Seven steps to the world

15th April 2005 at 01:00
It is the usual story: you would love to make a link with a school in Africa, Sri Lanka, or Malaysia, but where on earth do you start?

Well, it could be just as easy as corresponding with children in France or Germany, even though your town or school will not have a twin community, none of the teachers knows the country well, and nobody has a natural contact.

Here are seven simple steps to linking with the world:

* Start with a brainstorming session. Global citizenship: how can you help a partner school in some collaborative way, without being patronising? This gives children a strong sense of ownership, way beyond mere concern about the tsunami, because they can actually do something positive.

* Work out what children will learn. The aim is to find things that will enrich their curriculum through first-hand contact on joint projects. See how they can share not just the sadness of disasters, but the richness of other people's culture and way of life.

* Discover how you can benefit from the expertise of heads and teachers who have learned amazing professional insights from teachers in developing countries via two-way study visits.

* Find yourself a school. The Department for Education and Skills has a one-stop shop for finding link partners via their Global Gateway (www.globalgateway.org). The UK One World Linking Association links schools to partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (www.ukowla.org.uk).

* Contact people who have been to countries in Africa, Asia, or elsewhere, perhaps through Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) programmes. The Link Community Development Scheme places teachers for six weeks in countries like Ghana, South Africa and Uganda (www.lcd.org.uk).

* Go on a visit or take part in an exchange yourself. Both you and your exchange partner will learn an enormous amount professionally. The Link Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers can help (www.lect.org.uklect).

* Choose a topic to research. In England you can try the DfES Teachers International Professional Development Scheme (www.britishcouncil.orgtipd), but you need to apply through your local education authority on a theme to research.

For heads, the British Council and National College for School Leadership run placement schemes that offer experience abroad (www.britishcouncil.orglearning.htm).

Get up and go now. Global citizenship is more than just a possibility today. Satellite, e-mail and the internet mean you can make a school link with the world more easily than used to be the case.

There are no limits to teachers' and children's imagination. So what are you waiting for?

Details about our campaign at www.tes.co.ukMake_the_LinkIf you have an innovative link, email: Make_the_Link@tes.co.uk

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