Erasmus+ brings cultural exchange to St Piers School

Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. Education, training, youth and sport can make a major contribution to help tackle socio-economic changes, the key challenges that Europe will be facing until the end of the decade and to support the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social equity and inclusion. Many of the initiatives are based on opportunities to help teachers, lecturers and  non-academic staff develop their skills in schools, universities and colleges around Europe – through job shadowing, teaching and training activities.

It’s not only a great way to pick up new ideas and practices from different education systems, but a chance to build relationships with educational providers from around the world.

The Erasmus+ Programme shall contribute to the achievement of:

  • the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target;
  • the objectives of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks;
  • the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education;

The European Commission is ultimately responsible for the running of the Erasmus+ Programme. It manages the budget and sets priorities, targets and criteria for the Programme on an on-going basis. Furthermore, it guides and monitors the general implementation, follow-up and evaluation of the Programme at European level. The European Commission also bears the overall responsibility for the supervision and coordination of the structures in charge of implementing the Programme at national level.

St Piers School joined the Key Action 1 of the Erasmus+ programme “Mobility for staff” in March 2015 taking on a role of the receiving organisation for an overseas teacher from Estonia. The project was initiated, organised, coordinated, monitored and evaluated by the ISA coordinator and SMT Olya Scott. The 9 month preparation stage led to a very successful professional networking project that enabled us to place the Young Epilepsy flag on a world map and opened more exciting opportunities in the future.

Mrs. Jaanika Savolainen, an educationist and therapist from the Kao Basic School outside the Estonian capital city of Tallinn, visited the Young Epilepsy with the main purpose of observing and participating in the St. Pierce School everyday life; researching the current practise and policies, teaching and learning strategies, new approaches and learning resources and intervention programmes; liaising with other professionals (social workers, health and care professionals, occupational and, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and other organisations and networks).

Jaanika received warm welcome from the professionals across the organisation and attended various training and taster sessions including ‘Introduction to Autistic Spectrum Condition’ and ‘Approaches to positive Behaviour’, ‘Introduction to Intensive Interaction’ and ‘Sign Along’, Safe Support and Safeguarding. She spent valuable time in all school groups of various abilities shadowing teachers, therapists and care staff undertaking their day-to-day duties. Mentored and assisted by Olya, Jaanika collated a lot of information in support of her project which she is planning to present to her Estonian colleagues and the European Commission. In return, she shared her experiences and information about the Erasmus+ projects with teachers, support staff and students at school. Jaanika has also had an opportunity to spend a day at the Neville Centre and the Assessment Unit shadowing health and medical professionals and the research team.

The Erasmus+ project is one of the major initiatives taken and developed in support of the St Piers school’s GOLD International Status Award received in 2012 for promoting internationalism dimension across all areas and highlighting the benefits of learning in a global context.

Since then the school has welcomed and work aside education specialists from different settings and countries: Russia, Latvia, Zimbabwe. Such projects support the school’s vision in leading learners to become global citizens and enriching teaching practice with innovative ideas and resources used internationally.