By Maria Cleary, Director of Funding and Partnerships, Early Childhood Ireland
New and exciting opportunity for Early Years settings funding
Early Childhood Ireland and Léargas are delighted to partner in raising awareness about the Erasmus+ Key Action 1 (learning exchange) funding opportunity and how to apply. We’ll be hosting two Lunch and Learn webinars in January 2024 to help members understand the application process and craft a strong application. Erasmus+ applications will be open to Early Years settings until February 2024.
Enhancing skills development
The Erasmus+ programme is one of the flagship Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) initiatives of the European Union. It is directly linked to the European Quality Framework for ECEC, which specifies that to fulfil their professional role in supporting children, ECEC staff need complex knowledge, skills, and competences, as well as a deep understanding of child development and knowledge about early childhood pedagogy. The continued professionalisation of ECEC staff is key, as it ensures higher quality for children. The Erasmus+ Key Action 1 application offers exactly that – an opportunity and funding for Early Years settings to offer their staff a period of time in another European country to undertake professionalisation activities including structured study, work experience, job shadowing, volunteering, training, and teaching opportunities.
Participation in such a project can also enhance staff motivation and satisfaction. Additionally, participation in a Key Action 1 project can enhance ECEC’s staff foreign languages competence; or raise awareness and understanding of other cultures and countries.
Erasmus+ Key Action 1 funding can also be a catalyst for growth in the Early Years sector, as evidenced by the school sector, where each year since 2014 an increased number of teachers have participated in Erasmus+ Key Action 1 projects focussed on themes like Wellbeing, Outdoor Education, Inclusion, Climate Change, Language Learning and ICT/Digital.
Already a success in Early Years settings
Early Years staff have already benefited from Erasmus+ funding, including through the 19 projects Early Childhood Ireland has led to date.
After one Erasmus+ project, Sharon Skehill, manager of Newtown Kids’ Club spoke about “a real pivotal point in [her] career in the Early Years” which “changed the trajectory of [her] pedagogical practice as well as enthusiasm for the sector.” Sharon travelled to Norway, where she enhanced her knowledge and understanding of a Nordic model of Outdoors service provision.
When she returned to Ireland, Sharon began integrating her new learning into her practice, and she is still applying innovative Outdoors pedagogical methods that benefit the children at her setting hugely.
Going forward, Early Years settings can apply for Erasmus+ Key Action 1 funding in their own right. Early Childhood Ireland and Léargas are partnering to raise awareness of this fantastic new opportunity for the sector.
Find out more
Please see below details of our upcoming webinars to support you in your application:
- Lunch and Learn webinar 1: Thursday, 11 January from 1.15pm-1.45pm
- Lunch and Learn webinar 2: Tuesday, 16 January from 1.15pm-1.45pm
Registration will open soon, so watch this space!
Services eligible to apply for the Erasmus+ Key Action 1 funding opportunity are defined as Partner Services in contract for the Core Funding scheme with the department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.