The Confluence Blog

Latest News from Confluence Scotland

15/10/2017 10:01 AM
A varied summer...
Last weekend we said goodbye to the last of our ‘summer visitors’, a great group of colleagues from vocational schools and colleges in Berlin, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg. During the week they were with us we of course discussed the teaching of English in vocational settings, but we were all also able to benefit from the hospitality offered by colleagues from Edinburgh College, Skills Development Scotland and the Recruitment and Skills Centre at Fort Kinnaird. 

On the terrace of Edinburgh College's eh15 restaurant before another delicious lunch prepared by the students. 

The great thing about our job is that no two weeks are the same – whether it is working with our regular business clients who are living here in Scotland, or receiving visitors from all over the EU – the variety keeps us stimulated and on our toes. The gloom of Brexit apart, here is a selection of positive EU-funded events this year:

Colleagues from Germany, Finland, Spain and Croatia attended our course for vocational teachers in March and July, and primary & secondary teachers from Germany, France, Portugal, Iceland & Slovenia were with us for our summer immersion course for teachers of general English.

A group of lively trainee primary teachers from the training college in Laupheim, Germany were here in June and once more we offer huge thanks to the schools who hosted them on placement, this time St Mary’s RC Primary in Leith, and the Burgh and Whitecraig primary schools in Musselburgh.

Along with our colleagues from LFEE, we hosted a huge crowd – 56 of them! – of primary and vocational teachers from Montpellier in France for a 10 day training course in July.  And we must have done something right as we’re pleased to say they are returning next year!   They were up for everything –

And we are delighted that ongoing vocational exchange projects are continuing with the Alice-Salamon-Berufskolleg in Bochum and the Bergiusschule in Frankfurt.  Once again we greatly appreciate Edinburgh College’s involvement here.  We are also happy to be continuing our longstanding collaboration with the City of Munich – we are looking forward to welcoming 12 more colleagues from the world of Early Education at the end of this month.

None of this would happen without EU funding… we're just taking every month as it comes ... 

03/03/2016 06:28 AM
80 Autumn Visitors!

September - November 2015 were particularly busy months to round off the year - but rewarding, especially for Tine & Alison, who have spent long months organising the German projects!  Our Munich visitors arrived at the beginning of September. As part of their programme they spent two weeks in local nurseries and also attended a variety of workshops and talks - special thanks to our colleague Kirsten Harrold [in action below!], and to representatives from the Care Inspectorate and the City of Edinburgh Department of Children and Families for delivering these.

Then, in early October, a group of teachers from Germany, Iceland and Albania (via Germany!) attended our week-long course for vocational teachers of English. A visit to Edinburgh College provided insight into vocational training in Scotland and the group also had the chance to see a National Theatre Live screening of Hamlet at our local theatre, The Brunton.

The following two weeks we hosted immersion courses for primary, secondary & adult teachers from across Europe in conjunction with LFEE (and special mention as always for Ros, the supreme administrator!)  Working with Frances, Alison, Barbara & Julie, all the groups enjoyed a wide range of language activities, workshops and opportunities to discuss and share best practice over the course of the week. They also had a talk from staff at one of the main bookshops in Edinburgh and had the chance to explore Edinburgh and the East Lothian castles with Alison. Evening activities included skittles at Scotland’s oldest pub, a cinema trip to see the latest James Bond film ‘Spectre’ and a meal out at Merchants restaurant in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

07/02/2016 02:39 AM
Study visits and exchange
As well as the training courses for teachers of primary, secondary & adult students of English,  we have enjoyed being part of VET projects and study visits which have involved teachers of other subjects than English - from nursery education to CAD technology!  We are now in the third year of a project with the City of Munich which has been looking at the theme of inclusion in early education - 30 early years specialists have now visited us and experienced a variety of early education settings here, thanks to the hospitality of Edinburgh City Council & both private and Council run nurseries in East Lothian.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that this will develop into a true exchange, and allow teachers and trainers from here to experience a study visit to Munich next year.
We are delighted that this is already happening with a project we have set up together with Laupheim Training College in Baden-Württemberg - The Burgh Primary in Musselburgh has not only hosted our visitors from both Munich & Laupheim, but has also been able to send some of their own staff across to Germany this year.  We are very much hoping this will grow.

Our Bavarian visitors being served by Professional Cookery students at Edinburgh College.

Over the past two years we have also enjoyed hosting  40 vocational teachers from the Bavarian region of Unterfranken and the city of Würzburg. Each October our colleague Wendy O'Hara has travelled north specially to help deliver the 'Language for Work' course to our visitors - and to add an English dimension!  After their language course the visitors have spent a week in a wide variety of businesses connected to their own specialist fields - from finance to road haulage.  We owe special thanks to local businesses who have been willing to participate in this - and to our good friend Fiona who has found them all hospitable private hosts to stay with. Our friends in the Mid and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce were equally hospitable to a visiting student from Munich who was with us us for 6 weeks in the summer - it really seemed to be a mutually beneficial exercise! 

01/12/2015 06:59 AM
An International Year

Another busy year is coming to a close for Confluence. At last we are bringing this blog up to date! 

As always, the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across Europe has been incredibly enriching. We are also delighted that Barbara Jones has increased her involvement at Confluence - having relinquished her post at Beeslack High School, where she has been teaching for the past 12 years, she is now sharing some of her other talents with us too, whilst adding a CELTA training to her list of skills. She is still actively involved with the delivery of the training courses, along with our team of Jane, Frances, Anne,  Julie, Tine, Wendy & Alison. In July, after 10 years of sterling service, having been heavily  involved since the very beginning, Margaret decided to step down after delivering  yet another very successful course for Primary teachers. We shall miss her!

Since the start of the Erasmus+ Programme, in the summer of 2014, we have welcomed over 200 colleagues on various Erasmus+ projects - and we can now proudly say that 28 EU nations & associated countries have been represented amongst the participants in these.  Last year we added Romania & Slovenia to our list, and this year Slovakia.  Colleagues from the French regions of Tahiti and Reunion Island have also added their own special flavour to the week-long training courses which we share with our colleagues from LFEE.  But it's also great to have friends from Iceland and Malta back with us again after a few years' break. 

Frances and Alison with visiting secondary & adult teachers from Iceland, Germany, Finland, Italy, France, Lithuania & Slovakia.

17/04/2014 02:41 AM

This year marks the launch of the new EU-funded programme, ‘Erasmus +’, combining the former Comenius, Erasmus, Grundtvig and Leonardo programmes – a lot of the time that has elapsed since our last blog post has been taken up with figuring out how Confluence Scotland will fit into this – however, other things have been happening too, so here is an overdue update!

Despite the initial widespread confusion regarding the new Erasmus + system, we finally seem to have it sussed and we are currently processing the mountain of applications we have for our 2014-2015 immersion courses for European teachers of English. Our immersion courses, jointly run with LFEE Europe, are taking place in July and October of this year, and March and April of next year. Preparation for the workshops is starting to take shape and we are very much looking forward to welcoming participants from countries all over Europe, from Iceland to Malta.

In addition to the above immersion courses, we also have 3 groups of teachers from Germany coming across in June, September and October. The first of these groups, arriving in June, are trainee primary school teachers from Laupheim Teacher Training Institute in Baden Württemberg, and we have placements organised for them in schools across East Lothian. In September we have a return visit from nursery teachers from Munich who will be on placements in nurseries across the Lothians; and then in October a group of 20 vocational teachers from northern Bavaria arrives and they will be job shadowing in companies throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians. These visits are between 2 and 3 weeks in duration, and in addition to the placements the particpants will also be taking part in our language workshops and cultural exchange activities. 

Aside from all that, every day work continues! This includes language teaching for our individual and business clients, setting up a new German Club for kids in Portobello, and preparation for the busy period ahead. We can also announce that we are delighted to have welcomed Rachel Seago on to our team.  Rachel is a languages graduate who has also completed a TEFL qualification – it’s great to have her on board!

24/09/2013 03:45 AM
A fresh start ...
... for a fresh new look, as Tine & Alison head off to Bishopbriggs Academy in Glasgow tomorrow to meet students and future linguists at the Goethe Institut's 'Think German' Career Fair.  This coincides with the European Day of Languages on 26th September, too, so it seems a good week to be starting afresh.
     It's been a busy summer at Confluence, which we have all enjoyed - Alison has been working 1:1 with a great variety of interesting clients over the summer season, some professional linguists - translators and conference interpreters - and some motivated individuals from the business world.  And we have all benefited hugely - as always - from meeting several lovely groups of visitors on EU-funded programmes - firstly, English teachers from all across Europe, who have attended the courses we run jointly in July with our partners LFEE Europe. This year there were over 70 teachers with us, from Iceland to Malta - and many lands in between!  Here are some of them immersed in a role play exercise -
      And last weekend we said goodbye to 10 delightful early educationalists from the City of Munich, who spent two weeks with us on a study visit, exploring how 'inclusion' is implemented in our nursery schools here in Scotland, in Edinburgh and the Lothians.  Tine's first hand knowledge of their mutual Bavarian homeland was vital, as was the hospitality of the five nurseries involved - and our colleague Kirsten Harrold from Edinburgh College was able to share her expertise in the workshops - a fun bilingual experience and a true exchange of ideas!  We are already looking forward to a return visit next year.