From January 1st 2014 Erasmus+ will become the new EU funding programme for education, training, youth and sport. It replaces Comenius, Leonardo, Erasmus, Grundtvig and Transversal as well as other smaller programmes.
Last week I went to a briefing session which was run by Europe Direct Northeast. Here are the main points.
Erasmus+ has a new and different approach to that of the old programmes. Europe is a changed and changing place, and it needs to become more competitive in the face of the new economies of South America and Asia. Priorities are different.
The new programme is much simplified. It is more user-friendly and easier to navigate (not difficult, if you have experience of filling in Comenius application forms!) There is also a substantial budget increase of 40% to €40.8 billion over seven years.
These are the objectives of the programme, against which project applications will be scored:
- improve the level of key competences and skills (especially literacy, numeracy and ICT)
- foster quality improvements, innovation excellence and internationalisation at the level of education and training institutions
- promote European lifelong learning
- enhance the international dimension of education and training
- improve the teaching and learning of languages (a real bonus for the MFL community!)
Amongst the opportunities for individuals, across the EU 800,000 lecturers, teachers, trainers and education staff and youth workers will be able to teach or train abroad. 500,000 young people will be able to volunteer abroad and take part in youth exchanges.
Key Action 1 relates to the Learning mobility of school staff. The aims are to develop school staff competences, such as languages and ICT, and to offer professional development opportunities abroad. The application procedure has changed. In the past, schools completed their own applications and delivered them to the national agency by the given deadline. Now, schools will need to register with the programme and then formulate a strategic two-year international plan. Then they apply for opportunities as and when they come up. The approach, therefore, is now strategic and institutional, and is no longer an opportunity for personal enrichment. It must be whole-school.
There are opportunities for innovation projects and the exchange of good practice. There is funding for 25,000 partnerships involving 125,000 institutions (which works out at about 5 partners per partnership) to share best practice, enhance basic skills and to keep children engaged with their learning. Cross-phase and cross-sector partnerships are encouraged.
eTwinning will take on an enhanced role, with an expected 200,000 teachers collaborating online. Money will be spent redeveloping eTwinning, and more use will be encouraged. It will aim to provide a stronger platform for cooperation between schools and will support all kinds of school cooperation and mobility.
Key Action 2 is for Strategic Partnerships. They aim to develop and implement practices and tools, as well as an exchange of experience and good practice. The funding deadline will probably be March. Successful applications will show transferability of knowledge within partnerships, a clear sense of European identity and an introduction of languages, and will not be just a transfer of materials. If a partnership wishes to meet in one of the partner countries, they will have to demonstrate why they have to meet physically and not online. The meeting will have to lead to something specific. Again, the application procedure is different. In partnerships of just schools, only one application needs to be submitted, by the co-ordinating school. Then the whole partnership will be approved by the co-ordinator's national agency - whole partnerships are selected. This will solve the problem that Comenius school partnerships have had in recent years, where each school applied separately to their national agencies and were approved or not at national level. Partnerships often collapsed when not enough partners were approved by their own national agencies. Partnerships will receive a fixed amount of Euros regardless of where the partners are, and will be based on the number of organisations in the partnership.
Sadly, Comenius Language Assistants and Partner-finding seminars are not a part of Erasmus+.