A journalist called me from north-east Africa during half-term to say that Tyneside pupils were visiting a school in a dusty Eritrean town. Did I want him to cover it?
The pupils, from Norham community technology college in a deprived area, had raised pound;52,000 to help build classrooms and toilets, their contribution to the worldwide drive to provide Education for All by 2015.
In this year of Live8 and the Make Poverty History and Send My Friend to School campaigns there seems to be no limit to the lengths to which teachers and pupils will go to collaborate with schools in other countries.
Such links are mushrooming. Thanks to the Department for Education and Skills's Global Gateway website and campaigns such as our TESHSBC Make the Link Awards and BBC's World Class, more than 4,000 schools requested new link partners this year.
The task ahead is to channel this surge of interest into work of significant educational value. One way to do that is to ensure schools are credited for their achievements. To this end the DfES has asked the British Council to work with Ofsted and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to formulate ways that schools can build international work into their development plans and self-evaluation under the new relationship with schools initiative.
Schools will be advised on how to use international link work to contribute to the five outcomes set out in Every Child Matters: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a productive contribution, and enjoying economic well-being. A key aim is to develop plans and achievements in international work that will ensure they are evaluated and accredited - leading to more schools obtaining the International School Award kitemark. Another is to cut down on the paperwork needed to obtain funding from the schemes for linking and study visits.
This would be a welcome step towards the DfES's aim, in its international strategy, of encouraging schools to tackle global citizenship, social justice, sustainable development, diversity, values and perceptions, interdependence, conflict resolution and human rights.
Brendan O'Malley TES international editor The contents of this magazine are the responsibility of The TES, not the sponsors