Arco Maior is a “second chance school” for children and young people

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Arco Maior is an institution that promotes the professional training of young people signalled by the CPCJ (Commission for the Protection of Children and Young People), so that they conclude their 6th, 9th and 12th school levels.

These young students have somewhat difficult life backgrounds and found out at the Arco Maior School that they have something in common: traditional learning was not a path they would take. In order to not exclude these students, the Project Arco Maior provided them the best guidance possible.

This week, the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, and the councillor for Education, Fernando Paulo, visited the Secondary School Infante D. Henrique to get to know this “second-chance school”, who has already trained over three hundred students.

Porto. talked to some of the students; Miguel explained that “I would miss school because I could not adapt to the in-class learning system. Ângelo would feel the same that is why he would rather go jump off the bridge Luís I into the river Douro. Nair, in turn, still tried to attend some professional training in different institutions and Fátima acknowledges that her temper is “explosive”, which would make school adaptation difficult.

The Arco Maior Project is, therefore, devoted to include these and many other children and youngsters that are in a vulnerable situation, as they have been signalled by the CPCJ, due to school dropout. This project was established in 2013, and it is divided through four poles in Porto and in Vila Nova de Gaia. This “second-chance school”’ mission is to provide youth aged 14 and 17 years (in a PIEF model, aka, Integrated Programme of education and Training), and aged 18 and 24 years (in a EFA model, aka Adult Education and Training), before they conclude the 6th, 9th, and 12th levels of learning.

There are plenty of activities included in the Arco Maior project, such as cooking, woodwork, sculpture and painting, as well as moments to travel, moments to enhance self-knowledge, to foster creativity, which altogether will lead to the institution’s outlining goals: finding a path and preclude exclusion.

Most of the students admits to finding here something that they had never found elsewhere: “a different school”, “more inclusive”, and even a “family”, or even, as they shared with Mayor Rui Moreira, “a city seen by the colour of my eyes”. The willingness to leave Arco Maior behind as they enter the labour market seems a hard task for these graduates.

In addition to knowing the trainees and the work they have carried out, the mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira and the councillor for Housing and Social Cohesion, Fernando Paulo delivered the good news that one of the poles of the Arco Maior project – thus far operating in Bonfim – will be awarded a new space, in the parish of Campanhã, in the Escola Básica de Noeda. Also, the project relied, for the first time this year, on a municipal support of 20 thousand euros.

The visit by Rui Moreira and Fernando Paulo was accompanied by the coordinator of Arco Maior, the full Professor of the Catholic University of Porto, Joaquim Azevedo, and former director of the Escolas Alexandre Herculano School Group, Manuel Lima, and by António Nunes, representing the chairman of the Parish Council.