Education and skills report

Léargas: Supporting innovation for both teachers and students

As Ireland’s National Agency for European Union programmes like Erasmus+ and eTwinning, Léargas have managed international and national exchange programmes in the adult education, school education, vocational education and training, and youth sectors for almost 35 years. These exchanges connect people across different communities, counties, and countries, and bring a European dimension to Irish organisations.

In the last two years, many Irish education and training organisations have had to adapt and innovate as they have found new ways to bring their educators and learners together. In November 2021, to recognise their work, Léargas brought together three key European award schemes into one celebration of the most creative and inspiring communities, organisations, and teachers at the forefront of teaching and learning across Ireland.

The Léargas Innovative Learning Awards (LILAS) ceremony celebrated winning projects in three different but interlinked European exchange and learning initiatives: the European Language Label; the new European Innovative Teaching Award; and the eTwinning National Quality Label.

Award-winning European Language Label projects all supported learners at school or university to deeply engage with other languages, from English as a second language to Spanish to Lithuanian. One of the winners, the University of Limerick, created immersive virtual exchanges to ensure their Erasmus students could develop their language and digital skills in new ways.

Florence le Baron-Earle, teacher of French and Technology at University of Limerick said: “We wanted to make sure that virtual exchanges are maintained in the future… because it’s been proven that virtual exchange can really help students. Even if they go on exchanges after (travel) resumes, it’s a great way to prepare them. So, the overall results of the project are very positive. We could see really strong engagement from students, and the main goals of developing their linguistic skills, their intercultural competencies and digital literacy have been achieved.”

Three Irish schools were among the recipients of the first European Innovative Teaching Award which highlights outstanding teaching practices in Erasmus+ projects. In 2021, the Award focused on projects that used distance learning, alongside teaching practices and related digital tools and other forms of blended learning, to provide effective and inclusive education, a theme that is particularly relevant in the current Covid-19 context. Castleconnell National School worked with partners across Europe to create an inclusive model of special education in their school.

“By collaborating with other professionals in other European schools, we can learn so much from each other and Erasmus+ is an ideal opportunity for teachers to bring those practices home to their own schools,” said Brian Dillon, Assistant Principal of the County Limerick school.

The eTwinning National Quality Label is presented to teachers with eTwinning projects that show excellence in using Information and Communication Technology in their classrooms, using a variety of teaching methods, and putting pupils at the centre of their work. Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada, Árainn Mhór, County Donegal won an eTwinning National Quality Label for their project ‘The Multilingual Book’.

“My favourite part of the project was creating my character and coming up with the story for her,” said one of the pupils at Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada.

As we head into a new year of Covid uncertainty, Léargas and our programmes will continue to support teachers and learners to find innovative ways to work and learn together with their peers across Europe. To find out more, visit leargas.ie.

Léargas Points of Contact:
www.leargas.ie
Programme Support & Development Team psdt@leargas.ie
eTwinning etwinning@leargas.ie
Languages languages@leargas.ie
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Leargas
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Leargas.ireland
Instagram: www.instagram.com/leargas.ireland

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