Pupils spend detention time working with the elderly


A school and a care home in Tienen, Flemish Brabant, have joined forces to make detention a much more valuable experience

Building bridges

Pupils from a school in Tienen are using their detention time to help out elderly people at a nearby rest home.

Third- and fourth-grade pupils from Piso school have been setting tables, making coffee and going for walks with residents at the Twee Poorten home. The school is giving the children are the chance to spend their detention there instead of in class.

Sven Bruyneel, one of the residence’s carers and now student coordinator, came up with the idea. He says the main motivation was the increasing workload for care staff, without equivalent compensation. School leaders were keen to work with the home, as the project offers an extra learning experience for students that’s much more useful than traditional detention in a classroom. 

The pupils are exposed to volunteering, and one has already signed up to do more work at the home. Twee Poorten is looking into expanding the project by involving more schools and more care homes. For the moment, the project is limited to one Wednesday a month, with about 50 pupils allowed to work there at a time.

“Because of the co-operation between a residential care facility and a school, the gap between youngsters and the elderly is reduced,” principal of the facility Cindy Jonckman told Het Laatste Nieuws. With this in mind, the project has been called The Bridge.

Photo: VRS/Het Nieuwsblad