Pupils dance across borders

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Thousands of schools respond to TES campaign

From learning traditional Ghanaian drumming to sharing farming tips, pupils across the UK have been working with schools all over the world.

More than 4,000 UK schools have requested an overseas partner school since the TES's Make the Link Campaign was launched in March.

In total, 300 schools entered the TESHSBC Make the Link awards for European and world links, with a top prize of pound;5,000 for the international school and international sixth-formFE college of the year.

In April, 2,110 UK schools were registered as seeking an overseas partner on the British Council's Global Gateway website. By September this number had almost doubled to 4,050 schools and a record 2.4 million people had visited the website.

Two thousand schools have also asked for a link partner in Africa through other organisations.

Wendy Berliner, deputy editor of The TES, said the response was "extraordinary. "It shows schools have a tremendous thirst for promoting greater understanding of - and engagement with - the wider world."

Some 3,180 schools from Europe are looking for UK partners via the Global Gateway as are 200 schools from Africa.

Rosalind Morton of the British Council said: "Interest about Africa from UK schools is increasing but the focus of activity is still on Europe."

Entrants to the TESHSBC awards included St Cleer primary in rural Cornwall in the world link category. It is using a common interest in farming to help its partner school, Shigamba primary in Tanzania, build compost heaps rather than burn farm waste and to obtain seeds.

Wildern community school in Southampton has entered the European category.

Its links with schools in Le Havre, Dresden and Madrid grew out of the Rock Challenge, a dance competition with an anti-drugs message. Pupils organised shows in England and abroad with their European partners.

Alison Neasom, performing arts assistant co-ordinator at Wildern school, said: "It makes our pupils understand how small the world is. The partnership breaks down barriers and will give pupils confidence about going abroad." Three times as many schools entered for the world award as for the European one and African links dominated.

Winners will be announced at the British Council's International School Award ceremony in London on October 12 and published in The TES on October 14. Link Community Development, which supports links with schools in Africa, says enquiries have rocketed from 10 a month in 2004 to 150 in July this year.

FE FOCUS 3 If you have an interesting European link email Make_the_Link@tes.co.uk.

www.tes.co.ukMake_the_Link, www.globalgateway.org

www.bbc.co.ukworldclass, www.lcd.org.uk

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