The continued growth and development of Templemichael College has received a major boost recently with the news that the school has been awarded funding under the prestigious pan European Erasmus+ programme.
The awarding of this funding comes under the category of KA229 School Exchange Partnerships for Cooperation and innovation of good practices in schools.
This two year project will be undertaken with partner schools in Finland, Croatia, The Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia.
The genesis of this project has come from some partnership work with these European partner schools following a contact seminar and conference attended by Deputy Principal of Templemichael College Mr Mick O’Rourke in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2019.
This thematic conference provided attending schools and colleges with advanced insight into the theory of “Building Partnerships for a Learner Centred Approach” by Professor Gabriela Lojová, Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Education.
This project will involve 6 transnational exchanges in the partner schools and communities so that staff and students in Templemichael College will get to experience life in these partner schools. In between these exchanges students and staff will be working on collaborative projects between the schools over a number of mediums including etwinning for schools, collaborative Zoom meetings, Twinspace and the School Education Gateway.
For the duration of this project the partner schools have decided to concentrate on a number of aspects of our school lives that have commonality across the schools namely, The Arts, Athletics, Academics and finally Autonomy.
This self-styled “4 As of School Life” will provide broad opportunities for the exchanges in schools. On our Longford hosting exchange round it is hoped that our international visitors will gain the opportunity to experience participation in traditional Gaelic Games, our beautiful Lakelands, rivers and outdoor pursuits.
For in school life Templemichael College will be able to provide opportunities in the vast array of academic and vocational subjects while in the Arts sphere it is hoped to link in with a number of local activities to provide an experience of Irish craft, theatre and music.
The Templemichael College and Longford community is an ideal setting for our visiting students to learn and experience life in Ireland. The opportunities our staff and students can look forward to will all be specific to those hosting countries so a very different experience awaits for each leg of the journey.
The common thread through all of these exchanges will be the opportunity for hosting schools to allow their own students to take prominent roles in the exchange. The Goal is to move to student led activities with teacher support as needed. This mode of learning leads ultimately to more autonomous learners for now and for life.
This project also sits well within the core values of the new Junior Cycle for schools and is a stated core value of Longford and Westmeath Education Training Board.
In Templemichael College the anticipation is growing as the project is due to launch this term. At a local level students will be engaged in Erasmus+ club, logo competition, etwinning and updating social media platforms and in house notice boards for the project. Students will also begin initially engaging with the new partner schools on a number of projects digitally.
Each international school exchange will involve six students from Templemichael College and two cooperating Teachers for each leg of the journey over the two year cycle. These fully funded school exchanges will place our students and teachers in partner schools for one school week to experience life in a different school setting.
Speaking about the oncoming project Mr Mick O’Rourke stated “This project is a wonderful opportunity for students and staff in Templemichael College. It is a big undertaking over 2+ years which encompasses far more than just the travel component.
“The online engagement and working closely with students in other schools and countries is something we are looking forward to.
“None of this work could however take place without the wonderful dedicated staff of Templemichael College and the support of our Principal Ms Sorcha NicDhonnacha, our Board of Management led by Cllr Peggy Nolan and our Parents Association.”
Covid-19 has played its part with the project delaying the first transnational meeting and the school exchange components of the project. Until there is further clarity or vaccine these opportunities will have to wait but the project has been approved and funding has been granted to the partner schools to the tune of over €185K to bring this project through to fruition.