Local Goal Getter Anouk Willems from IKC de Geluksvogel

This week we’re putting a spotlight on the Local Goal Getter Anouk Willems from IKC de Geluksvogel. In 2009, Anouk became a teacher at primary school het Spoor, with a location in Nazareth and in Limmel. From being a teacher, she moved on to management and eventually became the director. Anouk’s main motivation are the children: In what way can we give them good education?

In January 2017, the locations of het Spoor merged into a newly built eco-school, IKC de Geluksvogel. The building makes it clear that education in de Geluksvogel is not limited by walls. There is a nature schoolyard where children can play. When you walk into the building, the light catches your eye. The studios have window facades that lets you bathe in light. The studios are not furnished like traditional classrooms, but have flexible furniture. For example, the tables are arranged in semicircles. In the middle of the ground floor you will find a square with all kinds of toys, meant for education. There is also the possibility to teach on the green roof.

Innovative concept

“De Geluksvogel is of course the best school in Maastricht and surroundings! It is an integral child center, so a primary school and childcare, but also works with various partners such as Maastricht Sport, speech therapy, occupational therapists and a social worker. De Geluksvogel leads the way with our innovative concept. Instead of being tied to a classroom, the groups change from ateliers and school subject specialists.” So, in each atelier a different school subject is taught at the level of the classes. Class 1 and 2  use the central square, and class 3 and 4 cross together. For example, one group goes to the mathematics atelier and the other to geography. At the 2nd floor, there is an interaction between class 5 up to and including 8.

In addition to the main subjects, there are creative subjects as well, such as music and movement. De Geluksvogel uses the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), an English curriculum that has been adjusted to the Dutch education system. In that way, the school works with themes in which almost all subjects plus the eco-school part are involved (SDG#4). This is done through collaborations with, for example, CNME.

Geluksvogel kind centrum

Beautiful but challenging

However, with this way of teaching comes a challenge. “The children are from Nazareth and Limmel. These are neighbourhoods with a low socioeconomic status, which means that children receive less support and stimulation from home. We try to fill this gap with our education, that is why we offer a wide range of subjects. We want to provide enough creative subjects, but the children have a lot of trouble with the main subjects. That makes it difficult.”

Collaboration for the children

Because the children of de Geluksvogel come from neighbourhoods with low socioeconomic status, the team is trying to work on SDG#10, reducing inequalities, and SDG#1, no poverty. One way on how they do this is through collaboration with directors of Mosa Lira schools with similar populations. Periodic meetings are held to discuss subsidy options. “It is not a certainty that every child comes to school with a lunch box or has a winter coat,” said Anouk. In addition, de Geluksvogel works with a social worker that looks beyond educational problems. “Maybe the problem has something to do with the mother. In that case, we look for a way to help the mother, in order to help the child in education. “

This proves that de Geluksvogel pays a lot of attention to the health and well-being of the children (SDG#3). “And of course also to the well-being of my staff! Especially during Corona it is important to keep everyone going.”


Together with the neighbourhood 

Besides this, de Geluksvogel works closely with the neighbourhood (SDG#17). One of their network partners is Radar. They have a day activity centre where the children go regularly, or the children from Radar come to visit de Geluksvogel. “In this way, the children of de Geluksvogel learn that physically or mentally disabled people are not strange.” In the context of the eco-school that encourages children to think and act sustainably, there was also a collaboration with the Hotelschool on the subject of hygiene. Another theme was waste separation, which is reflected in the beautifully painted waste bins (SDG#13).

SDGs Focus

Saying goodbye 

This school year, Anouk will transfer to child center Wolder and will hand over de Geluksvogel to her successor. “My goal is to transfer my ‘child’ de Geluksvogel in good hands. What I would like to pass on to my successor is one of our core values: preserve the courage. Okay is not good enough, go further! I want to be convinced that my successor will embrace and develop de Geluksvogel. “

What will be Anouk’s next challenge at child center Wolder? “The results are good. But I want to get more out of the children. I want to look for their other talents!”

Our next Local Goal Getter will be Chris Meijs. He is the chairman of the Limmel neighbourhood council, as a volunteer. Anouk Willems suggested him because together with the neighbourhood council, he made a whole environmental vision with the Geluksvogel as a starting point for sustainability.