Brendan O'Malley reports
The TES is relaunching its Make the Link campaign today to encourage links between UK and overseas schools.
There will be pound;25,000 worth of TESHSBC Make the Link 2006 awards thanks to a donation from HSBC bank, with top prizes of pound;5,000 for the secondary school and further education college with the best range of overseas partnerships promoting curriculum work, global citizenship and sharing expertise.
Judith Judd, editor of The TES, said: "Last year more than 4,000 schools requested link partners in Europe and Africa alone. We want to encourage schools to turn those links into something of lasting educational value."
Dame Mary Richardson, chief executive of HSBC Education Trust, said: "HSBC knows the value of international understanding and how vital it is to engender it in young people. Last year's entries demonstrated the enterprise and diversity of activity of those schools taking part."
This year there are separate prizes for primary and secondary schools with the best global and European links and a special school award. A new Education for All prize will give recognition to the school that does most to encourage improvements in education in a developing country.
The TES will highlight the best examples of linking work in the paper and on the website. At one school this week, 140 pupils and teachers from schools in 10 countries, including South Africa, India and Sweden, gathered for a week-long conference on broadening horizons.
The event was hosted by St Wilfrid's Roman Catholic high school, a sixth-form and language college in Featherstone, west Yorkshire. Pupils from New York state also took part via video-conference links. Students watched an unfinished sketch, by theatre company Cragrats, about a young black man beaten up in a bar, for his skin colour, before debating the issue and producing a suitable ending.
Students celebrated cultural diversity in workshops on Bollywood dancing, Scottish dancing and Yorkshire pudding-making.
Andrew Lewis, head of the international dimension, said the aim was to challenge racial stereotypes, encourage friendships and give teachers an opportunity to plan future projects. He said: "This is about breaking down the distance between people. We are opening up the world to our pupils."
St Wilfrid's links range from projects on healthy diets with Norwegian and Danish schools, to a Year 13 programme on civil rights involving an American school.
"Our pupils need to be race conscious in this day and age," Mr Lewis said.
"Our links are raising their social and moral awareness."
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