Whether you have a longstanding connection or are working with someone new, it’s important to have your plan ready.

Think through what you want to achieve from the partnership, understand what your partner school wants from the relationship and set clear roles and expectations. It will probably be useful to formalise your partnership by writing it all down so everyone is clear what the objectives are and what is involved - always allowing space for developing future collaboration, of course!

So, where to start?

Learn from an expert

If you're new to international school partnerships, it'll likely be useful to have some step by step guidance to help you get going. Watch this video to hear from a teacher who is very experienced in setting up and running partnerships with schools in different countries. Find out how a partnership will increase understanding of international issues and enhance language learning and learn from Lisa the hints and tips to get your partnership up and running. Then take a look below at our guidance for establishing your partnership and setting a framework for working together. 

Our guiding principles 

A good starting point for framing your partnership are our three guiding principles.

  • Educational – a school partnership should support and enhance the teaching and learning in both schools. A good way to do this is by planning and sharing joint curriculum projects
  • Equity-based – your partnership should be two-way and reciprocal; both schools should contribute equally to the partnership and both can expect to learn together
  • Sustainable – both schools should be committed to a long-term relationship.

Set clear expectations 

We recommend agreeing expectations, setting timescales and identifying any possible stumbling blocks from the very start. Think about: 

  • how much time do you and your partner school have to dedicate to the partnership?
  • what does a typical day look like for your partner, and what is the time difference in your countries?
  • what level of internet access do staff in your partner school have?
  • are there any language barriers and how can you overcome them?

Communication is key 

Good communication is at the heart of any school partnership. 

Take time to consider the online communication and collaboration tools that would best meet you and your partner’s needs, and be aware of potential time differences and language barriers.

Plan in regular meetings between teachers and/or pupils to keep the partnership running smoothly, to support progress and to highlight any issues. Try to agree a specific time every month for a meeting – a consistent time will allow attendees to plan their schedule accordingly. 

To ensure the partnership is sustained if a key member of the project leaves, share ownership of the partnership and related resources among more staff members. If you feel priorities are slipping, arrange a catch-up with your partner to reiterate your joint objectives, share feedback and concerns, and explore how to get the most out of working together.

Connect with senior leadership 

Keep your senior leaders informed of all your future plans and any key project activities. Involvement and support from senior leadership is important to ensuring your partnerships are productive, resilient and built to last.