Crisis Classroom: If you can't go to school, school can come to you. Training communities to deliver quality education in mobile classrooms.
We train volunteer educators to deliver skills & language-based activities to people unable to access quality education.
A Crisis Classroom teacher in a mobile, pop-up classroom delivering a therapeutic arts workshop.
Newly trained teachers at Sussex University enjoying Fattoush, a Syrian salad, made by the team as they learned French and Arabic.
Newly trained Giordano teaching West African refugees in Italy.
Crisis Classroom Logo
The environment we encountered when we first visited the Jungle camp outside Calais. How could we build a safe space to learn?
Our prototype pop-up classroom, which inflates in 10 minutes and can be deployed anywhere there is not formal learning space. Pop-up classrooms are modular and can be zipped together to form larger structures. It is possible that a whole pop-up school could be constructed in under an hour and disappear just as quickly.
Our time in the Jungle camp.
A recipe card lesson plan for one of our cookery classes. All our lesson plans are created in this way - highly visual, using a limited number of nouns and verbs, clearly showing the intended result. Each lesson plan has space on the back to write notes and can be folded into a little book for ease of transport. Once it is no longer needed it can be used to light a fire, so there is minimal waste. We have similar lesson plans to plant a vertical garden, knit slippers and build a school.
Learning to cook together, describing what we are doing with new language and sharing the joy of eating together.
Volunteer teachers during training taking part in a Crisis Classroom lesson; learning to cook & speak Arabic from a refugee teacher.
Lessons combine practical activity & language development and leave behind useful skills, knowledge and happy memories
The pop-up classroom in action working with young families in Brighton. Activities that are shared across age-groups, cultures, languages and countries. What happens in Brighton also happens in refugee camps across Europe.
What problem does your innovation solve?
We address the issue of access to high quality, context-specific education. We train local people to become educators, turning them into human classrooms; so that if you can't get to school, school can come to you. More than verbs and algebra, our education model focuses on re-building human beings, meeting basic needs and learning skills for life. Through training & mentoring, we prepare our teachers to become responsive, inclusive, safe and creative facilitators focussed on student need.
Explain your innovation.
The Crisis Classroom resources and methodology are the result of combining pedagogy and trauma therapy to create a unique human-centred approach; which sees education as partnership and teacher development as key. Educators become mobile classrooms and take learning to those who cannot access school. We have developed a series of trainings and volunteering opportunities which develop skills and languages, making learning accessible for all those who find themselves outside of formal educational settings. By developing the skill set of the local community and linking them with volunteers who are experts in their field, we are building a global network of trained educators and facilitators who are able to respond to the needs that arise in times of crisis; short term or protracted. Our model of education sees learning as a patchwork rather than a ladder. It is designed in this way so that each individual learning experience develops a new skill, strengthens feelings of well-being and belonging and provides opportunities to practise language and build toward a sustainable future. It is often impossible for students to commit to a course of study for myriad reasons. The Crisis Classroom methodology allows students to learn in family groups, individually and in various contexts. Each individual hexagon leads to another with communication being the thread that links them all; building up a patchwork of skills, knowledge and understanding which prepares them for independence.
We built the Crisis Classroom Framework to make it easier for teachers to synthesise our educational model; that HOW you teach matters more than WHAT you teach. The Framework is built around a central philosophy - meet your learners where they are at today. Use the central ring to prepare yourself as an educator to create a safe space for learning. Use the outer ring to create resources that reflect the self-regulation cycle of the nervous system. Learners who feel safe will dare to do more.
Our patchwork model of creating educational pathways. We have three categories for foundational classes - Eat, Make and Play. Each activity is complete in itself and must fulfil three criteria. 1) They should be psychosocially protective - fun, inclusive and community oriented 2) They should meet a basic need - something that can be used straight away 3) They should develop a future skill - lay the foundations that will lead towards further education or employment.
Crisis Classrooms act as a catalyst for communities to respond to and meet their own needs; safe spaces that hatch sustainable, community driven and focussed projects to the benefit of all. Educators and students develop new techniques that enable positive human relationships to flourish & build life-skills that are transferable into further education, training and employment. Teachers identify needs within their communities and respond by developing psychosocially protective, skills and language based learning activities in partnership with other local actors. Our education model focuses on developing skills which enable the successful acquisition of knowledge. Rather than teaching these explicitly, we create inclusive activities which foster these skills; creating resilient, creative, problem-solvers who are capable of working together, building healthy human relationships and actively shaping their own futures. Our success is measured in educators trained and in projects initiated.
The first lesson ever delivered within the Darfur community in the Calais Jungle by Crisis Classroom.
Building the Darfur School
making individual panels for the school
The finished Darfur school building, before decoration.
We worked with a community of young Sudanese men in Calais. We began with cookery and language, then carpentry skills and went on to build a school together. They took over management, hired their own teachers, cooked meals for students and started teaching themselves. Known as the Darfur school it was hugely successful. They told us what they wanted, we helped them to develop the requisite skills, added enough language to sustain it and then came back for regular visits and stayed in touch.
How is your innovation unique?
The main reason that projects fall over is because people falter. Through our training and preparation we are creating an agile and responsive network of volunteers who are able to work together to address the educational needs of people in crisis. During our year in Calais we witnessed volunteer burnout, secondary trauma and lack of preparedness; which meant that the quality of educational response was severely compromised and continuity of care was diminished. Our initiative is to create an entire infrastructure to support teachers and the development of small, independent educational projects. Crisis Classrooms are needs-led. When a crisis occurs, volunteers can self-organise, deploy a pop-up school and have a school up in days, not months. We train the local community and refugees themselves to become educators who can maintain, sustain and develop longer term projects, or to pack down without a trace if there is no longer a need, leaving behind only the learning and memories.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?
We would welcome support with putting systems in place for monitoring and evaluating the efficacy of the model. We know it works, we've lived it for a year and are now expanding our team, but we would like to be able to measure the longer term impact on communities of Crisis Classrooms. How much support is required in different contexts? What is the average cost of setting up a project? What are the common factors in successful projects? What are the common challenges? Are there further trainings that could be put into place to better support projects / educators? We also want to work with technical support for the pop-up classroom, to see what tech could be integrated into the classrooms to support hi-tech, digital learning.
Tell us more about you.
We are Kate McAllister and Darren Abrahams, co-directors of Crisis Classroom CIC. We have now trained over 100 volunteers in the UK. We are visiting Tuscany and Lesvos over the coming months to train more volunteers and develop projects as described. We have received funding from Google to pilot the training/pop-up classroom and are working with project partners in Turkey, Italy, France, Greece, Belgium. We're developing links with UK universities and businesses to recruit more volunteers.
The arrival of our first Crisis Classroom in December 2015 - a double decker bus that we transformed into a mobile school and took to the Calais Jungle refugee camp.
Training volunteers at Sussex University, June 2017
What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?
Emergency Setting - Elaborate
Our pop-up classroom can be deployed in 48 hours to the scene of a crisis. It inflates by battery powered pump in 10 minutes, packs down in 25 and can be linked to other structures to form a 'school'. It fits into the boot of a car or bicycle trailer and can therefore be taken into communities where girls and their families or refugees in crisis situations cannot freely access education. Once the first-responding team has trained locals and created a safe, sustainable 'classroom', it moves on.
Where will your innovation be implemented?
We currently work with the local population in Brighton UK and Sarteano Italy, refugee populations and local volunteers throughout Europe. Because each context needs a unique solution, the pop-up classroom is adaptable to a range of contexts and the training is designed to create independent, equipped, resilient and responsive educators. We will work with refugee adults, youth and children in refugee camps, families in host communities and the wider communities; schools, employers, FE providers.
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
Google: 6 month pilot funding for pop-up & in the field training
Cambridge English: co-creating a MOOC for volunteer educators
Brighton & Hove Social Work & Fostering Team
Team Up2Teach: MIT Solver team of educators co-creating educational resources for volunteer teachers
NGOs in UK and Europe: WorldWideTribe, Techfugees, Brighton City of Sanctuary, Brighton University, Sussex University, MARS, Refugee Youth Service, Hummingbird Project, JCRAG, SB Overseas, Crunch Accounting (local employer)
I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.
Sector Expertise - Elaborate
We each have more than 20 years' experience in the field of education. We have worked together piloting the methodology and training in the Calais Jungle since August 2015. Darren has worked globally as a musician and trauma therapist (www.darrenabrahams.com) and Kate's work with www.rethinking-ed.org can be seen here http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09585176.2015.1137778. We have both worked in UK schools to build self managed learning programmes. We plan to develop a global team.
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.
We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.
We are based in Brighton UK
How has your Idea changed based on feedback?
Participating in OpenIDEO has shown us our service could support many other global initiatives. Work needs to be done on quality controlled scalability and robust organisational models. Recently returning from Italy we learned the importance of translating/delivering training in the local language and funding a local co-ordinator to manage volunteers and ongoing classes in situ. Function of the pop-up classroom is context specific: important as "third space" for communities to safely meet.
Signing up for classes. Italy July 2017
Looking at lesson plans. Italy July 2017
Giordano's self portrait class. Italy July 2017
Cooking together. Italy July 2017
Learning side by side, local Italians and West African migrants. Italy July 2017
Who will implement this Idea?
Both co-directors are keen to work full time on this. In the short term we need a full time Administrator to support growth with potential to increase team to 5 by end of year - marketing, training co-ordination, accounts. Our vision is for a distributed, network of collaborating Classrooms, managed locally by a franchisee and administered by a small core team based in Brighton UK. We need part time local co-ordinators for each project and a training assistant for each training, preferably from the local refugee community. Partnerships with universities/businesses give access to volunteers.
What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?
1) Logistics - following training the biggest issue preventing teachers from taking action is anxiety about the unknown. Where do I go? Where will I stay? Who will I meet? etc We are putting a full opportunity structure in place to make taking action easy. Up front knowledge is needed to feel safe enough to take the next step.
2) Understanding local contexts - to provide logistical support for individuals we need local knowledge. Staying on top of local regulation/bureaucracy, providing accommodation/transport, having the right structures to operate within different contexts (refugee camps, urban, rural). This takes time and money as local co-ordination needs to be sourced and paid for until each hub can be self sustaining, and a fully functioning part of the wider network.
Teachers - how do we go from training to volunteering? Photo from a training at Sussex University in June 2017.
Systems - how do we understand local contexts well enough to support volunteers and serve local need from a distance? Photo taken in July 2017 at Suzie's Yard in Tuscany, an organic farm where we ran an activities afternoon for teachers we had just trained to try out their lessons. We invited West African refugees housed nearby and other local Italians. For many this was the first time the two communities had encountered each other face to face in a social setting.
How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?
We see ourselves as a trainer of teacher/facilitators and an incubator of collaborative education start-ups. Sustainability lies in our paid for training model, provision of resources and members portal. Our aim is to stay small/inexpensive as an organisation, but to grow through a network of Crisis Classroom social franchises. We have 4 main training markets: individuals, universities, corporates, NGOs. As a social enterprise our profits will go back into bursaries for teachers and start up funds for projects. We will use crowdfunding to support teachers. More info in attached Business Plan.
Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?
IMPACT: By 2022 we aim to have empowered a global network of Crisis Classrooms able to respond to local and international need for emergency education, fed by an army of volunteers from universities, corporates and NGOs around the world.
QUESTION: How do we maintain quality control over such a large network and assess impact in key areas of educational progress, entrepreneurship and self management without losing flexibility, spontaneity and imposing too much centralised control?
How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?
Output: numbers of teachers trained and projects implemented.
Outcomes: qualities of self management for both teachers and learners - resilience, skills development, ability to learn, relationship building, adaptability, self regulation. We hope that both learners and teachers will feel empowered to keep expanding their skills. We are working with www.anydatasolutions.com to adapt a digital self assessment tool already used in UK schools to measure relevant KPIs through a smart phone app.
What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?
Year 1: Single Hub - build a sustainable model from Brighton supporting core team
Design full training programme up to Level 3
Launch Members Platform
Create range of physical and digital resources
Form partnerships with up to 5 universities, corporates and NGOs
Support up to 3 projects in the field
Build team and marketing strategy
Year 2: Second Hub - pilot processes to duplicate model in another country
Year 3: Social Franchise - develop social franchise model and run a training pilot
My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:
How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?
Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?
We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.
How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?
What do you need the most support with for your innovation?
Business Development / Partnerships Support