Global Education Consultancy
International School Partnerships
International partnerships are an excellent way to make your students into global citizens, especially if the partnership is integrated into curriculum activities. An international partnership can be a life-changing experience for teachers and pupils. However international partnerships can also be time-consuming and distracting. So it is up to you how you start a partnership and then develop it within your school. Iain Baird has direct experience of European, East African and Asian school partnerships and can provide advice and support. He has also led school visits to France and many student exchanges to Western Kenya, so can also offer direct support for any school exchanges that you may be planning. Iain can take you through the maze of flight booking, insurance and risk assessment writing.
How do I start planning an international partnership?
The first step is to decide why you want an international partnership.
Do you want to extend work that you are already doing in the curriculum? If so, then the choice of country and type of school may directed by the curriculum work, making your choices much easier.
Do you want your pupils to learn more about a different culture and/or religion? In this case you need to find out which country offers you the best opportunity to study different cultures.
Do you want your staff to develop professionally and to learn about different teaching strategies? In this case you may need to do some research and contact other schools or your local Global Education consultant about the teaching and learning methods used in different parts of the world.
Who is going to manage the partnership? Do NOT put it on the shoulders of one member of staff. Preferably set up an international link committee . Many partnerships flounder because they rely on one member of staff and then when that teacher leaves the school there is no one to take on the international partnership work. Head teachers - give your international partnership coordinator the time to do the planning work properly.
The second step is to find a school in the country or region that you have chosen. The best way to do this is to go to the British Council School On-Line website. You can then register your school and add the name of your school to the database of schools around the regions of the world supported by the British Council Connecting Classroom programmes. This is like adating agency and you may well find yourself contacted by a school or you may find a school that interests you on their lists. You can now make first contact and start sharing your details, aims and proposed future plans.
The third step involves actually getting down to preparing an action plan and start joint activities. However some words of caution:
Set yourselves targets that are realistic and timed. You want to celebrate your achievements at the end of your first year, so make sure that you don't set targets that are too ambitious. Make it clear in your action plan how you will know that you have achieved your targets.
Plan your partnership to last three or four years only. At the end of this time you can then review what you have done and decide whether you want to extend it. If you feel that you have probably done as much as you can within the partnership then both partners can move on without recriminations or bad feelings.