Friday 18 September 2015


Schools across Northern Ireland could go global thanks to a new European funding programme.

Erasmus+, which is managed in the UK by the British Council and Ecorys UK, offers a wide range of opportunities for pupils and teachers to participate and exchange activities across Europe.

The programme takes over from Comenius, which previously provided funding for schools, with funding split into two areas: — Key Action 1 mobility projects for teaching or training staff abroad; and Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships, to develop innovation and exchange of good practices across schools, local and regional authorities and other sectors.

 2014 was the first year of Erasmus+, with Northern Ireland receiving €6.5m in funding and 50 organisations reaping the benefits — including 15 schools.

 St Mary’s Primary in Mullaghabawn was one of these success stories, receiving €79,725 through the programme.

 Working with five countries across Europe, St Mary’s aimed to promote IT skills, environmental awareness, a second language and even a happier work environment. In addition to this, the school also received mobility funding to allow teachers to visit other educational settings across Europe and attend international training courses.

According to Ciara Crawley, the Erasmus+ Coordinator at the school, this funding will help the pupils and teachers in insurmountable ways. She said: “Through the project we hope to open our pupils’ minds so that they are not afraid to travel in later life, while also helping them acquire a second language. Even the younger pupils know what Erasmus+ is, and we can see that they’re already making new friends and connections

“Hopefully Erasmus+ will make them feel part of the European community, while also enhancing their career paths and broadening their outlook on the world."

For Ciara, the benefits of the programme are far-reaching.

She said: “We firmly believe that a good project impacts on not only the school involved, but also the wider community, to which each school belongs. Here at St Mary’s we’ve developed a real community spirit — working with parents and grandparents and others within the local area. It's really important for us to have their support."

Also speaking about the programme was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, he said: “'It is encouraging to see primary and post-primary schools from across Northern Ireland benefitting from Erasmus+ funding and we are hopeful when the new funding calls are opened in the autumn that even more schools will be able to participate and develop new partnerships and opportunities across Europe.

"Erasmus+ provides many opportunities for Northern Ireland schools to work internationally, which can enhance professional development of staff as well as broaden horizons of pupils. This international outlook can only add value to both those directly involved in the school but also the wider community."

Schools looking to apply to Erasmus+ will find a range of online tools to support them through the process such as the School Education Gateway portal (, which is a partner and opportunities finding tool, and eTwinning (, where you can start, grow or extend your partnership or Erasmus+ project.

There’s a whole world of opportunities for schools within Erasmus+. 

Funding for Erasmus+ funding should open in November 2015. Keep up to date on , on Twitter and Facebook. 

Notes to Editor

1. About Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is the new European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. It significantly increases EU funding (+40%) with an overall budget of €14.7 billion (£12 billion) for the development of knowledge and skills and aims to increase the quality and relevance of qualifications and skills. Two-thirds of its funding will provide grants for more than 4 million people to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad in 2014-2020 (compared with 2.7 million in 2007-2013). The period abroad can range from a few days up to a year. In the UK, it is expected that nearly 250,000 people will undertake activities abroad with the programme. Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of Lifelong Learning, including schools education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector. Erasmus+ provides funding for organisations to offer opportunities to students, teachers, apprentices, volunteers, youth leaders and people working in grassroots’ sport. It will also provide funding for partnerships between organisations such as educational institutions, youth organisations, enterprises, local and regional authorities and NGOs, as well as support for reforms in Member States to modernise education and training and to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability. Erasmus+ replaces the former Erasmus, Comenius, Youth in Action, Leonardo, Grundtvig and Transversal programmes which ran from 2007-2013.

When referring to Erasmus+, please use the phrase `The Erasmus+ UK National Agency is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK`.

Further information from 


2. British Council Northern Ireland

British Council Northern Ireland creates international opportunities for the people of Northern Ireland and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.  A quarter of our funding comes from a UK government grant, and we earn the rest from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for, and from partnerships. For more information, please visit:

You can also keep in touch with British Council Northern Ireland through, and


3. About Ecorys UK

Ecorys UK, part of the international research, consulting and management services company Ecorys, provides high-quality communication, research and technical assistance services across education, economic and social policy areas. Ecorys employs over 150 staff in the UK specialising in education and culture, employment and labour markets, economic and international development, communications, public grant managed programmes and capacity building. Our mission is to add value to public service delivery through our experience of the entire policy cycle. 

Further information from

About the British Council

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager, British Council Northern Ireland

T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI  Facebook: