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What is Comenius?

The Comenius programme was set up by the EU in 1995 as part of the Socrates initiative with the objective of supporting teacher training, establishing school partnerships across Europe and funding multilateral education projects on issues relating to language learning, intercultural education, environmental and science education. 
In May 2007 the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) was launched. Comenius is a major strand of the programme along with Erasmus (for higher education), Grundtvig (for adult education), Leonardo (for vocational education) and the Transversal Programme, which includes elements like ICT, language learning and study visits.

Comenius is made up of three sections:
Comenius School Partnerships enable pupils, students and staff from across Europe to work together on joint projects.
Comenius Professional Development provides European in-service training for staff involved in school education and opportunities for trainee teachers. It also provides the opportunity to develop teaching resources.
Comenius Assistants are for prospective and trainee teachers, who are placed in schools and colleges across Europe. They can help to enhance the European and cultural dimension across the curriculum, as well as offer classes in their native language. Placements may be from three to ten months.

Comenius for teachers: Comenius Professional Development
If you are a teacher in one of the 27 EU member states, a country in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or in Turkey you are potentially eligible for funding under the Comenius scheme. 
Staff already in pre-school to late-secondary education (normally teachers and teacher trainers at primary and secondary level) can apply for funding for in-service training (IST) to attend a teacher refresher course in one of the member states. Your course must include teaching methodology as this is a requirement for funding.
If you work in adult education you can also apply for LLP funding, but through the Grundtvig action instead of Comenius. Although you can choose any teacher refresher course, the national agencies often prioritise courses that appear in the LLP course database (http://e c . e u r o p a . e u / e d u c a t i o n /trainingdatabase/) so it is a good idea to check there first.

Contact your national agency for advice about what to do if you want to apply and to check your eligibility. The LLP website gives contact details for agencies (http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/llp/national_en. html). Generally speaking, Comenius is offered to teachers who are attached to a state school in their country and who have a recognised teaching qualification. If you work in a private school or are unsure of your eligibility, contact your national agency for more information.

Tips for success:
•    Contact your national agency. You can find lists of courses, application forms and information about deadlines on their website.
•    Read the guidelines for applicants carefully.
•    Check that the course you wish to apply for is eligible for Comenius funding. Ask the provider to confirm this before you make your application.
•    You will need a provisional acceptance from the course provider, confirming
•    full details of the course you have booked. You will have to send this acceptance letter with your application. 
•    Make sure that all factual information in the application form is correct. Just one slip is enough for your application to be put to one side.
•    Check the deadline for application and ensure that you send in the form well ahead of time. 
•    Give very detailed information on the application form about your reasons for choosing the course, how the course meets your own personal training objectives, how you and your institution will benefit professionally from you taking the course, how your teaching will be improved by the proposed course. If the course has been recommended to you, don’t forget to mention this.
•    Get professional help. There are lots of educational consultants and specialist language travel agencies who can help you fill in your application. Before you choose a consultant or agency, ask them about their success rate.
•    As soon as you receive notification of your national agency’s decision, tell the course provider so that they can either finalise arrangements for your course, including homestay or residential accommodation, or, if you have not been successful, offer the place to another applicant.
•    Don’t give up. Everyone has stories of three unsuccessful applications, followed by a surprise success.

Comenius for prospective teachers: Comenius Assistants
The Comenius Assistants programme gives future teachers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the European dimension to teaching and learning, to enhance their knowledge of foreign languages, other European countries and their education systems and to improve their teaching skills. Comenius assistants receive grants to enable them to undertake an assistantship of three months up to one school year in a host school of another country participating in the LLP. The host school designates a fully qualified and experienced teacher to act as a supervisor for the assistant.
It is essential that assistants are fully integrated into school life though they may be based at more than one school, either to give extra variety to their work or to meet particular needs of neighbouring schools. Assistants are selected by the national agencies in their home country on the basis of academic performance and motivation.