Ranum Efterskole College: An international education programme for learning, growth and travel
By Lena Hunter | Photos: Ranum Efterskole
Ranum Efterskole College is an international, self-governing school for 14 to 17-year-olds, offering exams at IGCSE and AS level. But the college is about more than qualifications: students at the boarding school live and learn in an international community, according to a curriculum of their own design, with a huge range of social, artistic and sports activities to choose from.
The Danish efterskole is combines academic learning with general life skills as a preparatory tool for all aspects of life. Solidarity, community and unity are central at these institutions, and they offer substantial freedom for students in subject choice, teaching methods and educational approach.
Ranum Efterskole College is founded on the philosophies of ‘inclusive community and learning’ and ‘participatory democracy’. This means that students and teachers contribute, in unity, to the development of school curricula and activities.
Another pillar of learning is the belief that interaction with different cultures strengthens personal development. “We are part of an interconnected global society. We believe that tolerance and acceptance are essential in facilitating an intercultural understanding, and that curiosity and open-mindedness are key elements in establishing 21st-century competencies,” says principal Olav Storm Johannsen.
Travel and learn
In Denmark, the demand for education courses taught in English has never been higher – but an international education is about more than language: “it’s about developing internationally minded students who are skilled and ready to be part of a global society,” says Johansson.
That’s why students at Ranum Efterskole College travel three times during each school year. “We take our students around the world, on trips that challenge their acquired skills,” says Johannsen. In total, some 500 students live and study at the college – themselves from all over the world. “Everybody who wishes to join our community is welcome,” says Johannsen.
“We watch these young people mature a great deal in the year they spend here and strive to create an environment in which they feel safe, supported and encouraged,” says Johansson. “Combining social and professional development and turning young people into responsible adults is a key aspect of what we do.”
Day to day, students at Ranum Efterskole College follow flexible, individually curated teaching programmes. Students select their own portfolio of subjects, and each subject can be studied at different academic levels from one to five. As a result, every student’s learning experience is highly personalised. “A student can take mathematics at Level 1, English at Level 3 and Danish at level 4. This is possible because all subjects are taught at the same time. The student attends lessons with other students at the same level and that helps them to progress,” explains vice principal Matthew Danaher.
Alongside traditional academic classes, Ranum Efterskole College also offers an abundance of extracurricular activities, in line with a shared commitment to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. For example, during the afternoon, students can choose to work on ecology in a garden of their own as part of the Green Fingers project.
The school has also established a unique coral reef of three-by-six metres, where it is possible to study and grow corals in the subject Coral Restoration. This STEM project is not available at any other Danish school.
The full range of extracurricular activities is broad, including music, dance, scuba diving, coral restoration, sailing, cheerleading, surf, yoga, gastronomy, fashion and many more. “We strive to provide an environment in which you feel safe, supported and encouraged in your own personal learning journey. When you leave our community, you will be prepared to share your experiences with the world!” says Johannsen.
A life-changing environment
“Ranum for me was a break from my reality, where I could be what I wanted to be. Everyone was so nice. One of my favorite things about the school is that the teachers are really your friends. I have never in my entire life experienced that my teacher could be my friend – a friend who I could talk to about my problems, or just have a nice and random conversation with. During the year I met so many people with different thoughts and beliefs from mine, which really opened my eyes,” says Silvana Sansores from Mexico.
Ephrata Mebrat from Ethiopia echoes the sentiment: “Ranum, the place I still call my home, my safe place and my happiness. When I got the chance to go study in Denmark, in a small town where there are no more than 1,000 people, I was a bit scared – but mostly excited. Lucky me – that place was about to change my life,” she says.
Ranum Efterskole Summer School
Most prospective students are drawn by the broad variety of subjects and the international possibilities at the college. In line with this, Ranum Efterskole College collaborates with schools and global educational institutions from all over the world: among its partners are Cambridge Assessment International Education, the Nordic Network of International Schools and UNESCO. In addition to its full learning programmes, the college offers a two to four-week international summer school for students aged 14 to 17 who would like to try the experience before signing up for a full year.
The summer school runs from June to July and offers the opportunity to participate in academic subjects such as English as a Second Language, Philosophy and Science, as well as sporting activities and excursions to the beautiful lakes, forest and fjords in the surrounding area. “The summer school gives students a chance to challenge themselves personally and academically and strengthens their social competences. It is a great opportunity to experience life at an efterskole, learn something new during your holiday, and make friends from all over the world,” says Danaher.
For those curious to see for themselves, Ranum Efterskole College will run an ‘Open House’ at the end of September and second week of January. A visit is the best way to learn more, according to Johannsen. “An efterskole life cannot be described – it must be experienced!” he concludes.
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