Our international partnerships have developed over a few years. We’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in Comenius projects and have also developed our own partnerships with school in Australia and China, but how do such partnerships benefit school? What difference does any of this make?
If staff attend a course or training session they will invariably come back to school citing the informal chat and the lunch as particularly valued times, it enables them to network and share ideas. The course content is often lost very quickly once back in school, making little lasting impact on practice. Through British Council funded Comenius projects we have been able to take CPD to a different level witnessing a profound and lasting impact on those involved. Staff have gained so much of lasting value by visiting partner schools in Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and Finland. Our current project will enable teachers and support staff to visit schools in Turkey, Estonia, Germany, Poland and France. Once staff leave school the dialogue begins, once they arrive at partner schools the conversation develops, comparing, contrasting sharing similarities and exchanging ideas and apporoaches.
The impact of international work at a school and individual level easily outlasts the duration of the visit. For those interested the opportunity to take part excites and motivates them, it puts a spring in their step and adds additional enthsiasm to their practice both prior to visits and after them. The sense of purpose such projects can bring to the children’s work means they are also further motivated by an international peer audience. The opportunity to develop an ongoing online dialogue has never been easier, the chance to share information never simpler or more immediate.
The work with our Australian partners has been documented here previously. The opportunites to visit each others’ schools is obviously limited but the children have benefited from video conferencing and use of web 2.0 tools such as wallwisher. We make good use of email and blogging too. The new link with China is developing and again I have posted about this here already. The children are fascinated by a culture so different to theirs. They are thoroughy enjoying finding out all about school and life for children at our partner school in Beijing. Along with our partner school, Robin Hood in Birmingham, we hope to be able to take pupils out to China by next summer.
For our pupils, finding out about other cultures and comparing them to their own is developing their cultural awareness and understanding in a way no PSHE lesson could hope to do. The chance to work on international projects has given staff and pupils a global perspective and an opportunity to look beyond local practices and solutions. It has given them an appetite for working across the world with peers who develop their knowledge and understanding and further their learning.
- Primary Education in China – First thoughts from Beijing (smichael920.wordpress.com)
- Pleased to meet EU (pleasedtomeeteu.wordpress.com)
- The Staff Surgery (smichael920.wordpress.com)
- International Schools – Understanding the Differences (prweb.com)