Irish-medium school Coláiste Feirste, will take part in a pioneering language project after being awarded funding through the EU’s new Erasmus+ programme.
The programme, which is managed by the British Council and Ecorys UK, will enable the Belfast school to send four teachers to study a brand new CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) course at the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.
Coláiste Feirste is one of ten schools in Northern Ireland to secure a Key Action 1 grant through the scheme.
The four teachers, who specialise in drama, geography, history and maths, will head off to the Spanish Isles at the end of October to learn how games-based methodology can be used to teach a foreign language - with a follow-up course taking place in Berlin in early 2015.
The course, which is run by InterActing, will see them joined by teachers from Germany, Romania and Spain, to share best practice and enhance their knowledge of how to use games to drive all parts of the learning process.
Speaking about the scheme, Principle Mícheál Mac Giolla Ghunna, said: “Coláiste Feirste has developed successfully because it is innovative and collaborative. We are excited at this opportunity to send four teachers to the CLIL course in Gran Canaria through Erasmus+.
“We want to find out how teachers in other countries are developing language through subject content. Our teachers will then come back and try our new strategies in the classroom and share their findings with other teachers. This is another way in which we can improve our teaching practices and pupil learning experience.”
Coláiste Feirste, an Irish-medium post-primary school, was chosen for the project for its impressive bilingual background.
Edward Cousins, Co-Founder and Director at InterActing, the firm behind the CLIL course, said: “Coláiste Feirste is one of the few already bilingual schools in Northern Ireland and we wanted to make use of that when testing out this new method.
“The school already works through a technique known as Immersion, where nearly 100 per cent of the class is taught in a foreign language. This is very similar to CLIL, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a big journey for them.
“What makes it even better is that the whole school is embracing the project and are keen to get on board – it therefore shouldn’t be too long until the programme is rolled-out to every classroom.”
Eramsus+ runs from 2014 to 2020 and will see UK organisations involved in education, training, youth and sport working with partners across Europe and beyond to help students and young people to study, train or volunteer abroad.
Speaking about Erasmus+, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said: “Erasmus+ offers a significant opportunity for young people in Northern Ireland to benefit from study, training, volunteering and professional development across Europe.
“The programme aims to boost skills and employability as well as modernise education, training, and youth work across Europe. It has a budget of approximately €14.7bn across Europe and will, over the next seven years, provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad and will also support transnational partnerships between education, training and youth organisations, as well as support grassroots sport projects.
In the UK this means almost €1 billion will be provided over the next seven years to help people in the UK gain crucial international skills.
“For schools, the programme aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning from pre-primary through to secondary level, with opportunities available next year for more schools in Northern Ireland to apply and take part. Schools can find more information about new calls for 2015 at the website, www.erasmusplus.org.uk.”
The new Erasmus+ programme significantly increases EU funding with an overall budget of £12bn for the development of knowledge and skills.
The Erasmus+ Programme is just one of a number of programmes available to schools through British Council Northern Ireland. For more information visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org, www.erasmusplus.org.uk or follow on Twitter at @BCouncil_NI