You are on page 1of 13

TRANSNATIONAL

MOBILITY
In its Conclusions of 12 May 2009, the Council of the European Union
highlighted the need to gradually expand transnational mobility,
notably for teachers, ‘with a view to making periods of learning abroad
– both within Europe and the wider world – the rule rather than the
exception' .

In its Conclusions of 28-29 November 2011, the EU Council invited the
European Commission to develop indicators on teacher mobility in
order to follow up progress in this field .

Strengthening the intensity and scale of the mobility of school staff is
necessary to improve the quality of school education in the Union, as
stated in the new Erasmus+ Programme, the EU programme for
education, training, youth and sport (2014-2020) .
The transnational mobility of teachers is important for several reasons.

For those involved in it, the experience represents first-hand contact
with a different education system in which approaches to teaching, as
well as its methodologies and organisation, may differ. It is a unique
opportunity for teachers to reflect on their own ways of teaching and
exchange views about their experience with colleagues abroad.

Transnational mobility may also help them overcome scepticism
regarding other teaching methods, by providing them with an
opportunity to observe their use directly and their impact on students.

This experience may in turn motivate them to gain fresh skills for more
innovative approaches of their own.
Conversely it may be an opportunity too, for them to discuss their own
approaches with teachers at their host institution, thereby developing a
greater sense of empowerment and professional recognition.

Finally, working visits by teachers to a country whose main language is
not their mother tongue is likely to help them develop their language
skills, an asset of special importance to those whose subject is modern
foreign languages.

Students may also benefit from transnational teacher mobility, whether
directly – where they are involved in cooperation projects using
innovative ICT- based technologies or in foreign school exchanges
initiated by their teachers – or indirectly, as when the latter are
motivated to develop their teaching skills and impart a more European
or international dimension to learning at school.
This can be of particular importance to students unable to travel abroad on
their own. Schools too may gain from the transnational professional
mobility of their teachers.

These staff may help to spread good practice, challenging their colleagues
by exchanging information, ideas and experience. They may also support
the commitment of the whole school community to virtual or physical
mobility (for example via European cooperation projects). Hosting teachers
from another country is also a way of enriching the experience of the
school community.

This chapter provides a picture of the transnational mobility for
professional purposes of teachers in lower secondary education (ISCED 2).
Such mobility is defined here as physical mobility for professional purposes
to a country other than the country of residence, either during initial
teacher education (ITE) or as a practising teacher.

Private mobility – such as holiday travel abroad for nonprofessional
purposes – is not taken into account here. Furthermore, the TALIS 2013
survey restricts this definition to periods of a week or more spent at a
foreign educational institution or school, and does not take into
consideration travel abroad to attend conferences or workshops.
The chapter also contains information on overall participation and
considers the timing of transnational mobility in the career of teachers.

It examines the main reasons why they go abroad for professional
purposes, as well as the influence of certain factors on their transnational
mobility, among them their age, the number of years spent in service,
gender, the subject(s) taught, and existing mobility schemes at EU level or
organised by national or regional authorities.

The TALIS 2013 questionnaire introduced the question on teacher mobility
abroad for professional purposes with the following wording: 'Have you
ever been abroad for professional purposes in your career as a teacher or
during your teacher education/training?'

No conclusion, therefore, can be drawn from the TALIS survey on the
frequency of travel abroad by teachers for professional purposes, or how
recently it may have occurred. 27.4 % of teachers within the EU have been
abroad at least once for professional purposes.
In almost half of the European education systems surveyed, the
proportion of the mobile teacher population – in this sense – is even
lower.

This applies to Belgium (Flemish Community), France, Croatia, Italy,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia.

The proportion of mobile teachers is highest in the Nordic and Baltic
countries. In the case of the former it is exceptionally high in Iceland, in
which over two-thirds of teachers have gone abroad for professional
purposes, and Norway in which over half of them have done so.

In most countries, the mean age of (transnationally) mobile and non-
mobile teachers is roughly the same.

This means that their age is not generally a factor with much bearing
on their travel abroad for professional purposes.
INFLUENCE OF THE
SUBJECT TAUGHT
The transnational mobility of teachers may also depend on the nature
of the subject(s) taught. In all countries surveyed ( except Iceland ),
modern foreign language teachers are the most mobile compared to
teachers of the other subjects.

In the EU, over half of them have been abroad. Modern foreign
language teachers obviously need to train and practice the language
they teach. They also need to experience close contact with one of the
countries which national language corresponds to the language they
teach, in order to gain a deeper cultural insight to transmit to their
students. For these teachers more than those of other subjects,
transnational mobility seems to be a professional need.

However, the other side of the coin is that over 40 % of modern foreign
language teachers surveyed in the EU have never been abroad for
professional purposes, a finding possibly relevant to the quality
teaching of foreign languages
The most mobile groups by subject, after those who teach modern
foreign languages, are teachers of social studies and of reading, writing
and literature.

Around a quarter of these two groups went abroad for professional
purposes, although this is only half as much as the proportion of
modern foreign language teachers. Teachers of science and of
mathematics are the least transnationally mobile groups in the EU,
under 20 % of whom reported that they had been abroad for
professional purposes.

The countries with the seven highest proportions of teachers who have
been abroad for professional reasons, namely Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia,
Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway , also have high proportions of
mobile teachers that exceed the EU average by 10 percentage points or
over, in at least three of the five main subjects.

Iceland constitutes a marked exception to these trends as it has the
greatest proportion of internationally mobile teachers, whose
involvement in professional activity abroad is consistently high
irrespective of their school subject.
Purposes of transnational
teacher mobility
Learning languages is a very common motive with 39.6 % of mobile
teachers in the EU stating that this was why they went abroad; the
same was also reportedly the case for over half of the mobile teachers
in Spain and Italy.

Study abroad as part of teacher education is almost as common a
reason given, cited by 37.8 % of mobile teachers in the EU and almost
one out of two in Italy.

Establishing contacts with schools abroad is a preparatory phase in
organising cooperation between schools or visits by students to a
school abroad.

This type of mobility generally involves teachers and students in a
medium-term project, in which the visit is a small part of a longer
period of physical or virtual student mobility, often using ICT.
In the EU, 32.2 % of mobile teachers said they went abroad to establish
contacts, while over half of the mobile teachers in Estonia, Poland, and Romania
cited this activity as a reason for doing so.

Teaching abroad is only given by 20.4 % of mobile teachers in the EU as a
reason for mobility. Romania is the country in which it was most often cited and
in which mobility for this purpose came second behind ‘establishing contact
with schools abroad’ (57.6 % of teachers).

Romania is also one of three countries in which transnational teacher mobility
rates barely reach 20 %. Finally, travel abroad to learn other subjects is far less
common than other reasons for mobility with only 8.1 % of mobile teachers in
the EU reporting that they went abroad for this purpose.

Funding schemes Organisation

In the EU, the main means of funding teacher mobility both during ITE and in-
service is Erasmus+ (2014-2020), the EU Programme for Education, Training,
Youth and Sport.Through this programme, both graduating and practising
teachers may get mobility grants to engage in studies or professional
development abroad, and may also be involved in transnational projects
entailing their mobility.
Mobility of Individuals
• Adult education staff mobility (2017)

• School Education Staff Mobility (2017)

• Higher education student and staff mobility within programme countries (2017)

• Higher education student and staff mobility between Programme and
Partner Countries (International Credit Mobility; Round 1; 2017)
(Higher Education applicants should also download the the Do’s and
Don’ts for Applications)

• VET learner and staff mobility (2017)

• VET learner and staff mobility with VET mobility charter (Will be available soon
due to technical difficulties)

• Youth Mobility (Will be available soon due to technical difficulties)

The Online Linguistic Support provides participants in Erasmus+ long-term
mobility activities (Key Action 1) with the opportunity to assess their knowledge of
the language they will use to study, work or volunteer abroad. Download Online
Linguistic Support Guide
School Education Staff Mobility
This mobility project can comprise one or more of the following activities:

Staff mobility:
• a teaching assignment: this Activity allows teachers or other school
education staff to teach at a partner school abroad.

• a staff training: this Activity supports the professional development of
teachers, principals, heads of school or other school education staff in
the form of: a) participation in structured courses or training events
abroad; b) a job shadowing/observation period abroad in a partner
school or another relevant organisation active in the field of school
education.

These activities are also an opportunity for teachers to gain competences in
addressing the needs of pupils with disadvantaged backgrounds. Given the
current context concerning young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,
particular attention will be also given to support projects that train teachers
in such areas as training refugee children, intercultural classrooms, teaching
pupils in their second language, classroom tolerance and diversity.