While every school partnership will grow at its own pace, there are some steps you can take to help get things off to the best possible start. Here are our recommendations to help you navigate the early days of your partnership.
Consider your initial introductions
In your initial exchanges you will want to include information about yourself, your role, your school and where it is located. It’s good to include your hopes for the partnership and ask about your partner school's aspirations. To cement the relationship, the two head teachers might want to exchange greetings.
Plan your communications
Good communication is at the heart of any school partnership. As you move beyond the initial exchanges, you’ll want to get to know your partner's circumstances so you can take a planned approach:
- How much time does 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 your countries?
- What level of internet access do staff have in your partner school?
- Are there any language barriers and what strategies can you employ to overcome them?
- Take time to consider the communication tools available to you and your partner. Our guide to online platforms (see the downloads section below) gives a quick overview of the main online platforms, their benefits and limitations for use within international partnerships.
Having an equity based relationship is crucial. Discussion and learning should always be two-way and reciprocal, with both schools contributing equally.
Sustaining a partnership needs to feel like a two-way street. We advise that it's a good idea to talk about your expectations around timescales therefore from the very start.
When communication fails, there are many factors that can be at play. Don't assume your partner is no longer interested; try to find a way to pick up the conversation again. For example, if you feel priorities are slipping, you could arrange a catch-up with your partner school to remind yourself of your joint objectives, share feedback and concerns, and explore how to get the most out of working together.
And remember, communication doesn't always have to be through one person. Planning in regular opportunities for discussion between teachers and/or pupils is another way of keeping momentum. This also facilitates a more sustainable and fruitful school partnership overall.