At EU level, in the framework of the efforts to create a European Education Area by 2025, an important element will be played by an expected increased participation of schools in the Erasmus+ Programme. Despite the increased simplification in terms of access to the programme which has been introduced over the years by the European Commission, international activities through the programme are at reach for still a relatively low number of schools compared to the overall numbers of educational institutions which could potentially participate.

An important element that contributes to a larger participation in the Erasmus+ programme rests in an increased organisational capacity of schools to act at international level. But what does this mean and especially how can this be achieved?


The BE+ project offers a practical approach to these questions which stems from the need of interpreting capacity building as an ongoing process which is based on an encompassing vision of the school as a learning organisation.

Scholars have been researching the topic extensively and one of them in particular A. Kaplan has identified a number of elements which have inspired the approach proposed by BE+.

The very notion of capacity building, as well as many methodological tools nowadays used in relation to EU project development and management, originated from the field of international development cooperation.


Specifically, the first aspect stands in the importance of considering the intangible aspects of capacity building such as a shared vision of the school and its attitude as an organisation towards learning and not only those pertaining to the more tangible aspects such as project activities and financial resources etc. A second important aspect pertains the importance of recognizing capacity building not as something static but as developmental, a continuous work in progress inside the organisation that needs to be adjusted to the specific context and background of each school.


The self-assessment process is based on four steps:


Fill in the questionnaire

The first step consists on filling in the questionnaire. To best reflect the current situation, meaning the real capacity of the school, we recommend to distribute the questionnaire broadly among the school staff.

The questionnaire aims to provide some feedback and indications about the quality of the international activities done in the school and on the school’s current capacity in the context of Erasmus+ collaborations. 

The purpose is not to judge but to let teachers and staff consider elements that can be of help in improving the quality of the international while giving an opportunity to set in motion a process of reflection which can lead to an enhanced organisational capacity.

After completing the questionnaire, participants receive automatic and personalised feedback based on the responses.


organise the first focus group

Organise the first focus group where the results of the questionnaire are briefly presented and shall serve the purpose to launch a first round of reflections about the converging or diverging views emerged from the respondents.

The selection of the participants should be oriented to include different typology of staff as the inputs and the reflections should help in achieving a shared result acknowledged by a variety of actors working in the school. It is crucial that as many units of the school as possible as well as horizontal functions such as managers or administrative staff are represented. A mix of staff that has served for a long time in the school as well as others that are newcomers could also bring added value to the activity.



The third step of the self-assessment process pertains the organisation of a second focus group. Contrary to the first focus group, the purpose of this activity is to generate reflections and an internal discussion on the operational level, i.e. on how the school plans and implement international activities.

In order to have a more informed discussion about the opportunities offered by the Erasmus programme, videos and/or the materials developed by the Erasmus Programme are presented. It is expected that the same participants of the first focus group attend also the second one.



The previous steps have been important milestones in the development of a self-assessment process in the school involving its different components. The fourth and final step consists in the finalisation of the process through the development of an international strategy document of the school reflecting the work done so far and setting the basis for the future international activities.

The creation of international capacity at school level through a process such as the one suggested in this guide requires not only the involvement of all key components of the school but also that the results it generates are reflected into a document that can serve as guidance in a medium long-term perspective. It is therefore crucial that a strategy is developed in order to “push” the school as an organisation to set priorities, identify processes and roles and design activities consistent with some clear objectives.

International activities take generally more time to be developed and implemented than those with a local dimension only. Therefore, the presence of a guidance document is fundamental in ensuring that a more continuative attention is devoted to European cooperation as a regular tool of development in the life of the school. There is no standardised format for a school’s international strategy, but those schools in the partner countries that have adopted a strategic document pertaining their international activity have included a set of recurring elements which are illustrated below.

Hear from

“The start was exciting and so challenging: it was the first time we made a focus group, the schools are not used to reflect about theirselves… but it’s important, because we need to know the direction we want to follow if we want long-time achievements in European dimension!”

the journey of ic guatelli - italy