Abstract

Content

A high quality of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is crucial for the development of young children because it provides a precondition for future successful learning paths and a basis for a good start into the life of work and lifelong learning. Due to immigration and cross border mobility within Europe, ECEC professionals are increasingly challenged by the education and integration of children with varying cultural backgrounds. A high intercultural sensitivity and own intercultural experience help to face this challenge. The exchange of ECEC students and of ECEC staff combined with adequate mentorship and evaluation adds to qualify the staff therefor. In addition, ECEC professionals become more and more interested in own working mobility because of various reasons. But still cross-border mobility in the ECEC sector is quite difficult. The training for ECEC teachers varies broadly, their job description in different countries, too. Qualifications are far from being mutually recognized.
The objectives of this project are to improve the quality and recognition of learning experience in internships abroad during the training of ECEC professionals and to facilitate the mutual understanding on the competences needed in ECEC and thus open crossborder labour mobility. We want to develop and adapt useful tools with a systematic practical dimension.
In a consortium of six partners from five countries (DE, ES, EST, IT, NL) teachers for ECEC in vocational training schools and practitioners from ECEC institutions will work together in order to develop, revise and adapt instruments for the recognition of (long-term) internships abroad and to facilitate mobility (cross-border, vertical and horizontal) in general. Most of the consortium members are well experienced in international work.
Based on a Competence Matrix for ECEC which has been pre-developed by several European teachers and practitioners, we plan to improve it on a broad European level as basis for the development of relevant Learning Outcomes and as instrument to match different professional profiles. For better recognition, not only the agreement on Learning Outcomes is important but also their proper assessment and evaluation in order to make them formally recognizable. As the consortium unifies high competence and experience, work division according to the respective strengths and shared working sessions during the project meetings will lead to good quality results. All instruments will be available on a free accessible online platform which provides all ECVET documents and helps to facilitate the management of mobility projects. Impacts of the project are expected at local, regional, national and possibly also European level. Target groups are ECEC students, their teachers, ECEC practitioners and stakeholders in this sector. Sharing experiences and testing new methodological tools in multicultural contexts will provide all with new examples and ideas.
The participants will have the chance for a cross country exchange of their standards and ideas on ECEC in general and related to the education of qualified staff. They can set up a network for future cooperation and extend existing networks. They improve their personal and pedagogical competences especially with regard to assessment, evaluation and good mentorship. The exchange in a European context can improve their pedagogical motivation in general. The use of the database will facilitate their organizational work for mobility projects and at the same time offers quality assurance and assessment instruments.
For ECEC students the project provides more transparent ways to have their internships and parts of occupations validated and recognized as well as a professional mentorship.
Altogether, the project adds to human resources development, to intercultural learning, to the attractiveness of the institutions for students respectively for good staff and to a better recognition of competences within Europe.

EU Priorities
This project is focussing on the occupational field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and children between the age of 0 and 6 years. We assume that a high quality of ECEC is vital for the future development of young children and early childhood is the phase in which education can most effectively influence children’s development.
The project has to be carried out transnationally because immigration and cross border mobility within Europe is challenging ECEC professionals. The integration of children with varying cultural backgrounds in ECEC institutions is a demanding task. A high intercultural sensitivity and own intercultural experience help to face this challenge. The exchange of ECEC students and of ECEC staff combined with adequate mentorship and evaluation adds to qualify the staff therefor. In addition, ECEC professionals become more and more interested in own working mobility because of various reasons.
As mentioned above, still mobility in the ECEC sector is difficult. Training institutions, ECEC students and professionals which are not integrated in particular networks have to overcome several obstacles if they want to change their working place cross-border or do recognized internships abroad. The mutual recognition between Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education (HE) is very difficult. Furthermore the training systems for future ECEC professionals vary from country to country. Several former ECEC projects have been dealing with this problem. On the one hand many mobility projectts developed approaches that focus only on solutions of limited networks. The use of the results is limited because of the very quickly changing conditions in the field of ECEC.
On the other hand strategic projects developed results that focused on very abstract and theoretical approaches. The connection to the practical work level is missing, as our partners pointed out.
The objectives of this project are to improve the quality and recognition of learning experience in internships abroad during the training of ECEC professionals and to facilitate the mutual understanding on the competences needed in ECEC and thus open crossborder labour mobility.
Results are supposed to be used in the world of work, adaptable to European occupations in the field of ECEC and formulated as flexible as possible with respect to continously changing conditions in the field of ECEC.
We intend to develop tools as a constructive basis for future recognition and better labour market opportunities in the European ECEC sector that will add to a rising awareness about the ECEC teachers’ professional role and their attitude to intercultural learning.
First we are going to revise a Competence Matrix for the ECEC sector in a European consortium. In a second step we would like to develop Learning Outcomes based on the Matrix to describe the competences more detailed. This helps to clearly define Learning Outcomes for internships. In a third step these will be integrated into a database/on-line tool which has been developed in the former LdV project THEME (www.theme-eu.net). It can automatically create all ECVET documents as well as work related-, and transversal assessment documents. In a last step we would like to work on the existing assessment tools and revise and adapt them to the ECEC sector. It is vital to assess the results of the project in a European consortium with connected networks to provide a European acceptance.

Expected Results
A main and new result will be a revised Competence Matrix for the ECEC sector in a European consortium. Another and new result will be the common development of Learning Outcomes based on the Matrix to describe the competences more detailed. Both support the process of defining tasks and contents for internships on a high quality level. The extension of the existing database is another result. The database that was developed together with our Italian partner in the THEME project is able to automatically create all ECVET documents as well as work related-, and transversal assessment documents.
Another result will be the common revision of assessment instruments from other European Projects and their adaption to the ECEC sector. Furthermore we would like to build up a network and combine and relate existing networks in the ECEC sector. All results will be practical oriented and add to facilitate mobility in the ECEC sector as well as to a future better mutual recognition of trainings of ECEC professionals.
Next to the above mentioned outputs developed in this project, a website will be set up which will help to disseminate all results and give general information for the public on its public area. The interim and the final report will inform the National Agency and especially the interim report will help to give an in-between stage of the project for all project members and possibly the ECEC institutions with which they are linked.
We will use project flyers to inform about the project and they are supposed to be used from all partners for dissemination purposes.
The recognition of the Learning Outcomes in all partner countries and the mutual  recognition of certificates or parts of it between Erasmus+ different European countries by means of the Matrix and the assessments developed in the project are more important results expected.
In addition, we expect ideational respectively non direct measurable results, namely a rising awareness concerning the importance of mobility and intercultural learning in the ECEC sector and an added value for the trainers (in ECEC institutions as well as in the VET colleges) in the way that all are well prepared for good mentorship by using developed tools and increase their awareness for intercultural questions and the importance of Europe wide mobility, not only for students. Moreover, by developing the described results respectively by evaluating them, all partners will increase their self-reflection which is a very important competence in the ECEC sector.
By the combination of different kinds of partner institutions, different views will come together which can help to achieve high quality outcomes and at the same time give a lot of opportunities for new contacts and network building. These relationships are very helpful for the future exchange of students and possibly also for the recruitment of good staff in some partner countries.
Altogether the ECVET process will be further implemented because the use of all ECVET instruments (EUROPASS, Learning Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding) will be obligatory for all mobilities and at the same time an improvement in quality is to be expected.
As some partners are already experienced in the implementation of recognition in a vertical direction, we expect a benefit from the results for vertical mobility, too. This is of special interest for those partners and associated partners who have a VET system in the ECEC sector with specifications in the HE sector.