The Swedish city of Halmstad has adopted the “The 10 Good Habits”, a novel approach to education to enhance participation across institutions, families and private partners concerned in the pilot project. This experience is inspired by the URBACT ON BOARD Transfer Network for the creation of an Education Innovation Network (EIN). Following the Lead Partner Viladecans (Spain), Halmstad has engaged in forming its own version of a Education Innovation Network (EIN) in a pilot area, the School Area North in the Oskarström neighbourhood.
 The 10 Good Habits approach has been developed by a local consultancy, Hjärnberikad, in cooperation with neuroscience researchers. The concept focuses on effective brain health and provides knowledge and tools for a sharpened everyday life. The Good Habits focus on: Food, Physical training, Positive thinking, Handling stress, Learning new things, Repetition, Variety, Decision-making, Friends, Sleep.
Halmstad is a fast-growing town on Sweden’s west coast: a port, but also a university, industrial and recreational city. The local education system rarely cooperated actively with local companies, organisations, or even parents. Rather, it was strongly managed by municipal departments guided by national rules. Typically for Sweden, local families were involved in children’s sports clubs, but much less so in schools. The opportunity offered by ONBOARD network was to adopt the Education Innovation Network (EIN) approach to modernise education curricula through digital technologies at different ages and stages of learning, to provide pupils with the necessary skills to enter the job market.
The city of Halmstad, which has already been working together with Viladecans since 2014 on a project called IMAILE, in 2018 engaged in transferring the Spanish city’s good practice involving multidisciplinary and multi-sector stakeholders for the EIN creation. The EIN is a cooperative structure that brings together public administration, education centers, professionals, families, and enterprises.
With the EIN, Halmstad hoped to deliver short-term improvements such as calmer classrooms, but also longer-term benefits in terms of preparing future professionals and citizens. The success of the extensive cooperation among partners led to modifying the educational curricula and creating a new teaching approach by adding technologies and involving the parents.
Among the activities developed we can find:
- “Happy Braincells”: the objective of the project was to give fifth graders an educational package consisting in games, readings and group presentation to give them more knowledge about health factors and the 10 Good Habits.
- “Stroller Walks”: based on the “Movement” good habit, the students were given a topic which they discussed during walks. When they came back, teachers collected their thoughts in the classrooms. The project entailed the participation of parents.
- “Increased Learning”: collaboration between training schools, teacher training students, Halmstad University, and the school librarian to increased learning and promoting good reading habits;
- Young people influence in local society: collaboration between the municipality and the Oskarström neighbourhood community to get students to be more active and politically mobilized.
The project was also to implement good practices in everyday’s lessons, e.g. beginning classes by looking back at the previous class (repetition), or mindfully understanding the positive thoughts that reaching a goal brings.
To enhance the work and results of ON BOARD, Halmstad’s city council created across its departments four clusters, meant to share interests and work on topics of Care and Support, Education and Learning, Growth and Attractiveness, Infrastructure. The aim of the clusters is to enhance an integrated approach in which communication within the municipality is improved.
Halmstad is committed to continuing the work to enhance education innovation in collaboration with community stakeholders. The city recognizes that in order to continue and expand the work, the municipality will need to organize and delegate, but also continue to transform the municipality’s different departmental boundaries.
The city has also identified further necessary improvements to build on the progress made so far, concerning communication within the municipality, within departments and schools units and the community.
Learning from Viladecans’ Good Practice, EIN in Halmstad ment involving parents, public administration, local businesses, sports clubs in a brand-new participatory approach.
The city started by taking an inventory of local stakeholders and identifying a first pilot area to trial the EIN approach, the School Area North – one of the five different areas in the city’s educational map.
After creating a Coordination Team and an Urban Local Group (ULG) coordinator at the municipal level, the town then formed five Focus Groups based on the 10 Good Habits to improve students’ brain power and overall well-being.
Each Focus Group involved a mix of relevant stakeholders and started making projects with the School Area North to add different activities in the schools’ curricula based on the 10 Good Habits. The purpose was to further the students’ knowledge on the good habits for mental health so that they would continue practising them in the longer term, eventually in their working lives.
 13 schools, 389 teachers and principals, 996 students, 100 families, 10 companies, 2 universities, 10 local entities, 1 mayor, 1 councilor, 20 people from the municipal staff.
By transferring and adapting Viladecan’s good practice, Halmstad has successfully achieved many objectives. It has reinforced the city’s social sustainability goals (schools working together with other schools, authorities and civil society), improved cooperation between the two municipal Education Departments (Primary and Secondary Level), increased resources from one of its educational departments (allocated to a new person for the Educational Innovation Network projects in School Area North), nurtured a forum that enables to plan, implement and evaluate joint work, created new collaborations to develop an health-aware perspective in Oskarström (the “Happy Brain cell” project and the “Stroller Walks” to engage with parents from a very early stage).
After the ONBOARD Transfer Network project, Halmstad detected four main outcomes:
After the transnational meetings of ONBOARD in 2019 all the Project Partners signed a Policy Declaration in which they outlined their cities’ stance on education and educational innovation and the role that local governments could play.
The progress of Halmstad transfer project has been affected by the disruption of Covid-19 in 2020, but it managed to adapt to the pace of current circumstances and engage in “digital mode” activities, improving its digital skills for organising and teaching over the Internet.