Children pointing at globe. Image credit: Frank Noon.

Children at Tollgate Primary School in London point out their international partner schools. Apply for funding for your school partnership through Connecting Classrooms. (Image credit: Frank Noon)

Children pointing at globe. Image credit: Frank Noon.

Darren Coyle, Programme Manager for Connecting Classrooms, explains how the British Council’s flagship global education programme brings exciting opportunities to schools worldwide.

Recently, I found myself waiting to meet a headteacher in the reception of a secondary school in Nottingham. On the wall was a large map of the world, with flags marking England and Brazil, a line drawn between the two of them, and lists of class names and numbers. The headteacher explained that his pupils had been set the challenge of covering the 6,000 miles between England and their partner school in Brazil.

‘How will they do that?’ I asked, intrigued.

The headteacher explained that pupils were recording the distances they travelled during their normal day-to-day activities – walking, running, swimming, cycling – and within a month they had been to Brazil and back already!

It’s a simple yet powerful example of how schools involved in international links can inspire and motivate their pupils in any number of creative ways. By giving pupils a real context within which to work and learn about the world, a partnership with an overseas school can add flavour and richness to the curriculum. If pupils are world-aware and instilled with interest and excitement to find out more about other countries and cultures, they will be better prepared to work alongside and compete with young people from around the globe in our fast-changing and truly global society.

That’s the idea behind Connecting Classrooms, an amazing programme full of opportunities for schools around the world to connect with each other and help develop their pupils as global citizens. Between now and the 9 November 2012, we are inviting schools from the UK and around the world to apply for partnership grants of up to £1,500 per participating school, allowing teachers to travel and work together on a project of mutual interest.

What astounded me during my visit to the school in Nottingham was how much the school’s link with Brazil was being used to really bring learning to life for pupils. Teachers across a range of departments – art, geography, sport, science, languages – were working together to design and deliver learning activities in the curriculum using the context of Brazil. Meaning that pupils felt a real life connection and really engaged with their learning. As one teacher put it, ‘Our school partnership has been the kick start to a huge range of exciting activities here – for teachers and pupils alike. Brazil has become part of the school. It has been a fantastic experience.’

Often teachers mention that they can’t find the time or additional resource to cover classes to attend professional development courses. Connecting Classrooms has developed online courses that teachers can take at their own pace. Getting involved in the strands of Connecting Classrooms will also offer schools the opportunity to get accredited for their international work.

Nottingham gave me a first-hand chance to see how opening young people’s minds to a wider world of different societies and cultures can create a more connected classroom. As an introduction to this global perspective, I’d recommend having a look at the ready-made resources available through our Schools World Service partnership with the BBC. Each month, we are producing short-films told through the eyes of children around the world, offering young people’s perspective on major events and topical stories designed to engage and boost understanding of global issues. The accompanying videos from places like Brazil, India, Libya and other countries are proving very powerful.

Connecting Classrooms is co-funded by the British Council and the Department for International Development (DFID). It offers school partnership, professional development courses, school accreditation and the chance to share best practice with international counterparts.

If you are a UK school that has an overseas partner (and vice versa), you can apply for funding.

Visit the Schools Online website, if you are interested in getting your class started on international projects.


Total 3 Comments Add your comment


Posted on December 12th, 2012 Report abuse

I have just read information about Connecting Classrooms, about how the British Council’s flagship global education programme brings exciting opportunities to schools worldwide.
However the school iam working to has not been linked to this beautful educational network. How can i help my public school to join this network. please help.
Bsc (ed) chemistry&biology
Department of biology&chemistry
Nanenane secondary school,morogoro-Tanzania


Posted on December 13th, 2012 Report abuse

Hello John

Thank you for your interest in Connecting Classrooms. You can find out more information about the programme on the Connecting Classrooms website and also register on the website too.

Best wishes
British Council

Name*Daniel Kiggundu Mukasa

Posted on October 30th, 2013 Report abuse

Crane school Namanve (kam.pala Uganda). We are a primary school (day and boarding). We are looking for school partnership anywhere in the world mainly working with the British Council