School links and partnerships are not essential to the global dimension but, if done well, they can be used as part of the global dimension within your school.
Things to think about
The global dimension is on our doorstep, and not just in far away localities. Establishing partnerships with other schools locally, visiting places of worship, participating in local events, working with the local council and inviting parents/carers and other members of the local community into school can all help develop global perspectives.
You can build on links in the local community, for example, if there are a number students in the school or local people with origins in Nigeria, then you might choose to link with a Nigerian school.
Some UK clusters of schools link with a cluster in another locality to learn from each other. Other partnerships consist of two schools in different parts of the UK working with two schools in different parts of another country to highlight different perspectives within both the UK and the link country.
Partnerships with schools in other countries can expose teachers and students to very different learning and teaching contexts. This can help them examine their perceptions and values and appreciate how these affect attitudes and actions, challenging negative and simplistic stereotypes and images. Partnerships can also provide a basis for broadening curriculum and subject areas to incorporate wider global input and perspectives. To achieve these benefits, schools need to critically consider children and young people’s learning, for example, to avoid the perception that one school in India is representative of all India or all Asia.
It takes hard work, good communication and good curriculum and logistical planning to ensure that a partnership with another school is sustainable and contributes to learning. Partnership agreements, which are regularly revisited by the whole school communities, including senior management teams, are important for clarifying the aims of both partners.
Resources, advice and support
The organisations listed below can either help you find a partner school, or can offer support and advice on school linking.
Achievers International is an online enterprise project whereby a group of students and their teacher form a company, and import and export goods with a partner school overseas. The programme allows students to gain an insight into how businesses are formed and managed, and increases their awareness and understanding of other cultures. It provides a practical learning context for business studies, modern languages and ICT.
Connecting Classrooms is the British Council flagship international school partnership and professional development programme. It currently connects schools in 184 countries around the world that are keen to form bilateral and trilateral partnerships with schools in the UK. Schools can search and connect with potential partners using the partner finding tool on Schools Online. Once schools have connected and begun working with their partner school, they can apply for a grant to take part in a partnership project. Each school involved in the project can apply to receive £1,500 to fund reciprocal visits to their partners. The money is provided to cover all travel costs – flights, visas, accommodation, etc. There are three annual application funding deadlines.
The programme also offers a range of fully funded courses to support teacher professional development and global citizenship curriculum requirements. The courses are designed to suit a wide range of experience in international learning. Endorsed by the Institute of Education, the online and face to face courses, help to prepare schools across the world to build sustainable international partnerships and embed global citizenship in the curriculum, bringing the classroom to life.
iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is a non-profit organisation made up of over 20,000 schools and youth organisations in more than 115 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies.
Link Ethiopia is a charity dedicated to supporting education in Ethiopia and increasing cultural awareness between young people in Ethiopia and the UK. They set up, support and help manage links between UK schools and schools in Northern Ethiopia, in both the primary and secondary sectors. By encouraging young people to communicate and work together, they aim to create a real awareness not only of the diversity that exists between them but also of their shared aims and ambitions in a global community.
The Scotland Malawi Partnership is the national civil society network coordinating, supporting and representing the people-to-people links and long history between Scotland and Malawi. They have over 800 member organisations and key individuals, including over 180 primary and secondary schools. They encourage school partnerships between the two countries to develop this relationship, build on existing knowledge of Scotland/Malawi in the school communities and to act as a focus for global learning in both schools. A dedicated Youth and Schools Officer provides one-to-one support for each school. They can help identify a school to partner with and support through the early stages. They can also help sustain and develop existing school partnerships by giving advice, resources and new ideas. They have a quarterly newsletter, video case studies and four forums across Scotland each year, providing educational professionals with the chance to network, get free resources and discuss challenges/solutions. They also visit schools to do assemblies, lessons and language/culture workshops. All services for schools are free of charge.
SOS Children works in 124 countries caring for young people who have lost their parents. They offer a whole-school linking approach, whereby schools in the UK learn about the various facilities and projects in SOS Children’s Villages worldwide. These include Primary and Secondary schools, Medical Centres, Child Soldier and Street Children programmes. Linking to a Children’s Village allows exploration of themes in the syllabus and develop a global dimension to different subject areas as well as outside the classroom. Schools have the option to sponsor a Children’s Village, which UK teachers are able to visit for professional development.
UClass (United Classrooms) is a free social learning platform that connects classrooms around the world, enabling students and teachers to globally collaborate by engaging in a wide range of projects and activities. There are currently over 10,000 users in 60 countries and the organisation has partnerships with Teach for America, Teach for All, the Asia Society, SchoolTube and Concern Worldwide.