Erasmus funding for schools

Written by: Susan Linklater | Published:
Broadening horizons: Students from the Meadowhead School Academy Trust in Sheffield visiting Zaragoza in Spain during an Erasmus+ trips

Erasmus+ is not just for university study – a significant portion of the funding goes to further education and schools. Susan Linklater explains

People may think that Erasmus+ is just for studying at universities abroad. But half of the Erasmus+ funding goes to further education, schools, adult education and youth organisations for young people and staff to spend a period of time abroad.

UK schools will get more than €21 million in European Union Erasmus+ funding this year, up from €16.5 million in 2016. This will pay for about 300 projects led by schools, academies and local authorities.

With the UK taking part in Erasmus+ as usual in 2018, and application deadlines having just been announced, €30 million is available to UK schools to apply for Erasmus+ activities in 2018.

Part of this will enable CPD, such as teaching assignments, job shadowing and training abroad, but most of the money will go to school partnership projects between schools in the UK and other European countries on topics including language learning, digital skills, entrepreneurship, tackling early school-leaving, boosting attainment, and inclusion.

This budget increase for partnerships represents a massive opportunity for schools to enable pupils and teachers to take part in the new School Exchange Partnerships.

The new Erasmus+ School Exchange Partnerships are one of the few routes of funded pupil exchanges available, as pupils of any age can go abroad for as little as three days at a time, and 14-plus pupils can go abroad for up to a year. They can also involve staff exchanges with partner schools. The application process has also been simplified.

What are the benefits?

So why do it? Well, 80 per cent of pupils who participated in European school partnerships say it improved their sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, while 70 per cent said it increased their digital skills.

Recent British Council research highlighted that international links improved 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, and also better equipped them to question racist and sexist attitudes.

The programmes have also been shown to have a positive effect on the performance of under-achieving learners, who became more focused and motivated, resulting in improved behaviour in classrooms and around the school.

International education was found to contribute towards a more open-minded attitude with regard to global issues, and a belief that learners have the ability to take action and bring about a change locally.

Around 2,000 teachers who participated in Erasmus+ CPD in 2016 reported that the experience had increased their job satisfaction, which may in turn contribute to greater teacher retention.

So, what’s it like?

Tendring Technology College, a large comprehensive school, is working with partner schools across Europe to compare their school education of refugees and immigrants and raising staff and pupils’ awareness of global issues.

In September 2016, the school secured more than €21,000 of funding for a project entitled Every Child Matters – Refugees and Immigrants in Education. The school in north east Essex has partner schools in Turkey, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

The project involves online and face-to-face activities to expand the understanding of each other’s cultures and language and to raise staff and pupils’ awareness of inequality, conflict and sustainable development. Over the 18 months of the project, about 70 pupils and 30 staff took part in exchanges and meetings.

In the first exchange, four students joined partner schools in Palermo, Italy, for five days. Students prepared short presentations on their own country’s immigration and looked at how each country deals with refugees. In their second exchange in Greece, pupils interviewed immigrants and refugees working collaboratively to create refugee stories.

Ellie Moss, a student from year 8 who went to Greece, said: “The project has been a very inspiring and eye-opening experience which has helped with my confidence. It is such an amazing opportunity for everyone.”

Valentina Burley, a co-ordinator from the school, added: “One of the most important benefits was mixing with international groups in a school setting. Those who visited the Mythelini refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, said that they found the experience humbling and different to how things are portrayed in the media.”

Participating students and staff experienced first-hand what it is like in other countries and in other school education systems. They developed and increased key 21st century skills in critical thinking, communication and cooperation, while having their minds broadened to appreciate other people’s points of view and perspectives.

  • Susan Linklater is Erasmus+ schools lead with the British Council.

Further information

In October 2017, the European Commission announced two 2018 deadlines for different types of Erasmus+ funding. These are in early February and late March. Visit www.erasmusplus.org.uk/schools-funding and www.erasmusplus.org.uk/funding-deadlines


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