Tuesday 29 September 2015


St Colman’s Primary School in Annaclone may only be home to 200 pupils, but they’ve got their eyes on the world. 

The school’s aiming to gain a more international outlook, having recently secured funding through Erasmus+,  A European funding programme managed by the British Council and Ecorys UK, which enables them to partner with seven other schools across Europe — Norway, Turkey, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia and Romania.

The two-year project, entitled Bridging the Generations, aims to help bring families together though play – with children learning traditional games from grandparents, and then teaching their elders about the digital world. 

To celebrate, the school recently held a European Day of Languages were each class adopted one of the countries, dressed up, and learned about their culture, language, games and customs. This included everything from Bulgarian fire walking, to taste-testing French cuisine and learning Norwegian. 

Speaking about the project was Vice Principal Kevin O’Neill.

He said: “In this era of digital literacy, there’s a greater need for technology in the classroom, but this has resulted in a loss of traditional games passed down through the generations. Likewise, the older generation aren’t so comfortable with this new technology.  Through this programme we hope to all learn from each other as well as bring our own communities together.

“The project will help our teachers in insurmountable ways – with budgets being cut for professional development opportunities, this is one of the few ways we can help to develop and improve. All our teachers will also have a chance to visit one of the other countries, which is a nice reward in some ways, for working so hard on the project. 

“But the people that benefit the most are the children. It’s not only a fun way for them to start the year, but it’s also vital, especially with the recent cuts,  for them to see the importance of language, want to be part of a European society and realise it has a place in their future.”

Through the project a DVD and e-book will eventually be produced, along with the development of a HD project. But for St Colman’s the biggest event will take place in 2017.

Mr O’Neill said: “In 2017 our small school will host the other seven schools, and for a small place like Annaclone, you can imagine how special that will be. It will be really exciting to bring all four corners of Europe to our small village and we look forward to hosting them.”

St Colman’s found its partner schools through British Council’s partner finding programme, eTwinning. 

About the process, Mr O’Neill said: “As a school with no previous European partners we found eTwinning really simple. Within an hour of joining we received an influx of offers and are really happy with our partners – they are all lovely schools and we look forward to learning from them. Educationally Norway for example, is really futuristic, while in Bulgaria they focus on a more traditional type of learning, which is fascinating.”

Also speaking about the programme was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, he said: “'It is encouraging to see schools such as St Colman’s 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 (http://www.schooleducationgateway.eu/), which is a partner and opportunities finding tool, and eTwinning (www.britishcouncil.org/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 www.erasmusplus.org.uknireland.britishcouncil.org , on Twitter and Facebook. For more information on eTwinning visit www.britishcouncil.org/etwinning.

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 www.erasmusplus.org.uk 


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: http://nireland.britishcouncil.org

You can also keep in touch with British Council Northern Ireland through https://twitter.com/BCouncil_NI, www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland and http://blog.britishcouncil.org.


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 www.uk.ecorys.com



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 Claire.McAuley@britishcouncil.org Twitter: @BCouncil_NI  Facebook: www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland