A 5 days course or a 3 days course for benchmarking? This is a question that is often asked by those professionals of education who want to learn to know more about Finnish and Estonian schools in practice.
As the name says “benchmarking” means more than just information about education. Benchmarking gives you the evidence of your own eyes. Observation and interaction by means of presentations, discussions, and workshops can give you as much input as you can take during one week of benchmarking. The courses include contacts with universities and teacher training schools and institutions both in Helsinki and in Tallinn. There is also the viewpoint of job shadowing. Later in this blog I explain what it can also mean in terms of KA2 mobilities of Erasmus+.
If your main interest is preparation for making your school international and you need the best possible tuition for that, then it is my colleague Ludo Mateusen who can help you. I don’t know any person who is more committed with the topic of internationalization of schools than Ludo. He is responsible for the Euneos courses “How to make your school international” in Benalmadena Spain and Porto Portugal, see http://www.ejournal.fi/course-international .
I am responsible for the “Best Practices Benchmarking Courses” in Finland and Estonia, see http://www.ejournal.fi/benchmarking.
Benchmarking courses are normally 5 days courses including 3 days benchmarking in schools of Helsinki and 2 days benchmarking in schools of Tallinn. The arrival is always on Sunday, and the departure either Friday or Saturday depending on the flights. There are the airports Helsinki-Vantaa and Tallinn airport where to fly to. The transfer from one city to another over the Baltic Sea is 80 km, and it takes 1,5 hours by ferry. There are ferrries between Helsinki and Tallinn all day long. So. logistically, it’s quite easy and comfortable to change from city to city.
It should be no problem that a course takes place in two countries, because both are EU countries. If you think your national agency may have some reservations concerning this please ask them for advice.
Because you may come from a longer distance to Finland and Estonia, I would say that the option of 3 days course is not proper for you. It’s mostly meant for Finns and Estonians who cannot take part in 5 days courses due to the rule that no one gets a grant for a course which takes place in her or his own country.
I recommend benchmarking courses especially for the educational staff who want to have more knowledge about practical arrangements of education in European schools. The course participants will be a group of professionals who know a lot about their own schools, of course, and who will share this knowledge to each other during the course. Besides, they can see how education is arranged in Finnish and Estonian schools in practice. Besides, there is a good opportunity to discuss about cooperation in Erasmus+ KA2 projects during the course and possibly agree on a common project. This is an important chance because there are no preparatory meetings in KA2 mobilities, unlike Comenius projects before.
And, one additional option, you can always think about benchmarking as preparation for your personal job shadowing period in Finland and/or in Estonia and your school or institution can add this to its school policy plan. The new Erasmus+ program emphasizes job shadowing, and I think it is really good if your school has a concrete plan for it and is ready to apply for support. I am quite convinced that schools performing professional career design for their teachers and other staff are very much ahead of those who don’t know what to do for future.
I hope this mail clarifies what it means to apply for a benchmarking course. I write and publish a blog here in https://ilpohalonen.wordpress.com where you can read more about benchmarking and about other issues of Erasmus+ . Please be my follower if you need to read more in future.