Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education
Léargas was established by the Department of Education and Skills in 1986. It is responsible for supporting international exchanges and collaboration in the fields of Schools, Youth, Vocational Education and Training, and Adult Education. Léargas is the Irish National Agency for Erasmus+ and administers the programme across these fields.
Erasmus+ provides funding and support for organisations to operate projects which encourage European exchange, co-operation and learning. Erasmus+ is funded by the European Union through the contributions of member states, including Ireland. Funding of almost €170 million has been allocated to Ireland for the duration of the programme, 2014-2020.
Erasmus+ funding is available to all sectors of formal, informal and non-formal education. Structurally, Erasmus+ is divided into three ‘Key Actions’ describing the kind of project activities possible:
- Key Action 1 - Learning mobility of individuals;
- Key action 2 - Co-operation for innovation and the exchange of good practice, and supporting strategic partnerships;
- Key action 3 support for policy reform, and structured dialogue between young people and decision makers in the field of youth.
Erasmus+ aims to modernise and improve the quality of teaching, training and youth work across Europe, and to support the development, transfer and implementation of innovative practices. These objectives are closely tied with the Europe 2020 strategy of achieving a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020 for all of Europe’s citizens. Fundamental goals for Erasmus+ include improving key competences and skills, and fostering partnerships between education and employment. The programme also seeks to promote European values as stated in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Erasmus+ provided funding to Irish schools from pre-school to upper secondary level to carry out a wide range of projects involving staff, learners and the wider school community. Schools can send their staff to other participating countries for teaching assignments, job-shadowing or training (under Key Action 1), or cooperate with other organisations to meet common challenges in innovative ways (under Key Action 2).
Examples of staff mobility projects under Key Action 1 include training courses, job shadowing and teaching assignments. The priorities in promoting strategic partnerships were:
Reducing early school leaving;
- Improving attainment in literacy and numeracy;
- Increasing participation in higher education;
- Improving and modernising education systems;
- Enhancing the quality of early childhood education;
In 2018, Leargas supported 98 projects involving the mobility of over 4,500 participants’ further details are available here.
Leargas also supports eTwinning – the community for schools in Europe. eTwinning is a free online platform comprising 750,000 teachers across Europe. It links a community of 1700 Irish schools with European schools. It supports schools from early childhood to post-primary level to find partners and work on joint projects in any curricular area, using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). eTwinning is recommended as a collaborative tool in the DES ‘Digital Strategy for Schools, 2015-2020’.
On the dedicated website www.etwinning.net, schools can create a profile, search for partners, browse ongoing and completed projects, and develop their own project ideas. Once a school has found a partner and agreed a project plan, they can register their project and access a specially created private and secure online ‘Twinspace’. Teachers can invite their students to the Twinspace using secure logins and tailor their editing rights as appropriate.
Léargas appoints eTwinning Ambassadors - teachers who share their passion for eTwinning with the wider community. They communicate their experiences with eTwinning to other schools and teachers, and make known the advantages of participation. There are currently 17 Irish eTwinning ambassadors located around the Republic of Ireland.
Teachers can also avail of national and international CPD training events through eTwinning. These courses cover areas of professional development, teacher methodologies and digital technologies and take place both online and face-to-face.
Léargas also manages three language programmes on behalf of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
The European Day of Languages is celebrated across Europe on 26 September each year, and promotes and celebrates the diversity of languages in Europe.
The European Language Label is an award given annually to individuals or projects to recognise outstanding results in language learning or teaching.
The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) offers the opportunity to attend workshops or participate in projects that encourage excellence and innovation in language teaching and learning.
Leargas promotes awareness of the opportunities available to schools under Erasmus+ through:
- Extensive promotion and constant updating of the Léargas website at www.leargas.ie
- Several national and regional information meetings each year
- Periodic sub-programme newsletters and flyers, circulated in hard copy and via the Léargas website
- Nomination of a selection of prominent young Irish sportspersons, actors and journalists to the EC for consideration as ‘Youth Mobility Ambassadors’.
The National Agency’s aim is to implement a high quality placement and exchange programme with a comprehensive support service that will impact directly on the policies and systems of participating organisations’ and through them, with effective evaluation and dissemination procedures, influence national policy. Projects that demonstrate strong partnership, develop high quality placement plans, address certification procedures and provide relevant work experience and training or exchange of expertise and best practice are selected by the National Agency.