Teachers often ask us for tips in preparing European Development Plan in their KA1 applications within the Erasmus+ programme. So I decided to highlight six most important characteristics of a good European Development Plan.
Advice # 1: Think about the internationalization of your school. The European Development Plan is about your future. How would you like to be integrated in the international projects? Is there a common agreement among your teachers to participate in international projects? What will internationalization bring to your students, to your teachers, to parents, and to the local community? How will international cooperation improve the quality of your school? Do you have a support from your management?
It is not enough to state your wish for internationalization. You really need a productive discussion within your school in order to look on the possibility of the internationalization from different perspectives. The quality of your European Development Plan will be higher if you prepare it based on the findings of different discussions, workshops or interviews with the key stakeholders.
Advice # 2: Be realistic. If your school does not have any experience with international mobility or other international projects yet, then it would be unwise to write that you will establish cooperation with 25 schools from other countries in 1 year.
Go gradually. Start with one mobility project and tell the evaluators how your first mobility project will help you to get new contacts for one additional project. It is important to be aware how much can you do with your current competencies and experience. Otherwise, evaluators will give lower points to your European Development Plan with the argument that it is unlikely that you will be able to fulfill the plan.
Advice # 3: Be concrete. Can you tell the difference between the following two sentences? First, we will increase our international cooperation and bring a lot of good practices to our school. Second, we will increase our capability for teaching entrepreneurship by introducing 3 innovative teaching methods for entrepreneurship which we will learn in 3 different countries with 3 different international partners.
The first statement allows different interpretations and you will never know how the evaluator will understand your plan. In contrast, the second statement is much more concrete with exact data. Your evaluator gets a clear picture what would you like to achieve.
Advice # 4: Mind the European dimension of your plan. You go to another country because you want experience which you cannot get at your home country. Remember to write in your application what exactly will you get with mobility project that you cannot get at your home country. If you write that you will go on Erasmus+ course about developing soft skills, your evaluators might give you lower points with the argument that you can get such a course in your home country. So you need a strong argumentation what can you get with the international course. For instance, new contacts for further international projects, study visit of different institutions in another country, best practice exchange with other participants, etc.
Advice # 5: Is it really necessary to send the whole team to one Erasmus+ course? One of the goals of Erasmus+ courses is to establish good networks among participants as a basis for future projects. So if you send a group of 18 teachers to one course you will not be able to increase your network. In this case, you can negotiate a tailor-made course with your course provider. However, write strong arguments why you need a tailor-made course. For instance, maybe your school want to develop a specific interdisciplinary project about green innovations for the students and your whole team needs additional competencies in order to implement such a project.
Advice # 6: Be ambitious with your dissemination. Mobility project is not just for you. It is also for your local community and for the whole school. Thus, plan some serious dissemination actions in order to spread the knowledge as much as possible. A workshop with your fellow colleagues, with parents or with students might add value to your mobility project. Write a few articles about your mobility project, record a video, and most important, implement the knowledge to your practice.
I wish you much success with your applications. International learning experience is one of the best sources of professional and personal development. So be courageous and create a quality European Development Plan which will encompass further options for your international cooperation.