THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME

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1 THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME Report 2011

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3 THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME Report 2011

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5 CONTENTS 8 The Lifelong Learning Programme 10 Comenius 18 Erasmus 28 Leonardo da Vinci 36 Grundtvig 44 Study Visits 50 etwinning 56 Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 78 Europass 80 Eurydice 82 European Language Label 88 Dissemination and Exploitation of the Results of the Lifelong Learning Programme 90 EDUinspirations Competition Events 108 Interagency Projects 112 Celebrations of the European Year of Volunteering 114 Recommended Publications 120 Useful Links

6 x Have you been satisfied with the implementation of tasks related to Polish presidency? Absolutely. Although it was hard work, we derived a lot of satisfaction from it. Over the six months, we participated in 10 important events related to education and we organised three of them. These were the conferences held in September; Developing cooperation between VET, higher education and adult learning in response to the challenge of lifelong learning and Multilingual Competences for Professional and Social Success in Europe; and the October conference entitled Mobility as a tool to acquire and develop competences from childhood to seniority. The last two events were included in the official agenda of the Polish presidency. All of them are described in detail in the Report. Mirosław Marczewski GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE FOUNDATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM The year 2011 was the time of great challenge for us. The first six months stood for ISO - we were awarded a quality management certificate concerning international and national educational programmes. This is a huge success. The second half of the year was the time of great effort related to Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union. Foundation for the Development of the Education System was committed to the implementation of several important events, for which we have been appreciated. We are proud of the role we have played in promoting Polish education abroad. We hope that the results of this hard work will be visible soon. x Let s start with ISO. What does the award of the certificate stand for? It is the crowning of a few years efforts aimed at improving the quality of work and standardizing it. I think that the certificate is important not only for us, but also for our beneficiaries and institutions that entrust us with various tasks. It confirms that we fulfil our obligations in a proper manner, that the binding procedures are observed during the implementation of the programmes, and that the transparency of the process is ensured. x What changes did you have to introduce at the Foundation in order to be awarded the certificate? First of all, we had to analyse, streamline and systematize the procedures. In total, the Foundation performs 14 different tasks, so we had to compromise in order to assure the quality of all the programmes. What is of importance, the certificate not only confirms that the quality standards have been achieved, but also ensures that they are observed in a consistent manner. Each few months, we have to look at the procedures and introduce the required improvements. The certificate is valid for three years, and it is verified each year. In short, it is a lifelong learning process. x What were the results of the conferences? The feedback obtained from our partners and beneficiaries shows that we were highly valued for the contents and organisation of the conferences. The final declarations adopted during the multilingual and mobility conferences were their most measurable results. The former declaration shows directions for the development of Polish and European education and emphasises the importance of language teaching and developing multilingual competences in multicultural environments. Conference participants were convinced that promoting these competences should be one of the goals of the new EU educational programme for the years The latter declaration emphasises mobility as an important tool for acquiring new skills, which facilitates employability. We wish that multilingual competences and mobility are included in the new EU educational programme for the years , the outline of which was presented in November Mobility already plays an important role there, however linguistic issues should be given more prominence. xwill the award of ISO certificate affect the selection of the institution responsible for the implementation of the new EU programme after 2014? The decision has not been made yet. It is the government who will decide about that, but I am convinced that the certificate serves as a confirmation that the Foundation for the Development of the Education System is well capable of managing large educational programmes implemented both on the national and international level. Maybe this will sound immodest, but we are best suited in Poland to manage the new programme, not only because of ISO certificate, but also due to our vast experience. We have implemented EU initiatives since 1998, and we do not face big competition in this area. x The role the Foundation plays in promoting Polish education abroad proves the trust placed in FRSE by decision-makers. It is true. Since 2011, we have supported the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in efforts aimed at promoting Polish HEIs internationally. We have provided it with content related and organisational support. We have participated in NAFSA fair in Vancouver and EAIE fair In Copenhagen. It has been a valuable experience for us, and we intend to continue it in

7 Mirosław Sielatycki UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE AT THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL EDUCATION AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF THE FOUNDATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM x How do you assess the role the Foundation for the Development of the Education System played during Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union? I think they have done very well. The Foundation was committed to the process of preparing, implementing and concluding our presidency of the Council of the European Union. Representatives of FRSE were members of the presidency team which operated at the Ministry. So they played a part in setting up the priorities in the fields of education and youth and in organising specific events. Here I would like to mention the conference entitled Multilingual Competences for Professional and Social Success in Europe, during which the final declaration on multilingualism was adopted. I believe that language component is still not given enough prominence in the educational programmes, and that the Foundation has done a lot to emphasise its importance. In 2011, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the European Language Label competition and the 10th anniversary of the European Day of Languages in Poland. What is more, FRSE took over the publishing of Języki Obce w Szkole (Languages at School) magazine, for which I m very grateful to them. Also the conference entitled Mobility as a tool to acquire and develop competences from childhood to seniority, during which a declaration on mobility was adopted, was very significant. I also need to mention Go East, Erasmus conference held in Białystok, as it preceded the opening of the discussion on the Erasmus for All programme to be implemented in the years All these events formed an important contribution to the discussion held by EU countries on the future of education in Europe. The Foundation acted as a moderator and did very well, both in terms of the organisation and the contents. The Foundation also played a role in the adoption of the documents on the European scale. Here I mean the conclusions of the Council of the European Union on linguistic competences, which provide for enhancing mobility, and Council conclusions on a benchmark for learning mobility. To sum up, during the presidency, we have managed to stimulate an authentic, lively and in-depth discussion on education, which was unprecedented in Poland over the past few years. x During the discussion on the Erasmus for All programme, Poland expressed considerable reservations. Have our postulates been met with understanding? The European Commission presented the proposal for the new Erasmus for All programme, which is to replace the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes, in November Already at the time of Polish presidency, we commenced social consultations aimed at dispelling certain doubts. And we already can see the results; in May 2012, EU Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sports adopted a compromise proposal prepared by the Danish presidency, which to a great extent anticipates the results of consultations held with the member states. The amended document provides for a number of postulates prepared by us, such as making youth a distinct area and providing it with individual financing, or giving more significance to vocational education. Opening up the programme to the third countries will also be possible. Obviously, some matters still need to be further discussed, but we can see a clear progress in the negotiations on the shape of the future programme, which is also thanks to Poland. x Will the shape of the new programme affect the operations of the Foundation for the Development of the Education System? Absolutely, although I do not think that the changes will be big. We are still working on it, and I think that the discussion in the European Parliament will result in certain amendments in the final document, so that the subsidiarity rule is fully observed. We want to ensure that the allocation of funds allows for planning them closer to the beneficiaries on one hand, and on the other that the balance between the three partners; the European Commission, national authorities and national agencies, is struck. We think that at present the balance is not maintained, which means that the role of national structures is slightly diminished. 5

8 gives more prominence to teacher mobility. The question is whether the teachers will be able to leave their schools to attend training and skill improvement courses. It may happen so that not many people will appreciate the benefits of such mobility. Anna Atłas DIRECTOR OF THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME FOR THE COMENIUS, ERASMUS, ERASMUS MUNDUS, TEMPUS, BOLOGNA EXPERTS, ELL, AND STUDY VISITS PROGRAMMES From the point of view of the Lifelong Learning Programme, the most significant event of 2011 was starting the discussion on the shape of the new educational programme of the European Union. The Commission s proposal entitled Erasmus for All provides for far reaching changes. Among others, it abandons the division into individual sectoral programmes devoted to higher and vocational education. This is an alarming signal for us. We are afraid that smaller, weaker organisations will no longer have access to EU funds. x For whom it will be easy to obtain EU funds, if Erasmus for All remains in the proposed form? As far as partnerships are concerned, strategic partnerships established by large consortia and networks, with higher education institutions as prevailing members, will be promoted. We are afraid that small schools, associations and various informal groups, which so far have been supported under the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes will be too weak to compete for co-financing with major European entities. What is more, the latter programme will be included in the new structure. This is the first reservation we have. The second concerns mobility. Although the Commission declares to the contrary, the blueprint for the programme shows that the mobility of school forms and individual pupils will no longer be supported. The program will concentrate on student and vocational learner mobility. Early age groups, which could initiate international cooperation during school education, will be excluded from mobility. So in this scenario, Polish schools will lose. x Are there any advantages of the Commission s new proposal? Absolutely, apart from the increased budget and streamlined structure of the programme, which will hopefully translate into simpler procedures of applying for co-financing, it x What will be the structure of the new programme proposed by the Commission? The programme will be divided into three major groups. The first will include educational mobility, the second will involve partnerships, and the third will promote activities aimed at supporting political reforms. However, the Commission has stated that majority of projects under the second and the third action will be implemented as centralised projects supervised by the Commission. The member states will concentrate on mobility projects, except for these forming the continuation of the current Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes, i.e. mobilities to third countries. The concept of the so-called small partnerships is still being considered. It is possible that they will be managed by the member states, however, the Commission wants to select them on the European level. This poses another threat to Polish institutions, which do not fare well in the centralised selection procedures. They lack experience in writing applications for centralised actions and they do not have well developed international contacts, which are indispensable for building a strong partnership. x As an accompanying event to the last year s conference, directors of national agencies of the Lifelong Learning Programme met in Sopot. Do they share your fears? There is a group of the countries which share our position. We agree that the member states should decide about the method of implementing the programme, including the decisions on the number of national agencies operating in a given country. The Commission wants to have one national agency or one coordinating agency in each country. There are also countries which share our fears concerning not providing for the specifics of individual target groups and not stipulating the minimum budget allocation for decentralised actions. x Will the new proposals affect the organisational structure of the Foundation itself? Yes, the teams operating within FRSE reflect the structure of the programme. We need to reflect on how to guarantee the personnel who has expertise concerning individual educational groups when the sectoral programmes are combined. They will need to be familiar with specific regulations concerning individual systems. They will have to reach new target groups. Therefore, we think about maintaining the existing division into sectoral programmes in our teams. The Commission intends to place emphasis on quality monitoring in the new programme. Regardless of who implements the project, it will be the national agency who will be responsible for ensuring results of adequate quality. So we will need versatile and highly specialised experts who will be able to ensure that in a situation where we do not know how many projects will be selected and what topics will be covered. Last but not least, when the budget is increased, we will need more people to make the settlements. The first estimates show that the operating funds for the implementation of the new programme may be much lower than these allocated today. 6

9 For example, in 2007, the funds under the Lifelong Learning Programme were used up in 95%. In the consecutive years, the results were similar, so we can say that as compared to other European funds, to mention the structural funds, we fare much better. As compared to other European countries, we are in the leading 10 of the countries with the most effective use of the funds. x Can FRSE count on additional funding also in 2012? Based on the competitions already staged, we can say that the interest has been consistently growing, so has the number of projects. So we can count on additional funds, although their allocation will depend on budgetary execution on the European level. Marcin Rolnik DIRECTOR OF THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME FOR GRUNDTVIG, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND EUROPASS PROGRAMMES Quality planning and proper implementation of tasks allowed us last year, for the next time, to obtain larger budget for our beneficiaries. This time the bonus was the highest; we were awarded additional 7 million. In 2011, the total allocation exceeded 79 million. As a result, the number of supported projects and their participants increased, with which we are very pleased. It has always been our goal to provide opportunities for the implementation of possibly the largest number of valuable initiatives x What have the additional funds been allocated for? We have spent them mainly on co-financing of student mobility under the Erasmus programme and pupil mobility under the Comenius programme. Also the Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig programmes could commit larger funds. The result is clear - more money means more satisfied beneficiaries. At present, the success rate amounts to 25-30% and we want it to grow further. x Everything changes. Don t you feel sorry that in two years time, together with a new EU programme, the existing structures and procedures will be no longer valid? We hope to the contrary. The new proposal presented by Brussels has been strongly opposed and is still subject to discussions by various bodies. We believe that the programme will ultimately be the continuation of the existing ones. Obviously, we are pleased that the budget for the new initiative proposed by the Commission is much higher. It is as much a 70% in plus of the existing one. But we must remember that this is only a part of a bigger picture. We will need to fight for the money, as also farmers, entrepreneurs and local governments will have appetite for EU funds. We must convince decision-makers in the Union that you cannot make economies on education. It is only education that can give an impulse for the development and can help to fight the crisis. What is more, the money is not everything. The catchphrase of simplifying the procedures cannot stand for missing out on major target groups. x What conditions do applicants need to meet to obtain additional financing? The European Union systematically analyses its budget and checks if there are any unused funds. If the funds are available, Brussels looks for the leading countries in terms of programme implementation and which have the largest needs at the same time. So there are many applicants and many quality projects. Luckily, we have been quite successful for several years. The award of additional funds is both a distinction and an element of effective budget management by the European Commission. x In other words, the Commission has acknowledged that FRSE performs its tasks properly. We have focused on effectiveness for many years and can boast considerable success. Our modus operandi is similar to this of the Commission - we regularly check the use of funds, and if necessary transfer them to achieve other goals and to ensure that no money is wasted. The results are good. 7

10 T H E L I F E L O N G L E A R N I N G P R O G R A M M E I N P O L A N D llp.org.pl Pursuant to the decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006, the Lifelong Learning Programme has been successfully implemented in Poland and 30 other countries of Europe since The programme is an important instrument for implementing the Lisbon strategy and Bologna and Copenhagen processes. It also serves to achieve the strategic goals of Europe 2020 in the field of education and training as part of the financial perspective. The European Commission and individual Member States are responsible for implementing the programme. The national agencies appointed by national authorities are institutions responsible for the administration of the programmes. The Foundation for the Development of the Education System (FRSE), which is a state treasury foundation, acts as the National Agency of the Programme in Poland. FRSE implements LLP decentralised actions under an agreement signed with the European Commission and agreements concluded with Polish Ministry of National Education and Ministry of Science and Higher Education. LLP centralised actions are managed by Executive Agency of the European Commission seated in Brussels. STRUCTURE OF THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME The Lifelong Learning Programme comprises the following sectoral programmes: Comenius school education; Erasmus higher education; Grundtvig adult education; Leonardo da Vinci vocational education and training; Study Visits action within the Transversal Programme addressed to policy-makers in charge of general, vocational and lifelong education, as well as social partners and executives responsible for human resources development. Programmes/initiatives supporting the implementation of the objectives of the Lifelong Learning Programme: European Language Label (ELL) is a European label awarded in recognition of innovations in the field of foreign language teaching and learning; etwinning promotes European cooperation between schools with the use of information and communications technology (ICT); Europass is an initiative of the European Commission, which makes it possible for all European citizens to present their qualifications and vocational skills in a more effective manner; Eurydice Information Network on Education in Europe. It comprises a number of national units established by ministries of education in individual states, and the coordinating unit (EACEA P9) established by the European Commission. Its goals include the development of lifelong learning and promotion of attainment of possibly the best results, innovation and European dimension of education systems and practice in the field. GOALS OF THE LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME: 1. to support the implementation of European area of lifelong learning; 2. to improve the quality, attractiveness and accessibility of lifelong learning opportunities available within Member States; 3. to reinforce the contribution of lifelong learning to social cohesion, active citizenship, intercultural dialogue, gender equality and personal fulfilment; 4. to promote creativity, competitiveness, employability and the growth of entrepreneurial spirit; 5. to increase participation in lifelong learning by people of all ages, including those with special educational needs and disadvantaged groups, regardless of their socio-economic background; 6. to promote language learning and linguistic diversity; 7. to develop innovative ICT-based content, services, pedagogies and practices for lifelong learning; 8. to reinforce the role of lifelong learning in creating a sense of European citizenship based on understanding and respect for human rights and democracy, and encouraging tolerance and respect for nations and culture; 9. to cooperate on quality assurance in all sectors of education and training in Europe; 10. to use results, innovative products and processes, and to exchange good practices in the field covered by the Lifelong Learning Programme in order to improve the quality of education and training. The budget of the Lifelong Learning Programme for 31 countries covered by the programme in 2011 amounted to EUR 986,689,000. Budget allocation for decentralised actions implemented in Poland amounted to 78,990,000. The European Commission allocated funds for decentralised actions in individual EU member states based on the rule of minimum allocations as stipulated in the decision: Comenius 16.2%, Erasmus 49.8%, Leonardo da Vinci 29.4%, Grundtvig 4.2%, Study Visits 0.43%. 8

11 The Lifelong Learning Programme INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND TRAINING ACTIVITIES Foundation for the Development of the Education System conducts information, publicity and training activities on a large scale. In 2011, as it was the case in 2010, these activities were addressed to 25,000 recipients. Moreover, thousands of leaflets, brochures, guides and studies presenting good practices in decentralised actions of the Lifelong Learning Programme were published and distributed. FRSE also regularly organised open days and individual consultations for beneficiaries and all persons interested in the Programme. Representatives of FRSE participated in numerous conferences, seminars and meetings, where they presented the achievements of the programme. implementation of a quality management system based on ISO at the Foundation, which has contributed to raising the quality of services provided to the beneficiaries and resulted in streamlining the internal procedures concerning all the programmes; active cooperation of Polish National Agency on the European level, including the participation in interagency projects and in the consultation process relating to the establishment of the framework for the new generation educational programmes for the years ; improving activities aimed at possibly the broadest dissemination of programme results and good practices, including the results of centralised projects; encouraging various institutions committed to formal, non-formal and informal education to the establishment of cross-sectoral cooperation under the LLL network (the lifelong learning network); strengthening cooperation between various programmes and initiatives managed by the Foundation; the Youth in Action programme, the Eurodesk network, the Scholarship and Training Fund, and the SCIEX scholarship fund in order to reach various target groups with a wide offer of activities. Main accomplishments of the Foundation for the Development of the Education System in 2011 include: achieving a high level of interest in the programme and high efficiency of the distribution and the settlement of the European funds. Due to the high level of the use of funds, Poland was awarded additional funding for decentralised actions under the Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig programme; active participation in activities initiated by Polish presidency of the field of education, including the organisation of two major conferences forming a part of the official agenda of Polish presidency; one devoted to multilingualism and the other to mobility, as well as participating in preparations for 10 other events; committing experts working at the Foundation to the development of documents adopted by the Council during Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union; COMENIUS School education LEONARDO DA VINCI Vocational education and training ERASMUS Higher education GRUNDTVIG Adult education STUDY VISITS Decentralised action within the Transversal Programme PROGRAMMES AND INITIATIVES SUPPORTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LIFE- LONG LEARNING PROGRAMME OBJECTIVES European Language Label (ELL), etwinning, Europass, Eurydice, Bologna Experts Table no. 1. LLP budget implementation in Programme s budget in EUR Number of submitted applications Number of approved applications Funding granted in EUR COMENIUS 13,387,000 3,548 1,770 13,387,000 ERASMUS 43,158, ,158,000 LdV 19,161,000 1, ,161,000 GRUNDTVIG 3,123, ,123,000 STUDY VISITS 161, ,000 TOTAL 78,990,000 5,956 2,923 78,990,000 Source: FRSE own data 9

12 C O M E N I U S comenius.org.pl Comenius is one of the four sectoral programmes of the Lifelong Learning Programme. It aims to improve the quality and reinforce the European dimension of education in all EU member states. Comenius helps pupils and teachers acquire and raise skills and competences that are indispensable for personal development, successful professional life and active European citizenship. x How many applications for the Comenius programme were submitted last year? We obtained 2280 applications as part of Comenius in-service training and assistantships alone. We were aware that a lot of work was ahead of us, but the results are beyond my expectations. The completion of formal assessment ahead of schedule resulted in sooner assessment by external experts. This was possible only thanks to our wide experience. We re getting better each year, and we know how to prepare for work. In 2011, once again, we set the record in terms of the number of approved applications, which is becoming our tradition. But what I am the most proud of is the rate at which we have completed formal assessment of the applications. Although there were thousands of them, we completed work much earlier than we had planned. This provides evidence for good organisation of work, high competencies of the Comenius team, and efficient procedures. I believe this is a good signal, not only for me, but also for the programme beneficiaries. Aleksandra Długosz Deputy Director of the Lifelong Learning Programme for the Comenius programme x Do you have a recipe for success? All you need is hard work. However, last year we had several promotional successes. Our Internet forum has proven successful. The blog on Comenius assistantships is becoming more and more popular. We also obtained a lot of invitations to stage workshops and training. You can clearly see that the schools appreciate the benefits offered by Comenius, and they know that the participation in the programme is simply a must. x you have obtained more applications, and how about the funds? Funds as well! Last year, we obtained additional funds for School Partnerships. As a result, more than 500 projects obtained co-financing. It is much more than a year before. This is a very good result; and each project involves a number of participants. x So progress has been observed in terms of quantity. And how about quality? The quality of projects improves with each year. We have been obtaining a growing number of original and unique projects, and the schools surprise us with inventiveness in the selection of partners. What is the most important, however, it is the fact that all regions in Poland are active. We obtain applications from every part of the country. x The year 2011 was the first year of implementing Individual Pupil Mobilities. Has the action gained popularity? Yes, in the first year of Action s implementation, 7 applications were submitted by the schools. However, in the second year the number grew to 16. So it has increased by 100%. This gives us a lot of satisfaction, as the results of young people s mobilities may prove fascinating. SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS In 2011, School Partnerships were predominated by actions aimed at boosting linguistic competences and civic awareness, these allowing for becoming acquainted with foreign cultures and those focusing on the deepening knowledge of modern Europe. From among 527 winning projects, as many as 159 were devoted to language learning and teaching, 157 were dedicated to cultural heritage, and 154 focused on European citizenship and European dimension. Certain projects dealt with several topics at a time. Environmental protection and sustainable 10

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14 comenius development (90 applications) enjoyed large popularity. This data says a lot about Polish schools and their needs. School Partnerships, which provide for two-year cooperation of at least two (bilateral projects) of three (multilateral projects) European schools, broaden educational offer and serve as an opportunity for strengthening cooperation on the local level. They also provide opportunities for direct contact with foreign languages and for becoming acquainted with pedagogical solutions applied in different countries. The results achieved by the schools show that with each year Polish teachers and headmasters gain more confidence in looking for new solutions and are more willing to apply innovative work methods, and that their priorities include project durability and effective use of opportunities. In 2011, as it was the case in the previous years, only 50% of applicants could obtain co-financing as part of School Partnerships. 224 secondary schools, 149 primary schools, 26 vocational schools, 11 Diagram no. 1. Comenius programme Call for Proposals 2011 results Source: FRSE own data Multilateral School Partnerships Teaching Staff Mobility Regio Partnerships Bilateral School Partnerships Comenius Assistantship Assistants Preparatory Visits and Contact Seminars Individual Pupil Mobility Number of submitted applications Number of approved applications preschools and 8 special needs schools signed co-financing agreements. Moreover, 109 institutions not listed in the above categories joined the programme. These were youth care centres, continuing education centres, special education and care centres, and halls of residence. MULTILATERAL SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS According to independent experts, in 2011, only 32 from among 1137 applications under Multilateral School Partnerships did not meet the quality criteria and 11 were rejected on formal grounds. This is a very good result, also on the European scale, which shows that actions taken by Polish teachers complement well every day school or preschool activity, as they are well planned, meet the actual needs, and use innovative teaching methods. The high quality of publications observed since the beginning of the operations of the Lifelong Learning Programme translates into fantastic projects, the results of which are used during classes and school events. They serve as a starting point for further activities and partnerships, both international and local ones, to which pupils, parents, teachers and local authorities are committed. Mobility abroad, which serves as an opportunity to exchange experiences, good 12

15 comenius practices and teaching methods, make both children and adults become acquainted with opportunities resulting from EU membership. In the years , 7039 teachers and 62,219 pupils left abroad under multilateral projects. BILATERAL SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS Bilateral projects, which consist in form exchanges staged by two partner schools, have built up a reputation in the Comenius programme, which comes as no surprise as they bring a lot of satisfaction both to pupils and teachers. In 2011, 40 Polish schools commenced such activity (91 applied for the co-financing). Due to the fact that in 2011 bilateral projects focused on language education and included at least 10 days of learning at a partner school, partners expanded the topic of the visits with multicultural education and European heritage. 626 teachers and 4172 pupils around the age of 12 participated in exchanges completed in The threshold stipulated only for bilateral projects under school partnerships strongly affected their specifics. The activities focused mainly on deepening the interests of pupils, took school profile into consideration, and both working language of the project and the mother tongue of the partner were used for communication. In this way, bilateral projects contributed to the propagation of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) and to raising professional competences of teachers. Such an approach had the positive impact not only on pupils language proficiency, but also motivated them to further learning and developing social skills. Multilateral School Partnerships (EUR 9,260,000.00) Teaching Staff Mobility (EUR 1,864,629.65) Regio Partnerships (EUR 760,778.69) Bilateral School Partnerships (EUR 730,000.00) Comenius Assistantship Assistants (EUR 622,000.00) Preparatory Visits and Contact Seminars (EUR 116,379.66) Individual Pupil Mobility (EUR 33,212.00) Diagram no. 2. Funds allocated to individual actions of the Comenius programme in 2011 Source: FRSE own data Table no. 2. Division of funds by individual action of the Comenius programme in 2011 Applications Number Rejected (not approved for funding) 47 Approved for funding and implemented, including: 108 a) Contact Seminars (27) b) Preparatory Visits (81) Approved for funding, but not implemented (participant s resignation) 2 Total 157 Source: FRSE own data Table no. 3. Number of grant applications submitted and approved under Teaching Staff Mobility as per each submission deadline in 2011 Submission Deadline Submitted Applications Approved Applications Deadline I Deadline II Deadline III Total Source: FRSE own data REGIO PARTNERSHIPS In 2011, which was the last year of the implementation of 26 projects contracted in 2009, i.e. during the first edition of the new action, we carefully watched the results of Regio Partnership projects. These projects draw on the experiences of bilateral co-operation and aim at improving the quality of education in a systemic way, based on cooperation of local authorities (in Poland, these are local governments and education offices), schools or preschools and regional educational institutions, such as libraries, sports clubs, and non-governmental organizations. A consortium composed of at least three partners looks for a similar entity abroad to start cooperation aimed at the development of sustainable solutions to diagnosed educational problems. Such cooperation on the European level brings visible results on a local stage. Participants of study visits, who are teachers, representatives of educational authorities and other organizations, have an opportunity to transfer solutions developed in a partner country, come up with new ideas in an international team and share experiences. Regio projects completed in 2011 focused on comparing the systems of education, on methods of committing parents to educational activities and on working with immigrant children. Projects submitted two years later were devoted to similar topics. Applications filed in 2011 focused on comparing educational systems, cooperation of schools with local communities, and regional identity. Just as it is the case with School Partnerships, activities related to the environment and sustainable development are gaining importance in Regio projects. 13

16 comenius INDIVIDUAL PUPIL MOBILITY Individual Pupil Mobility is the youngest action of the Comenius programme, which Poland joined in The action is addressed to pupils who thanks to cofinancing can leave for one of the European countries (yet still these are not all EU member states) and study for a couple of weeks or months at a school there. What is important, the parties to the agreement are both sending and host schools, and a precondition for pupil mobility is their participation in a School Partnership at the time of or prior to submitting an application. Small Erasmus, as individual pupil mobility is sometimes called, targets young people above the age of 14. It is an opportunity for them to become independent, to deepen their interests, to get accustomed to communication in a foreign language, and to gain experiences, which may bring profits in adult life. In 2011, 19 Polish students from six different schools studied at schools abroad. At the same time and at the beginning of 2012, six Polish schools hosted 14 pupils from abroad. Each such mobility lasted three months. Polish students left for the following countries: Spain (5 students), France (2 students), Latvia (2 students), Slovenia (1 student), Sweden (3 students) and Italy (6 students). At the same time, 7 students from Spain, 2 students from Latvia, 1 from Slovenia, and 4 students from Italy studied at Polish schools. In school year 2012/2013, 38 Polish lower secondary and secondary school students will study abroad as part of Individual Pupil Mobility under the Comenius programme. Only 1 of 16 applications submitted by Polish schools did not meet the quality criteria. As in the previous years, Polish students will study in Spain and Italy, but also in Finland and Turkey. PREPARATORY VISITS AND CONTACT SEMINARS Preparatory Visits and Contact Seminars are offers or the Comenius programme closely related with School Partnerships and Regio Partnerships. Preparatory Visits are meetings organised by future partners in order to prepare a co-financing application and discuss details of the planned project. Contact Seminars are organised by national agencies of the Comenius programme and aim at finding projects partners. In both cases cofinancing is granted to one representative of a school, local government unit, or education office, and the visit lasts from 1 to 5 days. The visit should result in determining issues related to the project, often in the form of the application for co-financing, and, what is equally important, in establishing direct contact with the members of a partner group. In 2011, 157 applications for preparatory visits and contact seminars were filed. In total, 81 people attended preparatory visits abroad and 27 participated in contact seminars, which were held in Belgium, Germany, France, Iceland, the Netherlands and Italy. 101 applications were filed under school partnerships, 4 under Regio partnerships, and 3 applications concerned co-financing under centralised Comenius actions. At the same time, we successfully settled 121 final reports, in which teachers and local government officers described experiences gained during mobility co-financed under the 2010 call for proposals. IN-SERVICE TRAINING Not all individual teacher mobilities, which are co-financed under the Comenius programme must be an introduction to school partnerships. In-service Training is an action aiming at improving professional competencies of teachers who have a passion for teaching and those wishing to follow the latest trends in the field. As part of the action, the teachers leave abroad to attend in-service training, conferences, seminars, and participate in job shadowing, where they observe the work of their peers abroad. During the three rounds held in 2011, we obtained applications from 1808 teachers. We approved 1020 applications, majority of which were filed by language teachers. Language barrier seems to be the main reason why the teachers of Table no. 4. Number of beneficiaries and total funds awarded under School Partnerships in 2011 Voivodeship Multilateral School Partnerships Bilateral School Partnerships Total Funds in EUR for Multilateral School Partnerships Funds in EUR for Bilateral School Partnerships Total Funds in EUR Mazowieckie Świętokrzyskie Podlaskie Wielkopolskie Zachodniopomorskie Pomorskie Łódzkie Małopolskie Śląskie Lubelskie Podkarpackie Lubuskie Dolnośląskie Opolskie Kujawsko-Pomorskie Warmińsko-Mazurskie TOTAL Source: FRSE own data 14

17 comenius other subjects are less eager to apply for mobility abroad. COMENIUS ASSITANTSHIP Teachers-to-be; students and graduates of pedagogy willingly use opportunities to undergo training abroad as part of Comenius Assistantship. A stay at a European school lasting from 13 to 45 weeks is a perfect complement to the lunching of a professional career. Comenius Assistants participate in the life of host schools, obtain support from the teachers, become acquainted with the European systems of education, learn how to be flexible and how to cope with cultural differences. In 2011, 323 assistants from Poland filed applications for co-financing, 86 of which were approved. 121 Polish schools declared readiness to host an assistant, of which 25 were approved. Although Poland enjoys relatively small interest on the part of future teachers, these who decide to stage training in our country, appreciate the commitment of Polish mentors and have fond memories of lessons staged with Polish pupils. To schools, assistants bring new attitudes, broaden the educational offer and help to look at every day work from a new perspective. PROMOTION AND DISSEMINATION OF THE COMENIUS PROGRAMME RESULTS In order to increase the number of schools and teachers participating in the Comenius programme, we have co-operated with coordinators at individual voivodeships; education offices and other educational institutions staff responsible for the promotion of the programme in individual regions. We have managed to continue cooperation with local authorities in Łódź and Lublin, Representation Office of the European Commission in Poland, European Funds Bureau at the Warsaw City Hall, and the University of Łódź. We have participated in events organised by the Educational Research Institute, national contact point of the etwinning programme and other national agencies of the Lifelong Learning Programme from across Europe. In each of the voivodeships, we have managed to organise monitoring meetings for beneficiaries implementing Comenius projects. We have also provided support by and on the phone. Comenius Internet forum has proven successful; it has more than 2300 users. We are very proud of the trust placed in us by the beneficiaries, about which we learn during the meetings in the regions and during monitoring visits. In 2011, in cooperation with regional coordinators, we staged 31 such visits. We are pleased that teachers more and more often treat the national agency as the place where they can find answers to the questions and doubts, and where they can obtain assistance in solving project related problems. We presented best practices during all meetings organised in Teachers starting their adventure with Comenius highly valued the advice and practical guidance provided by experienced beneficiaries. We also talked about best practices applied by our beneficiaries in Bliżej przedszkola (Closer to Preschool) monthly and Europe for the Active quarterly issued by FRSE. Also in 2011, we worked on our new website, published a brochure and posters promoting all actions of our programme. We also prepared a digital banner, which is a quality label that can be posted on the websites of the top quality projects. From among the best partnerships coordinated by Polish schools, we selected 8 projects (5 multilateral initiatives, 2 bilateral projects, and 1 Regio project), which were awarded the status of a Star Project and included in the European database of Table no. 5. Number of teacher mobilities under In-service Training in 2011 Voivodeship Number of mobilities Mazowieckie 134 Świętokrzyskie 26 Podlaskie 24 Wielkopolskie 79 Zachodniopomorskie 41 Pomorskie 57 Łódzkie 66 Małopolskie 105 Śląskie 184 Lubelskie 48 Podkarpackie 60 Lubuskie 14 Dolnośląskie 70 Opolskie 28 Kujawsko-Pomorskie 45 Warmińsko-Mazurskie 39 Total 1020 Source: FRSE own data products (http://llp.est.org.pl) featuring information on all partnerships implemented as part of the Lifelong Learning Programme. 15

18 comenius GOOD PRACTICE A Comenius Assistantship in Finland In the middle of September 2011 I began my three-month Comenius assistantship at the Saamilaakson koulu school in Espoo, a town situated in the south of Finland, bordering on the capital of the country Helsinki. To me this period of time was not only a big challenge, but also an unforgettable adventure, enabling me to discover an unknown country, where I acquired and developed skills which are already beginning to bear fruit that is how Beata Całus describes her participation in the Comenius programme. x What did I learn about the education system of the host country? Education available to everyone regardless of their country of origin, mother tongue, financial situation or age is one of the principles of the Finnish education system. Apart from studying compulsory subjects it is also possible to take up additional ones (foreign languages, cooking and housework, manual work, for example DIY, furniture production, sewing, knitting). x What did I learn about the culture and language of the host country? Every day I was exposed to the Finnish language in extremely interesting ways not only could I hear it on the underground several hours a day, but I could also become familiar with it in a totally natural way, reading cartoons in the Metro (free newspaper distributed in public transport), translating a book (about Moomin s adventures), watching TV or listening to the radio. This kind of knowledge acquisition was new to me, as before that I had never spent such a long time abroad, having studied foreign languages in a traditional, textbook way. x The influence of the assistantship on my language competences My assistantship in Finland had an immense and undoubtedly very positive influence on my language competences. You learn when you teach this wellknown saying turned out to be very true in my case. Although during class I would return to the material I knew very well, I had to explain it to my students in French, which was a totally new situation for me. Basically, every day I could feel that thanks to this teaching method new to me my competences were significantly developing. I was gradually gaining expertise and confidence. I realised which expressions or ways of presenting a subject were more intelligible to my students. Apart from that I used English on a very frequent basis, sometimes more frequently than French, so I have the impression that it is in English that my progress is the most significant. x What did the students and the host school learn about the culture and language of my country? Thanks to cooperating with teachers of different subjects I had an opportunity to present Poland during various classes (geography, cooking or culturerelated classes) by way of lectures with the help of PowerPoint presentations or through a board game combined with a quiz. Owing to that it was possible to present Polish history, geography, cooking, language, festive traditions, most beautiful Polish towns, Lower Silesia s castles and palaces, young persons culture (music performers, artists, athletes), famous Poles or Polish cinematography. During my assistantship the students and teachers obtained basic information about Poland, such as which language group Polish belongs to, alphabet, basic expressions, polite forms, similarities to other languages etc. By showing books intended for foreigners studying Polish and giving links to websites for students of Polish as a foreign language I encouraged the participants to start learning our language. I think I succeeded there in creating a positive image of the Polish language. x My assistantship and my future professional career My participation in the Comenius Assistantship programme will undoubtedly have an impact on my future work as a teacher. I have gained extensive experience, I have become familiar with teaching methods and varied teaching materials and this is bound to bear fruit after I start a job. Foreign language teachers should not only know their subject, but they also need to display openness to other cultures and other people as it is impossible to teach a language without teaching cultural competence. I hope that this experience of being in that hugely diversified environment influences my attitude and enables me to pass it onto my students with whom I will work one day. 16

19 comenius GOOD PRACTICE Family Matters In search of the best ideas Participating in Comenius Regio projects brings nothing but benefits! Schools, other institutions, inhabitants shortly speaking, all local communities benefit from them. To me this project was not only a challenge, but also an unforgettable adventure, during which I gained new experience, raised my professional qualifications, met interesting people and formed lasting friendships so says Justyna Półrola of the Strategy and Development Office at the City Council (Biuro Strategii i Rozwoju w Urzędzie Miasta) in Radomsko about the Family Matters project. The Family Matters project implemented in as part of Comenius Regio Partnerships, aimed at comparing the ways in which educational services are provided to children and young persons in Radomsko (the Łódź Voivodeship) and in British Lincolnshire. The project partners were keen on identifying, developing and disseminating relevant best practices and measures. The social situation of immigrant families, the problem of immigrant children s adaptation in their school environment and the role of volunteers in supporting families and social cohesion were analysed in the course of the project. Searching for the best methods of raising national standards and those of youth education was an important objective of the action. The goals set were achieved the partners exchanged experiences during a series of international visits, local activities, meetings and workshops. As part of their themed visits they took part in conferences on the participation of children and young persons in social life and on partnership for families. The project participants met teachers and students during study visits and workshops and they were involved in job shadowing. Each meeting was an opportunity to deepen intercultural dialogue and motivated them to issue new challenges and introduce innovative measures. The project also meant that certain local activities were carried out, such as: a family picnic, workshops for young persons and student government mentors and internal concluding conferences. They all confirmed that the implementation of this action had enabled exchanging experience relating to education and out-of-school work with children, young persons and parents. These activities inspired the young participants to become involved in the life of their school, peers and community. The implementation of the project brought numerous interesting, valuable and sometimes surprising results. A bilingual webpage was created (www.familymatters.pl) with descriptions of all actions taken and basic information about the Comenius Regio programme, its projects, objectives and activities. Two booklets were published. The first of them was a guide composed of postcards and intended for young people, informing them how to become involved in the life of their local community and what to do to make their voice heard in the world of adults. The other booklet contained conclusions relating to all the project events, materials gathered at visits, results achieved and plenty of photographs. The opening of the first centre for children and parents in Radomsko, enjoying immense popularity among families in the town, and the forming of a group of young leaders were undoubtedly the biggest achievements of the project. The schools are implementing changes: new working methods, systems of student motivation and reward as well as additional voluntary activities for young people. The implementation of this action has strengthened intercultural dialogue and partnership between towns and established cooperation between more schools from Radomsko and the County of Lincolnshire, which, realising the benefits of this project, enter new Comenius contests and calls. 17

20 e r a s m u s erasmus.org.pl Erasmus is an EU programme addressed to higher education institutions. It fosters student and teaching staff mobility and cooperation between higher education institutions originating from various countries participating in the programme. x The success of the Erasmus programme can be attributed not to the National Agency itself, but to the universities. However, it seems that the cooperation has been consistently improving. I am pleased to note that HEIs more and more often treat Erasmus mobility as an element of the strategy for improving the competences and for the development of teaching and administrative staff. This proves growing awareness of the importance of competent staff who is ready to thoroughly support students in the learning process. It is another step on the way to student oriented teaching. Undoubtedly, also internationalization gains on a new meaning in this context. The positive trend observed in 2011 in my opinion was maintaining by Poland a leading position in terms of the number of staff mobilities, both for teaching assignments and training. When our colleagues from other national agencies ask us how to achieve such a good result, we simply answer maybe with a bit of exaggeration that this results from the emphasis Polish HEIs place on staff mobilities. Beata Skibińska Deputy Director of the Lifelong Learning Programme for the Erasmus programme x What other trends were the source of satisfaction to the Erasmus team in 2011? We are very pleased with the growing interest in mobility for placements on the part of students. We are extremely satisfied with the good opinion about intensive programmes and an excellent ratio of the use of funds earmarked for decentralised actions of the Erasmus programme. The ratio has exceeded 99%, which with taking the number of participating HEIs into consideration, is a very good result. There are also some drawbacks, but we treat them as challenges and problems to be solved. For example, we are worried about the decreasing number of mobilities for studies and still observed problems with obtaining credit for a period of studies staged at a partner institution. x Does the fact that the number of students leaving for placements grows proves more effective promotion? In 2011, our activities in this scope did not differ from these taken in the previous years. Better statistics result mainly from the activities of individual HEIs, which more strongly support and facilitate mobility. In the academic year 2012/13, Poland will obtain more funds for Erasmus and Leonardo student mobilities for placements. We are very pleased with that. x Will the new EU Erasmus for All programme prove beneficial for students? We do not know that yet, as the devil is in the detail. On the positive side is the fact that the European Commission intends to request much larger funds from the European Parliament. This gives hope for supporting a larger number of mobilities. ERASMUS OFFER Higher education institutions. Higher education institutions cooperating within the Erasmus programme may carry out student and teacher exchanges, organize intensive programmes, i.e. courses for international groups of students, and implement educational projects in various areas together with institutions coming from various countries. In order to participate in the programme, a higher education institution must hold an Erasmus University Charter granted by the European Commission, under which this institution may apply for co-funding of specific activities. 18

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