Disclosure: this course is European Union-wide initiative with its coordinator residing in Florence, Italy.
History of the initiative
The Europass Teacher Academy is the largest provider of Erasmus+ KA1 Teacher Training courses in Europe. The Academy currently has a number of permanent locations across Europe, including Cluj-Napoca, Berlin, Tenerife and Florence, and roughly 50 collaborators and over 25 courses starting each month. More than 20 000 teachers, administrators and support staff have been trained by the Academy over the last 10 years. Throughout the courses, participants are able to expand their networks and potentially start up new projects. Courses provided by the academy are geared toward innovation, well-being and the arts, with a focus on 21st century skills.
The Academy originally worked with teachers as a means of disseminating European partnership project results, and exchanging creative and innovative teaching methods. Hereafter, the idea of offering the results of their projects as courses for teachers was taken up. Today, many teachers with Erasmus grants, especially primary and secondary teachers, take part in the courses that are offered.
Focussed on continued professional development, the Academy looks to support modern teachers, as they face unprecedented challenges, but also opportunities. The courses that the Academy provides aims to help keep teachers up-to-date, adaptable, and motivated. Entrepreneurial skills are more relevant today than ever before, and thus these skills are essential for teachers to have themselves before they can teach them to their students. Initially it was difficult to find teachers that were interested in a course with entrepreneurship as the focus, so it was offered as a course related to technology for entrepreneurship. This course was later amended and a course on entrepreneurship itself was created: Entrepreneurial Tools and Competencies for Teachers and their Students.
The main target group of the course is teachers and school staff at varying levels. However, it is mostly primary and secondary school teachers, as well as teacher trainers, headteachers, principals and school managers.
Aims and objectives
The main foci of the Entrepreneurial Tools and Competencies for Teachers and their Students course are the development of entrepreneurial skills for teachers, as well as equipping teachers with knowledge and tools to develop their students’ entrepreneurial skills. With these skills that teachers will learn and impart, students will be better prepared for the future. The course puts emphasis on developing teachers’ entrepreneurial skills and empowers them with methods and tools to give this knowledge further to their students.
Activities and learning outcomes
Participants attend a one-week intensive course which is made up of lectures, workshops and project presentations. The course is organised monthly and can be given both online and in person and currently a blended learning approach is being implemented and tested. It is possible for schools to have the Academy provide courses to their staff members on the topic of entrepreneurship, and tailor-made courses can be arranged. Learning methods include project-based learning and cross-curricular activities.
The course is very practical and when held in person, participants travel to one of the cities hosting the course and meet with other participants. The creation of networks amongst the participants is encouraged. At the end of the course, to gauge the progress of the participants, feedback and discussion is facilitated. A flipped classroom approach is also being taken, where participants study the course material before class so that class time can be used for practical work and meaningful discussion. The course aims to inform participants in:
• The characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
• Techniques, tips and methods to increase the entrepreneurial skills of their students.
• Project-based learning and how to apply it to their classes to develop the entrepreneurial skills of students.
• Creating a basic business plan.
• Different tools to build a brand and promote a project.
• Budgeting for a business/project and ways of starting it up and attract funds to boost it.
Participants leave the course with a certificate of attendance, and new materials and methods that can be implemented in their classrooms. Students that are taught by the teachers participating in the course will benefit from the increased knowledge and skills that the teachers will gain. After completion of the course, it is hoped that the teachers encourage and influence their students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and outlook.
Breaking barriers for impact
The main barrier to participation in the course is that teachers may not see the value in entrepreneurship education and not be able to fit it into their strict curricula. Therefore, they do not take part in the course.
However, to overcome this barrier, school management personnel that are proactive in entrepreneurship education often support teachers in their professional development around the subject. These schools also give teachers the space to enhance their curricula with entrepreneurial subjects. On a political level, when entrepreneurship education is given priority, this encourages teachers to learn these entrepreneurial skills themselves and teach them in the classroom as well. When entrepreneurship education is prioritised, anywhere from regional to international levels, teachers may receive grants from institutions, like the European Commission for example, to take part in such courses, which support the further development of initiatives that teach these skills.
Looking to the future, it is important that entrepreneurship be given more priority at a political level so that teachers will include it in their skillsets. More funding for schools and teachers would be beneficial to encourage the uptake of entrepreneurial skills.