Visiting your partner
Face-to-face contact with your partner school goes a long way to building trust and understanding. Plan it carefully and a visit can be a hugely rewarding experience.
As soon as you know that a visit is on the cards, draw up a draft programme in collaboration with your link school. This isn’t a rigid itinerary, but a suggestion of the sorts of things you’d both like to cover during the visit. Don’t forget to ask about local cultural differences/protocols/expectations, so you are aware of these in advance.
When you arrive, it’s possible that your plans will need to change. Stay flexible, but try not to neglect your own professional development; think about the aspects of your partner school that particularly interest you and let your guests know that you’re keen to find out more.
During the visit
Face-to-face contact builds trust, gives each partner a better sense of understanding and commitment, and it also provides an opportunity for visiting teachers to gather information about their partner school. Why not consider some of the following activities during your visit?
If you are in a cluster, consider how much time you need to spend in your partner school, and how much as the whole cluster.
If you are travelling independently (without the support of your local authority or a central agency) you should consider your personal safety very carefully.
Get proof that the school you are visiting is bona fide and that the head teacher knows you’re coming. Before you set off make sure that there has been an exchange of letters between schools – sent directly to your schools’ postal addresses.
Examine the identity of those who have contacted you. Remember an email alone, no matter how welcoming, cannot guarantee your safety. (We have verified that the schools registered on this website are recognised by the education authorities in their own countries. However, individual email addresses cannot be checked in this way.)
If you are being collected, phone the school directly and check that the school is aware of your visit. They should be able to reassure you that will be collected, as planned. If possible, try to get a photo of the person you will be meeting. Always make sure that you have local contact telephone numbers in case things don’t go precisely to plan.
Tips for a successful visit
Many of the schemes run by the British Council and its partners start with a school visit. Find out more in the programmes and funding section of this website.
"One of the main outcomes of my visit is the total commitment of the school as a whole to the link. The interest generated and the support of the staff and pupils has been tremendous, and the school has now agreed to hold an annual 'Lesotho Day'."
Secondary school teacher, Lancashire.