The "Widening Horizons" approach developed a few years ago to support the establishment of more links between UK and Jamaican schools.
The past year’s activity undertaken by the “Widening Horizons” school links project has shown clearly the great benefits from UK schools links with Jamaican schools for the schools involved, but it has also shown how difficult it can be to develop and maintain links, especially with the uncertain support of the British Council and the pressures that all schools face.
However now links with schools in Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, are on the list for funding again by the British Council, so we are happy find ways to create and support links, and find the best way of setting up and supporting the links that are forged.
Photographs taken at Dupont Primary School in Kingston, Jamaica
"Healthy Eating" was the first shared project theme linking Dupont with Spring Vale Primary School in Wolverhampton.
There are lots of ways to develop links and we are happy to discuss these with you and give you the opportunity to consider options.
- IT and worldwide web development make it easier for most schools to exchange messages electronically and programmes like ODDIZZI can be used to send e-postcards between classes.
- There may be a Commonwealth Schools Linking project as part of the DIAMOND Jubilee legacy at some time. Learning Links was initially represented on the Advisory Board for this development, but we have heard little more about this!
- We are applying for International Lottery Funding and sponsorship e.g. from the British High Commission, Jamaica National or Moneygram to support links and exchange visits from key people i.e. Jamaica’s Regional Community Relations Education Officers and Education Advisors from UK, who can then better support the set up and development of school links
- And we have identified a way that UK schools can fund the costs od additional teacher exchanges - this means that schools in the UK agree a package with Learning Links that pays for flights, accommodation needed and any other costs, as well as providing the support of creative artistes and specialist educational advisors in UK and the Caribbean. This approach has the working name “LLI Unites”
and we are also developing specialist links between Special Schools in Jamaica and Special Education provision in Birmingham.
Reactions to having teacher exchanges shows this is clearly a great way to make school links a reality, this is partly because of the motivation of teachers to travel and learn about the other country, and it provides a great staff development opportunity in terms of sharing good educational practice.
For the past 4 years Learning Links has had experience of setting up and supporting school links and managed more than 20 exchange visits of teachers and education advisors / officers from Jamaica and UK on behalf of the charity “JAMAICA 2000”, working closely with the British Council and other key organisations.
Student exchanges are also possible and Learning Links is currently involved with Birmingham / Jamaica schools sports links.
Linking with other schools offers schools in the UK many opportunities. It provides an excellent opportunity to produce a diverse and creative curriculum, positively contributing to the five outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda, as well as producing a significant amount of evidence for the Ofsted SEF for every school.