UK aid to connect British schools with classrooms around the world

Connecting Classrooms
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

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.

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