Cat Davison, co-founder of Brighton College's UK-Ghana literacy charity Reading Spots, winner of this year's Tes International Award, gives her top tips for running a successful cross-border project
- Ensure that the project is genuinely collaborative, and that all partners have a strong voice in determining the aims and activities. Practical challenges often create an imbalance; we found that using WhatsApp was the best way to ensure effective collaboration.
- Give pupils on both sides genuine responsibility for the project and ensure it is led by their own interests. Reading Spots was initially established in part by six pupils at Brighton College, who applied to be ambassadors for the project; in Ghana, pupils at local schools volunteer in the Reading Spots to ensure their daily impact. Pupils also discuss debates in sustainable development together through our online course.
- Learning is greatly deepened when the partnership is embedded across the wider lives of the schools, enabling pupils (and staff) to interact with communities from different angles. The Reading Spots project was threaded into the English, geography and RS curriculum in the school, working with the school’s library and leading to numerous pupil-led events.
- It is crucial that the pupils understand the historical context of an international partnership. Given that Ghana used to be a British colony, it was important to place the entire project in this postcolonial context, and consistently engage pupils in critical reflection on how this affects actions and power dynamics now. This also enriched their wider understanding of development and charity in a global context.
- Think carefully about the wider implications of creating an international partnership on both communities, which can be complicated if there is an element of giving involved. I was incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to live in Ghana last year to complete a research project as part of a Master’s in Education and International Development, analysing the impact upon both communities.