STALWARTS - Sustaining Teachers and Learners with the Arts: Relational Health in European Schools

Scientific Coordinator: Anna Rita Addessi

Sector: Higher Education

Unibo structure involved: Department of Education Studies "Giovanni Maria Bertin"

Unibo Team: Dr.ssa Adriana Gallicchio

Project Duration in months: 24
Start Date: 15/09/2017 
End Date: 14/09/2019

Budget: 189.155,00 euro
Unibo Budget: 17.090,00 euro


  • Novalis Trust (UK)
  • Randvere kool (ESTONIA)
  • Istituto Comprensivo Granarolo dell'Emilia (IT)
  • Hyssingen Produksjonsskole (NORWAY)
  • AE2O - Associação para a Educação de Segunda Oportunidade (PT)

The project name STALWARTS stands for ‘Sustaining Teachers And Learners With the Arts’.  The subtitle of the project is ‘Relational Health in European Schools’. The STALWARTS project will operate in 5 European countries: Estonia, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and the UK. It is a cross- sectoral project that involves a University and a school working in partnership together in each country. The group of schools comprises one residential special school, two 'second chance' schools and two mainstream schools that ‘prioritise inclusive practice’. The diversity of classrooms, educational settings and European regions represented will enrich the experiences of and learning from this inter-professional development project.

The STALWARTS project aims to promote relational health in schools.  It builds upon the achievements of the current complementary LINK project (Learning in a New Key) through facilitating collaboration and learning between teachers and music and other creative arts therapists to support vulnerable young people in their transitions into learning. The STALWARTS methodology is based on UNCRC principles that encourage teachers and therapists to investigate the impact of sensory and relational aspects of music and arts experiences on the executive functions of the brain and to explore creative activities that support the development of positive attachments to which vulnerable young people have a right.  

Through the STALWARTS training programme teachers engage themselves in collaborative music making with the young people while conducting classroom enquiries that draw on observable physiological phenomena.  It is through the development of such evidence bases that the promotion of young people’s relational health in the school context becomes recognised as a concern that teachers can address. In this emerging field of interest, practice-based evidence from the STALWARTS project will support shared reflections between teachers and therapists in a way that helps both groups to find synergies between their different professional ways of working.  Through discussions like these the LINK project teachers have been developing new knowledge, understandings, skills and ways of being that support them to become music/arts-based therapeutic teaching practitioners.  During the STALWARTS project these methodologies and classroom enquiries will be incorporated into new accredited university study programmes. 

Thus the first STALWARTS objective will be to transform these professional learning experiences into learning outcomes for new Masters level modules in therapeutic teaching practice so as to accredit teachers’ enhanced competences in this field.  A common Post Graduate Certificate in ‘Relational Health in European Schools through Music and the Arts’ will be accredited in each of the 5 participating Universities and will recruit teachers and other professionals working in the 5 partner schools during the second year of the programme. The new accredited training programme will be supported by 2 significant resources that will be developed as part of the STALWARTS project.  The first, a set of guidelines called ‘A Framework for Impact Studies’ includes guidance on how to conduct small scale classroom enquiries in this new field.  It also reports on a significant number of new classroom enquiries emerging from the STALWARTS project relevant to the theme of relational health in European schools.  The second document ‘Relational Health in Schools in Context’ provides a European-wide policy context for these initiatives.

It is anticipated that the main beneficiaries will be vulnerable young people within the classes of the teachers who will engage in the university-based study programmes.  Some will have had adverse childhood experiences that will have resulted in developmental trauma that is not restored or repaired through the prevalent behaviourist approaches of many schools. It is intended that the teachers of such vulnerable children who comprise up to 15% of general school populations in Europe, will have accredited professional recognition for the enhanced competences that underpin their therapeutic teaching practices and be respected for their capacities to incorporate dimensions of relational health into their new educational rationales. It is anticipated that these measures will enhance the learning experience of this vulnerable group of young people and be recognised as contributing to the wider European project 'reducing early leaving from education and training'.

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union