :

Together with our partner school in Tallinn we recieved EU funding for one student from their school to attend our school for 3 months. Rasmus Hirv was at our school from 14.08.-15.11.2012

2012-2013 Assistant Teacher:

We applied for EU funding to have another teacher assistant, from another European member country, to be at our school for 45 weeks. Ms Marlene Gerber from Austria was the assistant at our school.

2011-2013 Multi-school 2-year project (LLP) – ‘Tales and Legends are on the Way’:

This multi-lateral school project, highlighting the connections between our countries and schools. We shared our national tales, heroes and legends. The countries involved in the project were Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Holland, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and the UK (Scotland).

The first visit was to Portugal in November, 2011. In total 16 seventh-grade pupils and 9 teachers from our school visited 5 different countries in this project (Portugal, Italy, Iceland, Scotland, and Spain). The teachers and students from our partner schools in the project also visited Helsinki in March, 2013.

2010-2011 Assistant Teacher:

We had an assistant teacher from Estonia at our school for 45 weeks. Ms Kristina Kazakova worked with the English department while she was at our school.

2010-2011 Individual Pupil Mobility (IPM):

Two high school pupils from our school spent time as exchange students in our partner schools in Estonia and Spain. The exchange period was 3-5 months and was a great success. All costs were paid for by the project.

2008-2010 Multi-school 2-year project (LLP) – ‘Climate change – Challenges for Europe’:

This was our first Comenius project and was in co-operation with 3 other schools in Europe. The schools were in Estonia, Spain and the UK. The project focused on climate change and what it means for Europe. Sixteen students from high school and 9 teachers travelled to the different schools to discuss the issues, and to formulate solutions, of climate change together. The teachers and students from our partner countries also visited Finland during the project.

Other Projects and activities


January-June Mr. Steve Vanstone from England was working at our school as a teacher assistant.


International Physics Trip to Switzerland. Teachers and upper-secondary students visited CERN to see particle accelerator there.


International Physics Trip to Switzerland. Teachers and upper-secondary students visited CERN to see new particle accelerator there.

1998 to the present day – 8th Grade Class Trips to England:

Every spring the Advanced English Class makes a one week trip to England. The students stay in families and also attend school there. The base for the trip is Cheltenham and the group also spends one day in London.