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Education: School linking give pupils a global outlook

Every school in the UK will get a chance to link up with a partner school in a developing country under a new scheme launched today

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Every school in the UK will get a chance to link up with a partner school in a developing country, thanks to a new scheme to share experience, knowledge and skills between pupils and teachers across the globe.

The Connecting Classrooms scheme draws on the latest technology to help students interact internationally and learn more about the world around them.

Web-conferencing, online discussion forums and mobile phone apps will be used in the new three year project funded by UK aid and the British Council.

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DFID podcast - Connecting classrooms by DFID

British schools will be encouraged to make creative use of the technology as part of the Connecting Classrooms programme, for example:

  • Staging joint assemblies with children in other countries, via web-conferencing
  • The development of mobile apps that will give users access to Connecting Classrooms’ materials and resources
  • Participating in online discussion forums where teachers can collaborate and share expertise
  • Using a dedicated website to help schools find a suitable link, keep in touch and develop their partnership
  • Taking part in online professional development courses, where teachers can further their skills in English, ICT and help equip young people to learn about global issues and become responsible global citizens
  • Documenting their international work and building up a portfolio of evidence to apply for accreditation through the International School Award

Andrew Mitchell launched the scheme today alongside the British Council’s Chief Executive, Martin Davidson CMG, at Tollgate Primary in Plaistow, London, which is linked with Green Village School in Bangladesh.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

This new programme will allow more children growing up in the UK to learn about the world around them, about the facts of poverty that face children their own age in developing countries.

It will also greatly benefit pupils and teachers in developing countries by helping to improve their ICT, English and professional skills.

The UK Government has worked closely with the British Council to design a really effective programme that offers good value for money to the British taxpayer. I urge all schools to consider how they can use this opportunity to benefit their students.

Connected: Andrew Mitchell meets the pupils at Tollgate Primary school who linked up with a school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Picture: Matt Writtle

Education Secretary Michael Gove also expressed support for the scheme, saying:

International links between schools can be hugely beneficial to both teachers and pupils. This programme will bridge geographical boundaries to spark interaction between classrooms and open up new understanding of societies, languages and cultures around the world.

Teachers can benefit professionally through learning about partner schools approaches to teaching and learning and their achievements. I hope schools take this opportunity and get involved.

British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson CMG gave his full support, stating:

Connecting Classrooms gives our young people a chance to develop the skills and understanding they need to thrive in a global society. The link between Tollgate Primary School and Green Village School in Dhaka, Bangladesh shows the dramatic impact international school partnerships can have on pupils, teachers and the local community. We hope schools across the UK will want to sign up.

Connecting Classrooms, will build on global learning schemes already run by the British Council, to provide an improved and simplified service to schools.
It will help teachers develop and sustain links with schools in over 50 countries worldwide, offering online support, grants for travel and training for teachers and school leaders. UK aid will be used to support partnerships between the UK and 29 developing countries.

Despite costing 24% less than previous school linking schemes, it will allow 15% (1,800) more schools to benefit from a full programme of support.
By bringing this concept up-to-date through an interactive online platform and focus on communications technology (ICT), at least 18,000 additional schools will be able to collaborate online.

Connecting Classrooms will also enable teachers and other education professionals to experience and learn from the most innovative and successful approaches to education policy and practice around the world.

The programme will allow over 15,000 teachers to complete professional development training in global citizenship, ICT and English language for international exchange.

Furthermore, links with universities around the world will allow teachers in the UK and in developing countries to gain accreditation for their new skills.

Courses in school leadership will also help over 3,200 head teachers overseas to improve their school management skills, while teachers in the UK will be able to share their leadership expertise with peers in developing countries, through a mentoring programme.

Find out how to get involved at:

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Published 18 June 2012