Belvárosi Tanoda Foundation Secondary School: The Helping School
The Belvárosi Tanoda Foundation Secondary School was established in 1990 as one of the first alternative schools in Budapest. Since then, our secondary school has helped hundreds of young people who were at risk of ‘getting lost’ in life, but yet at the same time, desperately wanted to learn and build a better future for themselves. As a school, we continue to develop our methods and our program to assist young people who face various difficulties in life, and who have also dropped out of secondary schools.
Our students are adolescents and young adults, (aged 16-25), who, due to their difficulties, were unable to meet the expectations of the standard school system. Despite all of this, they still want to study, they still want to take the final exam, and then, one day, live a normal adult life. They find us with this hope, and then ask us to help them.
Our tuition-free school gives our students an opportunity to study, to graduate, and to develop a stable and mature, adult personality.
The pillars of our program are fivefold: a system of partnership; the personal attention that we give to our students; the provision of individual pathways to learning; an accepting and supportive atmosphere; the nurturing of a wholesome community.
We operate our small school for 135 students with 20 employees.
Each student chooses a ‘Mentor’ from the teacher-counselling staff. This mentor helps to prepare and maintain the young person’s individual study program. Not surprisingly, as the mentor provides personal attention and care, all kinds of other support is also given to the student.
Instead of classes and grades, students study in variable groups that are organised according to their level. However, if necessary, we help our students’ progress through collaborative learning and personalized assignments. We develop key competencies and the ability to take part in lifelong learning with our special approach to teaching, to designing the curriculum, and also to the applied methods in how we organise learning.
There is a strong emphasis on a problem-based approach, on collaboration, and on graduation preparation.
Our school is run by ‘the Staff’ which is an innovative teaching community.
We are proud that our school still exists after 30 years and that we have managed to maintain our status of being a tuition-free school. Over the past 30 years, we have ensured that hundreds of young people have had the experience of acceptance, of working together, of finding a community in which they were made welcome, of taking responsibility for themselves and for others, of finding companions for learning, and of regaining their faith in themselves and in the world.