The SPIRAL project aims at strengthening the quality of the teacher-training programmes for primary school teachers in the participating European universities, by proposing a framework that allows each university to integrate a common reference framework compiled of evaluation grids, quality charters, skill cards and a mobility guide and adapt these tools to their own country’s standards and procedures while maintaining the best practices determined during the project’s life cycle. It is foreseen that, upon the project’s completion, further countries shall be inspired by the activities undertaken and the results achieved by this project and will aspire to carry out a similar initiative. As a result of mobility periods abroad undertaken by both staff and teacher-trainees on this project, the quality of primary school teacher-training programmes in European Higher Education Institutions (HEI) will be reinforced via the sharing of best practices for the classroom and the updating of necessary skills for teaching at primary school level in the 21st century.
It is foreseen that cross-border cooperation shall take a multitude of forms in the current project:
Furthermore, the mobility initiative envisaged for a selected number of teacher-trainers and teacher-trainees, taking place in each year of the project, shall enable each country to better understand how to fine-tune their primary school teacher-training programmes and incorporate a mobility into their curricula in order to make them as relevant and demanding as possible to meet the needs of the teaching profession today and in the future. These short-term mobility periods shall take place between each of the 5 European countries.
The objective of the teacher-trainer mobility is to provide certified teachers with further insight into the specificities of the educational system and evaluation and assessment modalities in teacher-training programmes of other European countries. This training, which will be given by colleagues of project partners to a public composed of teachers from partner universities will happen once per year and will also pave the way for discussion on the common reference framework, thus providing an opportunity for feedback on the tools developed within the project.
A selected number of teacher-trainees will undertake a 2-week mobility period in a partner university. This intercultural experience shall be beneficial to both the trainee and the teaching establishments as the trainees will be assessed by a foreign trainer which will thereby will allow to test the tools being developed as part of the common reference framework. Consequently, the trainees shall gain confidence in a professional intercultural and multilingual setting and return to their home countries with reinforced skills, which will also feed into the Mobility Impact Study.
It is increasingly necessary to respond to the changing landscape of the teaching profession in the 21st century and to equip universities and young graduates with the required professional, linguistic and intercultural tools for the modernisation of primary school teacher-training programmes. The partners of this project, all experts in the fields of teacher-training, language pedagogy and curriculum reform are confident that they are embarking on a worthwhile strategic partnership that will set the bar high in terms of innovative practices in teacher-training programmes across Europe. Graduates will have the required training to be able to respect the objective set by the Barcelona Council of March 2002, which called for the teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age and have received training in intercultural fields previous unavailable to their peers.
The previously mentioned Barcelona Council of March 2002 also called for the improvement of mastery of basic skills. The SPIRAL project aims to use innovative methods in the forms of blended learning and an online learning platform made available to both trainers and trainees and the universities at large. Both trainees and trainers will be afforded the opportunity to hone their basic and transversal skills throughout the SPIRAL project. Transversal skills such as linguistic competences and initiative-taking shall be greatly developed through the learning and training activities.