My revolution in the system

Introducing changes in the system is difficult but possible. Schools which have successfully done it prove that. Let’s have a closer look at the history of a primary school in Radowo Małe which is an example of such a positive change.

Radowo Małe is a village in the Zachodniopomorskie Region which underwent rapid social transformation in the 1990s, connected to the structural changes and then the mass migration of the inhabitants looking for work. This had a huge impact on the primary school which since then began to struggle with numerous problems.

Ewa Radanowicz (who served as the school’s headmistress in 2002-2021) and her team carried out a small revolution in the functioning of the institution, namely in terms of the organisation, space and methods of working with children. This was a direct response to the local needs and the limited usefulness of the existing tools offered by the system. A new operating method was created on the basis of these experiences, backed by a different vision of the school and its place in the life of the society. It is one of the examples which offers hope that change is possible even in the public school system.


photograph: Jarosław Rudnicki

Main photo - My revolution in the system

Initial state

  • As a result of the liquidation of the State Agricultural Farms, the majority of the inhabitants lost their principal source of livelihood. Due to the lack of agency at the time of political and economic changes, many people felt as if their dignity had been taken away from them.
  • The local primary school received the worst test results in the country at particular stages of education.

The school is ours when it meets our needs

The standard solutions implemented in Radowo Małe, whose goal was to improve school marks and catch up on the material, did not prove particularly helpful. Ewa Radanowicz and her team realised that in order to solve the crisis they had to find another way. First and foremost, they had to identify the local needs which the school had to address. This was the first step to changing the way of thinking about the school’s role.

Everyone agreed that school should first of all be a place where children feel safe and seen and where they have opportunities to develop and enhance their self-confidence, which would be crucial in their future life.

Taking advantage of the autonomy enjoyed by each institution, the school in Radowo Małe became a laboratory for new methods of working. The process of introducing changes took many years. Improving students’ results was not the central focus, however it was one of the outcomes.

Current situation

New plans and ideas for activities influenced the school’s spatial arrangement. The main purpose was to help students feel comfortable at school. It is easier to develop social competence and cooperation skills during workshops, which are the school’s fundamental goals, in a friendly surrounding. Thus, for instance, over the years a travel room, kitchen as well as theatre and art studios were created.

The space was modified to better suit students’ needs. It sparked in them the desire to engage in the project-based learning and allowed teachers to depart from the traditional teaching methods. Over time a new, different model of working was designed for the school. The students’ current timetable is comprised of three main parts:

  • 1/3: activities in mixed-age groups and project laboratories
  • 1/3: individual work
  • 1/3: traditional lessons with teachers.

Thanks to this approach students can gain knowledge, experience and social competence while working in a varied way, which is particularly beneficial for their future lives.