Successful school partnerships
British Council tips to make your link work
Start with the Basics
• Set clear aims and objectives.
• Adopt an equity-based approach.
• Base plans on the strengths and needs of each school.
• Embed the partnership in school life.
• Secure support of senior management.
• Plan including a communication plan.
• Designate roles & responsibilities.
• Make contingency plans.
• Monitor and evaluate.
Effective communication is the key to a successful partnership:
• Write a communications plan and stick to it.
• Email, Skype, phone calls, text, video conference are all possibilities, as well as traditional post - don't forget to exchange addresses. Decide what will work best for your partnership in the beginning and be prepared to adapt.
• Be clear about the details - Who? How often? What number? Which addresses?
• Consider shared websites perfect for project-based discussions, forums, displaying project work.
As well as the Olympic Dreams 2012 project, involve as many pupils as possible using the 'World', 'Olympic' and 'Dreams' themes.
• within which subjects and year groups could you incorporate the themes?
• aim to embed the project into the curriculum; this is the best way for it to be really successful. For example, geography projects on the rivers of China; comparative history projects on the UK and France or science projects comparing climate in the UK and Pakistan.
• think about having achievable, bite-size projects that will give your partnership a sense of achievement when completed - these will lead on to larger scale projects over the course of your partnership.
• remember that there could be a language barrier with your partners; consider this when planning together and be patient.
• project examples
World : start up projects - culture in a box / world outside my window
Olympics: themes from the athlete's experiences eg competes against the odds - personal best - struggle against injury - or general sports exchange - competitions - cultural events
Dreams: what are the dreams and aspirations of your pupils and those in your partner school? How can your schools' pupils achieve their dreams?
Take a look at the Olympic Dreams plan and the template plan.
Making the project fun
If the project isn't fun then pupils are unlikely to want to do it and it won't be sustainable! Think about the following:
• International Days within schools; have themed lessons, language classes, art or music workshops to get the whole school involved.
• Sport, dance, art or music-based projects.
• Share simple language work so the pupils get used to being global citizens
• Display boards are a great way for pupils to show off photos and create a focus for the partnership. Run a photo competition for the pupils on a project theme and see what you get.
Involving the community
This is a really useful way of getting additional support for your partnership so why not think about the following:
• How can you involve your local community through your global link?
• Hold an international day; invite parents, local community representatives and local businesses.
• Utilise the community you live in; if there are speakers of your partner language ask them to teach a class for the project. If there are parents who can teach dance/art/craftwork or even just relay stories of their origin-countries, get them into school
• Break down the inter-generational gap by asking elderly people in your local community to come into schools to share their experiences, life stories and skills.
Comparing Education Systems
Make time to discuss this as it will have a big influence on how the project will work:
• Who runs the school? What is the role of the Headteacher/Principal?
• What is the teaching style?
• Is the school facing changes or in a stable system?
• What type of school is it? State, private and faith schools?
• What age do pupils begin and end compulsory education?
• What subjects are compulsory and non-compulsory?
• How flexible is the curriculum - who decides how to teach the subject?
• How are pupils and teachers addressed?
• What are the ages of transition between schools?
• When are the school exams (national/local/school) and holiday times?
• What choices do students have following compulsory education?
• What are the employment issues for teachers e.g. permanent or temporary contracts/national?