About International School Partnerships
Practical Resources on Schools Partnerships:
All Our Children has been developed around international school partnerships, primarily between William Morris Sixth Form, London, The Warriner School, Bloxham and Kigezi High School, Kabale, Uganda. Below is some practical information about schools partnerships, and also a summary of research into schools partnerships by David Mills.
DFID has developed the useful Global Schools Partnership resource with a whole set of resources and information about schools partnerships, including some new online courses for those wanting to think further about the cultural and political issues that partnerships bring up. The British Council manage the Global Gateway, a ‘matchmaking site’ for those schools (especially in the Global South) seeking international partnerships, along with many other resources on bringing an international dimension to education. The British Council is developing a number of online professional development resources for teachers involved in school partnerships, and are also looking to develop mentoring links and even accreditation. The British Council are seeking to develop accredited online training courses for teachers to prepare them for their visits, and to develop mentoring programmes for the teachers.
The Development Education Association has championed global education in schools in the UK and has developed Global Dimension – a range of resources for teaching about global issues. It has also issued a recent report entitled ‘Global learning in schools: a review of what works’ .
There are also a range of independent initiatives promoting linkages, such as Link for Community Development and regional LEA activities, such as the work of the Oxfordshire International Education Bureau. Most of the UK charities also have development education resources, including Oxfam’s Global Citizenship work and Christian Aid.
Research on Schools Partnerships
Despite the huge growth in school partnerships, there is still relatively little social research exploring the impact of these partnerships on the partner schools themselves or on students’ understandings of globalisation and difference. Given the seemingly dramatic education, social and economic disparities between ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ partners, t linkages face intriguing questions of how the two sides conceptualise and negotiate such differences. The challenge for the partner schools is to avoid the moralization and reification of privilege and indebtedness, and to use the learning opportunities to open up broader debates about globalisation, education and social change.
Most of the published research on schools partnership and linkages tends to focus on the political and practical aspects of partnerships, often with an advocacy flavour. Contributions to the edited volume Development Education: Debates and Dialogues (Bourn 2008) offers an introduction to these debates, as does the Irish journal Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review and the Development Education journal. A number of Geography educators have also begun working in this field (eg Pickering 2008), along with those involved in the Development Education Association (DEA).
With a slightly more critical edge, the journal Critical Literacies has published work, by V. Andreotti and others on a ‘postcolonial’ approach to educational exchanges and linkages. This work begins to theorise partnerships, and explores whether parternships are simply an extension of colonial social relations, or help people develop new understandings of difference. In this vein, Alison Leonard’s work (eg Leonard 2005, Bourn and Leonard 2009), has explored issues of stereotyping and power, reflecting on her own experiences as a geography teacher. Several doctoral students at the Institute of Education, studying with Doug Bourn, are currently looking at school partnerships in East Africa.
The most directly relevant recent research on school partnerships is Global Partnerships for Mutual Learning , an ESRC project directed by the Geographer Fran Martin at the University of Exeter (see also Martin 2007). Using participatory methods, she is investigating what teachers (from the UK, Gambia and South India) learn from these study exchanges, and how they make use of what has been learnt back in their own educational settings. The research team is sensitive to the risks that these partnerships are seen as ‘neo-colonial’ impositions and are exploring ways of thinking through what might be called an ‘ethical engagement with the other’ that recognizes difference. The emphasis is very much on the research itself being ethical and balanced. Their research website includes a range of publications and presentations about the work. Whilst this will make an important contribution, it tends to focus on the perceptions and experiences of the teachers, rather than on the larger contexts and economic inequalities that structure partnerships and the social issues that emerge through such encounters. The experience of those involved in partnerships through All our Children is that debates around gender, sexuality and corporal punishment are an omnipresent part of the encounter.
Andreotti, V. (2008). ‘Development vs poverty: notions of cultural supremacy in development education policy’ Development Education: Debates and Dialogues. D. Bourn. London, Institute of Education.
Bourn, D., Ed. (2008). Development Education: Debates and Dialogues. London, Institute of Education.
Bourn, D and Leonard, A. (2009) ‘Living in the Wider World’, in Mitchell, D. (ed) Living Geography. London, Chris Kington
Edge, K. (2008) North South school partnerships [electronic resource] : learning from schools in the UK, Africa and Asia : findings from Year 1. London, Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education.
Leonard, A (2005) Lessons from UK Secondary Schools: school linking and teaching and learning in Global Citizenship and Geography’, The Development Education Journal vol.11.2, Stoke-On-Trent, Trentham Books/DEA
Leonard, A. (2008) ‘Global School Relationships: School Linking and Modern Challenges in Bourn, D.(ed)‘Development education : debates and dialogue. London, Institute of Education.
Martin, F (2007) ‘School Linking as a Controversial Issue’ in Claire & Holden (eds) The challenge of teaching controversial issues Trentham Books .
Pickering. S (2008):“What do children really learn? A discussion to investigate the effect that School partnerships have on children’s understanding, sense of values and perceptions of a distant place”. GeogEd Volume 2, Issue 1 Article 3 www.geography.org.uk/geoged