TRAECE - Training, Networking and Mobility in Early Childhood Education and Care
ERASMUS+ Project TRAECE (Training, Networking and Mobility in Early Childhood Education and Care)
(1) Project title, support program, duration
The Department for EU Projects in Vocational Education and Training (VET), Cologne Government Regional Office (EUGES) has applied for an ERASMUS+ project at the National Agency for Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. The grant was awarded on 11 July 2018.
This project focuses on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) (ages 0-6).
Project duration: 11/2018 to 10/2020 (extended till 31/08/2021; pandemic)
Competence Matrix Early Childhood Education and Care
The aim of the project is to develop a competence-based overview in the form of a matrix which summarizes the necessary competences in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) at the age of 0 to 6 years in the participating project countries. This simplifies and promotes transnational internships.
THEME Smart Mobility Tool database - Update
The THEME Smart Mobility Tool database of EUGES was expanded to include the ECEC area, so that international exchanges can be carried out at the required high level and with the help of ECVET and assessment instruments. ECVET describes the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training, which is used as a European transparency instrument to facilitate the comparability and recognition of knowledge and competences acquired throughout Europe.
Expansion of European networks
A further objective is the expansion of European networks in the field of ECEC.
Test the products by exchanging of students (unfortunately has to be done afterwards projects`end (pandemic),
Network building - TRAECE Network with Board of TRAECE Network,
Presentation of innovative practical ECEC projects/approaches during project meetings.
1. Translation of Competence Matrix Early Childhood Education and Care
We experienced that the acceptance of the ECEC Matrix is much higher if the Matrix is also available in national languages. Therefore we provide the Matrix, next to the English version, also in Estonian, Dutch, German and Italian.
Versions of Competence Matrix Early Childhood Education and Care
We experienced that it is not practicable to work with the 41 pages big issue of the matrix in practice. Therefore we generated several working versions of the Matrix to facilitate comparing and direct working.
2. Mapping of Competence Matrix Early Childhood Education and Care
We experienced that there is a high acceptance of the users if they can easily identfy national competences/competence areas and see which parts of the Matrix are matched in which country and which occupation. Therefore we provide mapped matrices in which users can easily identify competence areas in which there is a match of own and other countries.
3. Educational Systems
We experienced that working with other countries in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care needs a huge amount of background information about the relevant social, societal and educational systems in the field. We therefore provide detailed information about the participating countries` educational and social systems. We used latest information from other projects and provide an overview of national occupations covering the Matrix including detailed information about them.
4. How to Use Tool (Website) - Detailed guidelines for using the tools, organizing, preparing and implementing high quality internships in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (step-by-step-approach)
5. Mutual Recognition Documents (Website) - We provide a detailed approach for mutual recognizing educations and/or parts of education in the field of ECEC
6. Pattern of a 4 Day Virtual Learning/Teaching/Training Activity (LTTA) (Website) - We provide agenda, accompanying booklet, working versions for moderators, partners and guests ("new" members of partner organisations). Included are introduction, tasks for virtual working groups, content and digital tools. The LTTA is organized in two hour modules. That facilitates the choosing of appropriate parts for all kinds of dissemination activities.
7. Additional Instruments for Database
Information about the database
General information about the database.
Guidelines for Database
We experienced that the offered tutorials and the complexity of the database may lead to limitations in using the tool. Therefore we are planning to offer regular diessemination events where we present tools and database. In addition we developed an additional written step-by-step-approach to run the process and to avoid mistakes by using the database.
FAQ-List for Database
In this context we developed a FAQ-List to reduce misunderstandings in the process.
Video of the use of database
We provide a video that shows a very detailed step-by-step information how to use the database.
8. Exchange and Mobility list
We provide an regularly updated list with contact data for exchanges in the field of ECEC, based on the tools and ideas of this TRAECE project.
Work steps of the project
1. The creation of a competence matrix in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) at the age of 0 to 6 years.
2. Development of learning outcome units and learning outcomes based on the competence development steps of the ECEC matrix.
3. Mapping of national occupational profiles within the matrix.
4. Definition common intersections of competences in order to integrate learning outcome units and learning outcomes during internships abroad into the respective national training plans.
5. Integration of the project results into the database THEME Smart Mobility Tool of EUGES.
6. Transfer of the results into ECEC networks.
(3) Project partners
Countries: Estonia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain
EU networks are associated via the cooperation partners of the EU office in Scandinavia.
The project partners from the EUREGIO Meuse/Rhine area are the VISTA_College (former Arcus College) in Heerlen from the Netherlands and the vocational colleges Berufskolleg Viersen and Käthe-Kollwitz-Berufskolleg Aachen for North Rhine-Westphalia.
All partners cooperate with kindergartens and educational institutions of all levels (vocational education and higher education).
(4) Target groups
Direct target groups who benefit from the project results are teachers in the training of educators, future educators and educators in day nurseries. Indirect target groups are children in day-care centres and their parents and institutions to arrange internships abroad.
(5) Interest of the project partners
Learning from each other, getting to know systems in order to understand, trust and afterwards exchange. Organize exchanges more easily, get to know innovative approaches to use yourself.
(6) Practical implementation
4 project meetings:
- Kick-off in Tallinn, Estonia;
- 2nd meeting in Heerlen, The Netherlands;
- 3rd meeting in Malaga, Spain;
- 4th meeting in Cologne, Germany (Virtual, pandemic)
- TeachingTrainingActivity in Vicenza, Italy (Virtual, pandemic)
(7) European added value
We expect a general increase and an improvement in the quality of mobility in the field of ECEC. In the medium term, this will help to increase cross-border mobility.
Mobility of skilled workers can help to bridge the gap between the need for well-trained skilled workers in some countries and unemployed skilled workers in others.
In general and on international level, the matrix and its instruments will be useful tools for greater transparency in the field of ECEC.
Learning outcomes can be used for cross-border recognition as well as for vertical recognition and, where necessary, for the recognition of non-formally acquired competences. All instruments also serve quality assurance.
The instruments developed can also be used as a basis for long-term internships abroad and as a prerequisite for mutual recognition of training courses/parts of training.
(8) Current status of the project (10/2021)
A whole Competence Matrix of ECEC competences has been developed. It is an overview of all competences in the field of ECEC (age 0-6 years) that takes place in Early Childhood and Care institutions in five European countries. The project consortium covers all geographically directions of the European compass, provides practical and educating sectors in the field with covering also cooperations with Higher Education and represents most of European kinds of welfare systems.
Furthermore the integration of the Matrix into the TSMT database is done and ready for use and dissemination activities concerning the distribution of results took place and with respect to the pandemic are in preparation.
In addition we successfully implemented the Learning/Teaching/Training Activity (LTTA) in a virtual way from 17th May till 20th May 2021 4 full days. We could convince new participants with the high level results and offers for practical use.
The working on the practical implementation and testing of the results was completed. Real testing was impossible because of the pandemic.
We are planning to do the testing in practice as soon as it is possible. Unfortunately afterwards the projects` end.
We will plan mobilities in which the results of the project are used.
Thus, for example, long-term practical stays of up to 6 months can also be made possible (e.g. in DE for an internship in the year of recognition as an educator).
Especially for vocational colleges close to the borders the products might be interesting: The results might lead in a variety of cooperations (e.g. internships from the Netherlands gain insights into German day-care centres during the internships and vice versa). Of course these opportunities are also possible for the other connected countries: Spain, Italy and Estonia. Concrete exchanges had been planned.
In this way, orientation can be made possible for later professional work in Germany. This is currently being supported by partial access to employment as a „Erzieherin/Erzieher in Kindertageseinrichtungen in Nordrhein-Westfalen“ ("kindergarten teacher in day-care facilities for children").
We developed a possibility to mutual recommend and recognize educations in the field and/or parts of it.
Furthermore we developed the LTTA in a way that it might be used for training issues or multiplier events. We developed modules that can be easily used and selected in the countries.
We also developed an area on the website “How to use TRAECE”. The area facilitates the organization and implementation of internships in the field.
At the final Transnational Project Meeting, that also was done virtually because of the pandemic we founded the TRAECE Network as a network in the field of ECEC. The aim is to disseminate the products of TRAECE and to regularly exchange about developments in the field. Furthermore it is planned to meet regularly in the partner countries to update tools and mobility list.
(9) Information from the application (National Agency Germany)
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.
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.
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 Higher Education sector.