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Pioneers reach all corners of the planet

It is not often that I am surprised nowadays, since I meet teachers from all kinds of schools on a regular basis, but judging the TESHSBC Make the Link awards was an eye-opener.

I started my career as a modern languages teacher, and my classes corresponded with and visited schools in France and Germany. For today's pioneers the whole world is the challenge.

Hove Park school has links, projects and exchanges with schools in 11 countries, spanning 15 subjects and involving everyone from teaching assistants to school governors.

With today's portable interactive technology, and the assistance of international bodies like the British Council, few places on the planet are beyond reach. Add a touch of imagination and drive, and both primary and secondary schools can perform astonishing feats.

It did not matter how remote a school was from a major city. Ysgol Y Dderi is a primary school with a mission. Located in a rural valley in west Wales, it has forged links with nine European countries. Each school takes part in a project studying plant life, history and culture.

Schools made light of their own difficulties. Seaton Burn community college is not located in the wealthiest of areas, in North Tyneside, but it works closely with a cluster of local primary and secondary schools and more than 60 people have visited their partner schools in Kenya. See more about this impressive work on their website: www.ndhiwa.com.

There was so much energy and imagination that it is difficult to know what to pick out. One primary school made a series of photographs. Year 1 children filmed a day in the life of a child in their own and their partner school. Older pupils looked at where water came from and how waste was handled in the two communities. There were some telling differences, like African children who got their water from the lake and had to scrub the cooking pots.

It was all extremely impressive, as these were ordinary children and teachers in ordinary schools making a reality of global citizenship. What a stirring example of teaching and learning at their very best.

* To find out more about funding exchanges and visits see www.globalgateway.org

Ted Wragg is emeritus professor of education at Exeter university and was one of the Make the Link judges

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