The Erasmus+ programme
During the last 7 years, more than 4 million teachers and school staff have travelled across Europe to meet their colleagues and peers from other countries, and take part in international activities, all funded by the Erasmus+ programme.
Didn’t you know that Erasmus funds teachers’ mobility too?
There are two more good pieces of news:
- The new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027) has an almost doubled budget.
- In this article, I have covered all you need to know about the new Erasmus+ programme.
There is no excuse not to start planning your next mobility project right away.
Enjoy the article, and remember, if you need assistance with an Erasmus+ project, Europass Teacher Academy is here to help you!
What is Erasmus+?
Are you already familiar with Erasmus+?
Then, you may skip to the next section.
Otherwise, you may like to know that Erasmus+ represents one of the real efforts made by the European Union to promote the internationalization and modernization of schools.
Teachers have taken this opportunity to follow training courses abroad and learn new teaching strategies, develop innovative teaching tools, meet people of different nationalities and cultures, and practice a foreign language.
Accompanying their classes, they have also developed school exchange programs.
Within Erasmus+, networks of schools have also implemented international projects to promote innovation and share best practices at different levels of school organization.
While for some teachers, joining the Programme has given them the possibility of visiting another European country for the first time, for many schools, it has also pushed them to complete medium and long-term planning, and achieve a European vocation.
The New Programme (2021-2027)
While the Erasmus+ programme established in 2014 was concluded at the end of 2020, the new edition of the Programme is ready to start…
… after a few months of delay! Given what we know at present, the publication of the new guide has been delayed from December 2020 to April 2021.
The new Programme appears to be dedicated to strengthening the actions of the previous Programme and expanding its horizons, thanks to the significant rise in available resources and focused attention on the inclusion of the most disadvantaged categories.
It has seen its budget almost doubled, from 14.7 to 26 billion euros, and aims to fund 10 million mobility projects over the next seven years.
Compared to the previous one, it looks more ambitious, open, and inclusive.
Let me tell you why.
First, it is more ambitious, because it aims to develop the strategic European dimension of the involved schools and organizations.
Most funding will be devolved to those schools manifesting a clear intention to develop their international dimension and to participate in European projects on a continuous basis.
Second, it will be more open, because it will not leave behind schools and organizations that have never met the Programme before, and have less resources and/or logistic capacities.
It will dedicate special calls for applications for these organizations, and support them to familiarize themselves with the Programme, and take part in simpler projects that are easier to implement.
Openness also refers to the Programme’s possibilities being extended to new participants. The possibilities of professional development offered by the Programme will now be open also to pre-schools and kindergartens.
Finally, the new Programme will be more inclusive because it will aim to involve the participation of everyone, with budget costs expressly dedicated to the necessities of students with special needs (e.g., mobility funding for an accompanying person, or for the rent of special vehicles for transportation).
Participating schools will also be able to use a special part of their grant funding for the linguistic preparation of the participants. At present, it is clear that this will include participation in online courses although it is unknown whether it will also include face-to-face classes.
Inclusion also refers to digital inclusion. The new Programme will officially consider the possibility of blended mobility. Schools will be able to plan some international activities as online meetings, thus expanding the means available to engage even more participants than before.
Blended mobility is an additional opportunity to make the Programme more open and flexible in adapting to the needs of all participants, and the new edition has formally acknowledged that. A nice addition for the Programme’s inclusivity!
The Structure of the new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027)
The new Erasmus+ programme confirms the general framework constituted by the three Key Actions (KA) for the education sectors (formal, non-formal and informal) which were already established in the previous Programme.
In particular, the two Key Actions 1 and 2 (KA1 and KA2) will remain central to the school sector.
Do you know what’s the main difference among them?
Let me tell you…
While Key Action 1 are promoted by single schools (or, at most, a national consortium of schools) Key Actions 2 are accessible only to international networks of schools and organizations, who prepare a project proposal together.
Let’s see together some more details.
Key Action 1 – Individual Mobility
This chance of funding is conceived for individual schools or organizations. Schools can also create a consortium to share the effort to manage a project and create new synergies.
It is a novelty of the new Programme that consortia will no longer be closed to new members after their creation.
Thus, if your school missed a deadline to apply with a project proposal, it can still try to participate in the call by joining a national consortium whose proposal has been approved.
The calls for actions in this category will allow teachers and student from the funded school to travel abroad for different reasons.
- Professional training for teachers and school staff. These projects will let participants take face-to face courses for professional development abroad.
International courses really represent an exceptional experience to acquire new professional skills while having a break from ordinary work, with colleagues from all over the Union.
Teachers are always very excited at the end. International training courses really are a good means to bring back motivation and satisfaction in a teacher’s daily work…
… we can say this with certainty as we mainly work by organizing them!
- Sharing of good teaching practices. These projects make teachers travel abroad to teach their subject in another school, or to assist a teacher from a foreign school in their daily duties.
They are very indicated to language teachers, who might more easily adapt to teaching to native students from a different mother tongue, or to new teachers, who may benefit more from job shadowing opportunities.
These activities are not limited, however, to the teachers just mentioned… any teacher should consider whether to participate!
- Student mobility. These projects will allow classes of students to travel across Europe, and visit a foreign school.
The presence of these activities here among Key Action 1 is a huge novelty of the new Programme.
It implies that schools will not need to form an international partnership (KA2) in order to implement school exchange activities.
Due to this, a school will not risk losing its funding because a foreign partner withdrew its participation in the project.
Moreover, similarly to all other projects within Key Action 1, it will be possible to include a project of mobility of school staff and students in the activities benefitting from Erasmus accreditation, hence to plan school exchanges on a continuous basis for five (or even seven!) years.
Of all the novelties of the new Programme, the creation of the Erasmus accreditation procedure for Key Actions 1 is largely the most significant.
Would you like to know more about it?
Continue reading, or skip to the section about Erasmus Accreditation!
Key Action 2 – Strategic partnerships
This chance of funding is conceived for transnational networks of schools and/or organizations (“partnerships”.) To be eligible for these actions, schools must first form an international network, and then apply under the guide of a school coordinating the partnership.
These actions admit 3 different objectives.
- Cooperation and exchange of good practices. These are the most common projects.
They allow schools to create international networks, participate in common meetings, and reinforce the capacities of each participant organization by sharing their best practices in dealing with a certain topic or issue.
- Innovation. These more ambitious partnerships aim to create something new by sharing the expertise of the schools and organizations participating in the network.
Here are some of the things you may consider creating: new teaching activities and modalities, guidelines and job-aids for teachers or school professionals, novel assessment tools, innovative taxonomies and procedures, digital platforms and learning systems…
… only imagination can limit your possibilities!
- Research projects. These partnerships are open to cooperation with universities and other higher education institutions to produce new research.
Key Action 3 – Support for policy reform
This action is dedicated to centralized Erasmus+ activities, that is, to high-level project actions with significant funding—thus, it is less important for educational institutions.
Usually, these activities are not dealt with by National Agencies but are mostly managed by the Executive Agency (EACEA) through specific calls for project applications.
Jean Monnet Actions
Jean Monnet Actions aim to promote the excellence in teaching and research in the field of the studies on the European Union, and in particular of the process of integration in both its internal and external features.
They have been traditionally dedicated to higher education but in the new Programme will also include the participations of schools.
This is another significant change introduced in the new Programme, which aims to develop the active participation to the democratic life of the Union to all EU citizens.
Jean Monnet Networks in Other Field of Education and Training
Jean Monnet Networks in Other Field of Education and Training aims to improve and share teaching practices on European Union subjects while also providing an international insight for teachers. Teachers may take part in mobility experiences of a few days in other Programme countries to organise and deliver co-teaching / co-tutoring. Moreover, they should gather and discuss teaching methodologies for curricular and extracurricular activities about the EU through physical and online meetings and disseminate good practices by producing documents and guidelines.
This action requires a minimum of 5 schools established in at least 3 different Programme countries, it lasts 3 years and it has a maximum EU contribution of 300,000 EUR.
Erasmus Accreditation for KA1 projects in schools
The possibility of Erasmus accreditation for Key Action 1 (KA1) is one of the most interesting developments for schools involved in the new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027).
So, what is it all about?
The old Programme already included the Erasmus accreditation tools for vocational education and training (VET) and higher education, but the new Erasmus+ programme also makes it accessible to the school sector.
Erasmus Accreditation is like a ‘loyalty card’, similar to those distributed by large chain shops or supermarkets, but in this case, it is specifically for schools of all types and levels.
A school needs to be accredited only once in the seven years of the Programme (2021-2027).
This is sufficient in order to make it recognized by the National Agency as an organization that deals with international mobility on a regular basis. Hence, the school that receives the Accreditation will not need to apply again for it within the 2021-2027 Programme.
To apply, educational institutions have to outline their own strategy for medium- and long-term internationalization and modernization by presenting a European Development Plan (PSE) and an Erasmus+ Plan.
They must also commit to meeting Erasmus+ quality standards, which specify how the international activity described in the plan will be organized to guarantee the quality of the mobilities with respect to a series of topics (management, support for participants, expected results, communication of results).
Receiving the Erasmus accreditation has many advantages.
In fact, once the candidate school has been accepted, it will benefit from a stable source of funding for the whole duration of the Programme, simplified application procedures in response to Erasmus+ calls, as well as a quicker evaluation of their applications.
Participation in the Erasmus+ programme in 2021
The Erasmus accreditation Programme for schools has had an early start compared to the new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027).
In fact, the first application window closed on October 29, 2020.
If you missed that deadline, however, don’t worry!
Your school still has many opportunities to participate in the Erasmus Programme even in 2021.
First, Key Actions 1 will propose one particular action—i.e., short-term projects—dedicated specifically to non-accredited organizations.
Short-term projects will allow a smaller number of participants to take part in international mobility, and will have shorter duration.
These restrictions, however, make preparing an application simpler. Thus, short-term projects constitute a perfect entry point for schools with no experience in the Programme.
A second possibility is to join a consortium that has already been accredited.
You can also consider making your school act as a hosting organization for another accredited foreign school.
Finally, don’t forget that the call for the accreditation will reopen every year!
If your school didn’t manage to get accredited this year, it can still apply again the following year (the next deadline is likely expected for October 2021).
How to participate in the Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027)
If you’ve made it this far, you have already discovered many of the original opportunities offered by the new Erasmus+ Program.
Would you like to participate?
Luckily, thanks to some changes mentioned above, participating in the Erasmus+ programme has never been easier.
Do you want to know how?
I have prepared a self-paced online course, The New Erasmus+ Programme Made Easy, that will show you how to apply (you can try the first module for free).
The course explains step-by-step what you need to do to prepare an effective project with high chances to be funded.
Below are some quick tips for maximizing your chance of success.
Preparing an application
Preparing an application is not an immediate process, and it requires careful planning.
It is useful to assign a small group of people to manage the more technical aspects, but also remember to get your institution’s governing bodies and school community involved in the process.
This is the only way an Erasmus+ project can receive the approval and support of the entire school community necessary to complete it.
Link financing requests to real needs
The first aspect to understand before completing an effective application is that the financing requests have to be linked to the real needs of the school applying for the project.
In fact, current European funding for the school sector is increasingly linked to the implementation of organic projects meeting the needs of the participating institutions.
Such needs must be expressed in a document known as the European Development Plan (EDP).
The European Development Plan does not specifically concern the project you’re making an application for but instead refers to the general internationalization strategy of the school, and is integrated with all other school planning documents.
It explains the context in which the different calls a school intends to participate in are linked in a harmonious vision of its European strategy.
Once the school has expressed its needs and requirements in the European Development Plan, preparing an application then requires you to develop a design idea, that you will elaborate more fully later.
Find partner organizations & create a partnership
With the draft of the project idea in hand, you will be able to identify an open Erasmus+ call that is consistent with your own objectives and find partner organizations (which are very often other schools) with which you can create a partnership (and that allows you to present a single application).
This last step isn’t obligatory because lots of calls also allow schools to participate individually, but it will instead be essential to participate in more complex calls such as those related to Key Action 2.
Write the project & upload it
Having established your working group and the partner organization, you will now be in the best position to write an actual project.
This part is not difficult, but it will be easier if you both master the specific vocabulary, and know the basic principles of project manager and euro-planning.
Once the various members of the partnership have approved the project, you will be ready to upload it on the European digital platform.
To this aim, you must accredit and register your school on the platform by obtaining its OID code (Organization Identification Code, the old PIC code!).
The more carefully you planned your work in the previous phases, the easier this phrase will be.
If you have thought in advance about the details of the project implementation (such as the budget, management aspects, identification and communication of results), at this moment you will have to do no more than copy and paste the individual sections of the project that you have already written!
Do you want to join the Erasmus+ programme? Are you ready to go?
If you feel like having some support, consider taking the online course The New Erasmus+ Programme Made Easy (the first module is available for free).
What kind of mobility activities would you like to organize for your school?
Tell us more in the comments!