People tend to assume that the Erasmus+ programme is just for studying at universities abroad. In fact, half of all Erasmus+ funding is received by further education, schools, adult education and youth organisations to fund collaborative projects and enable young people and staff to spend a period of time abroad.
In 2018, UK schools will receive over 30 million in European Union Erasmus+ funding, up from ¤21 million in 2017, which will help pay for around 500 projects led by schools, academies and LAs.
The UK is committed to full participation in Erasmus+, and successful projects which can start later this year will be funded for their duration. With greater funding available and increased opportunities, there’s never been a better time to apply for a European project.
As well as enabling opportunities for CPD, such as teaching assignments, job shadowing and training abroad, the funding can also support partnership projects between schools in the UK and other European countries on topics including language-learning, digital skills and classroom inclusion, and help pupils develop an international outlook.
The increase in budget for school partnerships represents a massive opportunity for schools to take part in our new School Exchange Partnerships. These are one of the few available routes to funded pupil exchanges, allowing pupils of any age to go abroad for as few as three days at a time, and can involve staff exchanges with partner schools. Each school can apply for up to ¤16,500 per year of their project.
80% of pupils who have participated in European school partnerships say it improved their sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, while 70% said it increased their digital skills.
A recent British Council report further highlighted that international links improved pupils’ reading, writing and communication skills, and understanding of cultural and religious behaviour. Interactions with pupils overseas highlighted similarities and differences between them and their peers, better equipping them to question prejudice.
International activity has also been shown to have a positive effect on the performance of underachieving learners, who became more focussed and motivated, resulting in improved behaviour in classrooms and around the school.
St Nicholas Church in Wales Primary School, for example, wanted to give its pupils an international outlook and linked with schools in Germany, Hungary and Denmark to run an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership digital skills project called ‘Innovate With LEGO Education. It was also awarded funding for a mobility project to allow two members of staff to job shadow lessons in Denmark.
Around 2,000 teachers who participated in Erasmus+ CPD in 2016 reported that the experience had increased their job satisfaction, thus in turn contributing to improved teacher retention.
Liz Neil is Erasmus+ schools lead at the British Council.