At Longdean School, we have been re-designated as an International School until 2020 (ISA), and this builds on our tenure as a Global Learning Programme Expert Centre in 2016. We built a large network of primary and secondary schools in our local area and we also ran a county-wide global learning day of CPD and a county-wide TeachMeet with global learning as its focus. We have a long tradition of international schools work and have links with many countries. We are particularly proud of our decade of work with schools in the Ashanti region of Ghana, where we have run several return visits and our work is integral to our school's curriculum and our ethos as a Cooperative Trust school. The link started in 2008 through the British Council’s Global Curriculum Project Grant programme (which was similar to the current Connecting Classrooms programme), giving us the initial contact with Bedomase Methodist Junior High School and funds for our first reciprocal visits. We were keen for as many staff and students to be involved as possible and have developed projects across the curriculum, not only in Geography and other Humanities subjects but in the Arts, Science and Maths, as well as running an extra-curricular International Schools group. Students have been involved in 3 of our 4 visits to Ghana, enabling them to participate in life-changing experiences and, importantly, lead on furthering the link once back in school by sharing their experiences with their peers in assemblies and with the International Schools group. One of the early successes of the link was the development of an ICT suite for the school, which has been sustained successfully by the community for 7 years. Not only did this benefit their students, but has been used to support adult literacy in the local community and has even provided employment opportunities.
Most recently, Longdean students were given the chance to visit the new Fast Track College, an upper school that has been established by the Bedomase community as a result of the partnership, with Longdean School and the Cooperative Trust supporting its development. They were able to discuss with their peers in Ghana the most appropriate use for money fundraised by Longdean students and feed this back to their peers in the UK. The most recent developments include a new water system for the students and the start of a three storey, 18 classroom block next to the existing school building.
Additionally, we have written articles for the SSAT journal and spoken at the national conference in December 2017 and we are currently investigating forming a cluster partnership to get schools in our locality involved in partnerships. Global learning and international schools work is time-consuming and rarely straight forward, but our staff, students and wider communities (in both countries) have gained a wealth of outstanding experiences and lifelong friendships. We can’t recommend this work enough and are always happy to support other schools who are interested in finding out more about the benefits.
Martin Macdonald and Patricia Hoque, International Schools Coordinators
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