Schools from across Northern Ireland have been awarded €4.7m in the last four years through a European funding programme.
Since 2014, 57 schools in Northern Ireland have benefited from Erasmus+, the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport, and through it, are hoping to help pupils develop as global citizens.
Erasmus+, which is managed by the British Council and Ecorys UK, offers schools funding for life-changing international activities – including funding to help internationalise students through learning foreign languages, having access to staff with international experience, learning with peers from other countries and cultures, and engaging in international collaboration via online learning.
The number of schools to benefit from the programme is only set to increase in 2019, with €36 million proposed for UK schools, up from €30 million in 2018.
One school hoping to benefit is St Paul’s High School in Newry. They have been using British Council’s online partner-finding tool eTwinning, and this has helped them find partner schools across Europe - and now through it – hope to apply for Erasmus+ funding.
Christelle Bernard, a French and Spanish teacher at the school recently attended a cross-border eTwinning seminar in Belfast, which was jointly run by British Council and Léargas.
Speaking at the event, she said: “We have been using eTwinning for a number of years now and currently carry out two to four projects a year, partnering with schools across Europe – including in France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Turkey.
“Through eTwinning, we have been able to find reliable partners, have access to a wide-range of teachers and been able to embed languages more in to our curriculum by combining projects with our ICT, Arts and Maths departments.
“Because we have these foundations, we now feel in a position to apply for Erasmus+ funding, and are hoping to apply for both teacher training funding, as well as a bigger project with schools in Macedonian and Turkey around the theme of resilience and citizenship.
“eTwinning is the best way to start if you are thinking of applying for Erasmus+ - there is no paperwork, it’s free and all you need to do is register. I would recommend the programme to any school thinking of applying for funding.”
Also speaking about the programme was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.
He said: “Our international partnerships are at the heart of everything we do and initiatives such as Erasmus+ enable students to understand issues of worldwide importance, gain a sense of social responsibility and develop the skills they need to succeed in a global workplace.
“The funding available to the UK in 2018 is at its highest to date, at around €187m, and there are a few changes to the programme which should make it easier for schools to apply. Schools new to the programme in Northern Ireland can apply for funding under school exchange partnerships or for staff mobility funding, so that they can benefit from links with schools across Europe.”
For schools interested in applying for Erasmus+ funding in 2019, the British Council are offering a number of information sessions, both online and in person – including an information session in their Belfast office on January 10 2019. Teachers can find out more and sign up to these here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/etwinning/funding
Funding deadlines for Erasmus+ 2019 have been announced and schools can apply through www.erasmusplus.org.uk. There are two key application deadlines: 5 February and 21 March 2019 at 11AM UK time.
Erasmus+ 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