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UK aid to connect UK schools with classrooms around the world

Film director Richard Curtis with International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Education Secretary Damian Hinds at the launch of Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning. Photo: David Owens

Film director Richard Curtis joins International Development Secretary, Education Secretary and the British Council to launch new education programme.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt joined Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds and Love Actually director Richard Curtis to launch the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme on Thursday 13 September 2018 at St Joseph’s School in Wandsworth, London.

To mark the launch of the programme – which is co-funded by the British Council and unites pupils in the UK with school children in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – the visitors joined in the ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ , which saw Year 6 students at St Joseph’s link up with pupils at the Marka Prep Girls’ School N2, in the Marka refugee camp in Jordan.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme is a win for the UK and a win for the developing world. Children and teachers in the participating countries are learning from each other and creating lasting friendships.

I have been really moved to hear the stories of children taking part in the programme learning how much they actually have in common, how alike they are. I also know from my travels, how much teachers in developing countries value the support and knowledge of British teachers.

The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme has been designed to build long-term partnerships between schools and communities in the UK and countries around the world. The previous Connecting Classrooms programme involved more than 5,000 schools working in partnership and reached more than 1 million children between 2015 and 2018. DFID and British Council’s new programme builds on elements of Connecting Classrooms and the Global Learning Programme. It will increase awareness and understanding of global issues and different cultures by reaching a further 3 million pupils for a period of three years.

It will also train 60,000 teachers and school leaders in the UK and developing countries to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills to live and work in a global economy.

The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme is part of an initiative that introduces the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, to students and teachers in the UK and around the world. The goals are designed to deliver a more sustainable future for all and include tackling hunger, providing clean water and affordable clean energy.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said:

Today was a great opportunity to see how Connecting Classrooms is making a difference in schools around the world. At St Joseph’s I saw children of different faiths and backgrounds working together and learning from each other. That kind of collaboration is a lesson for us all.

It is absolutely vital that we share the very best of our education system and learn from the very best of others. Only in doing so will we get closer to forging a global understanding of what education can achieve.

Richard Curtis, a UN advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, also added:

The Global Goals are an ambitious plan to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle the threat of climate change, and end inequality by 2030 so that future generations can live peacefully and sustainably together. It would be a wonderful thing for children to really know about them – to get them in their DNA – so they themselves can be part of the solution. This can’t happen without schools and teachers getting involved because they are so important in giving children perspective on the world they live in.

It’s great to see the UK taking a creative approach to involving our children in the Goals; these school partnerships will encourage children to develop real relationships with others around the world and give them an amazing opportunity to learn from each other and see how the Goals apply to everyone, home and abroad.

During yesterday’s lesson students worked together to share ideas and design the world they would like to live in by the year 2030 – the deadline set for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved. The lesson ended with guests and students making personal pledges of action on what they could do to achieve the Goals.

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council, said:

Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning provides our young people with an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to thrive in an increasingly global society.

The partnership between St Joseph’s School and Marka Girls’ School N2 in Jordan shows the huge impact these connections can have on pupils, teachers and the local community. We hope schools across the UK and around the world will sign up to take part.

Research has shown that ‘school linking’ can increase the quality of teaching and learning in the schools involved, improving both pupil engagement and teacher motivation.

  • The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme will offer grants to fund visits by UK and developing country teachers to the partner school. Mobile digital platforms (such as WhatsApp and Zoom) will also be used to enable classroom-to-classroom activities between teachers and pupils.
  • The scheme is jointly funded and delivered by the British Council who will contribute £17m. DFID will contribute £21m.
  • The programme is for children aged between 7-14 yrs. Schools can sign up by going to the British Council’s website and selecting the part of the programme they are interested in, or by emailing [email protected].

It will operate in the following countries.

Region Country
Sub Saharan Africa Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
South Asia Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, India
MENA Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco
East Asia Burma

What’s the difference between Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning and Connecting Classrooms?

Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning builds on key elements of DFID’s most recent development education programmes: the Global Learning Programme (2013-18) and Connecting Classrooms (2015-18).

From the Global Learning Programme it adopts a focus on global learning and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a wide range of UK schools; a tailored approach to each of the four nations of the UK in order to align with their curricula; encouraging the formation of school clusters in order to achieve economies of scale and improve standards through peer learning; providing funding for supply cover so that teachers can access training; and encouraging local community action in line with the SDGs.

From Connecting Classrooms, it retains a focus on partnerships between schools in the UK and overseas, the provision of high-quality materials through the Schools Online website, advocacy and awareness raising of key educational issues overseas, and accreditation for schools through the International Schools Award (ISA). The programme will also continue to place emphasis on strong monitoring and evaluation.

In addition, Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning contains a number of new elements:

  • funding for reciprocal visits, so that overseas teachers can now visit partner schools in the UK, and help bring their country to life for UK pupils providing training to teachers on running equitable and sustainable partnerships;
  • the creation of a virtual partnerships platform for schools that are unable to take part in face-to-face partnerships;
  • a focus on training overseas teachers to develop their pupils’ skillset for the global economy e.g. entrepreneurial skills;
  • encouraging partnered schools to make local progress on an SDG as a shared project;
  • teacher training overseas to be aligned with DFID’s 2018 education policy, with a focus on education quality and inclusion;
  • accreditation for teachers and mapping other relevant awards for schools (such as UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award) to the ISA framework so that schools are duly recognised for their work on development education issues;
  • in the UK, building on local community links and utilising local resources such as local NGOs, Development Education Centres, civil society organisations, higher education institutions, businesses, Regional Centres for Expertise, and encouraging Commonwealth Scholars, DFID staff, and returnees from the International Citizen Service and Voluntary Service Overseas programmes to visit local schools and discuss their experiences with pupils; and
  • a focus on a smaller number of priority countries, whilst adding Lesotho, given its strong links with Wales.

Published 14 September 2018

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