School students in classroom

Connect your classroom to the UK

With the ever changing nature of the world as we know it, socially, economically and environmentally, it’s vital that young citizens know their place in the world. Teaching them about global issues is imperative.

Connecting Classrooms is run in partnership with the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) and it helps young people learn about global issues, giving them skills to work in a global economy. The programme has been running in Kenya since 2007. 600 Kenyan primary and secondary schools have been engaged and over 1000 teachers and head-teachers trained to encourage them develop an international dimension in their teaching. Since we launched Connecting Classrooms in June 2012, we’ve supported 326 school links between the UK and Kenya, delivered courses and online training to 652 teachers, and developed the leadership skills of another 175 head teachers across the country.

We aim to give all young people the opportunity to succeed in a globalised society. Connecting Classrooms enables students and their teachers to:

  • Understand issues of worldwide importance 
  • Gain a sense of social responsibility 
  • Develop skills to succeed in the global economy. 

Teachers are offered face to face and online professional development courses to deepen their experiences in several practise areas including School Leadership, ICT and classroom pedagogy. The programme has fostered partnerships between schools and educators to help bring in the international dimension to classroom teaching.

Access to ICT in schools and its subsequent use in learning and teaching enables international engagement, helping teachers and students access a wide range of teaching resources through our interactive online platform – British Council Schools Online.

 To support the Government of Kenya’s long term commitment to improving access and training for teachers and students in the country, we have set up 20 ICT Hubs in schools across the country, 15 of which have been set up in partnership with Microsoft.

'The Digital Hub in our school will be used for teaching and learning during the day, and by the wider community for skills training after school hours. We are excited to be the centre for ICT in education in our region.' – Clephas Mudibo, Principal, Shujaa Mekatilili Secondary School, Kilifi

Connecting Classrooms 2015 - 2018

In June 2015, The British Council and the Department of International Development (DFID) made a £34 million contribution towards supporting the development of the capacity of developing countries education systems and enhance the teaching of development education.

Research by education experts and academics explains that in order to participate in a global economy, young people need to be equipped with core skills, which supplement the traditional curriculum, subject-focussed approach of many education systems. These are also referred to as deep learning skills, 21st century skills, UNESCO transversal skills or core skills and competencies depending on the local/national context. This is to ultimately, develop young people with certain core skills and competencies which contribute to global citizenship and civic responsibility; which include:

  • Ways of living in the world: global citizenship and civil responsibility, including cultural awareness and competence
  • Ways of working: communication and collaboration
  • Ways of thinking: critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation, learning to learn and metacognition
  • Tools for working: information literacy, information and communication technology (ICT)

 Connecting Classrooms Activities  

The programme will run from June 2015 to June 2018, building on deep pedagogical framework and UNESCO transverse skills, and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders across our networks, the British Council will offer:

  • Professional development for teachers and school leaders in 42 countries including the Kenya.
  • Sustainable professional partnerships between schools in the UK and 38 countries, through which practitioners and school leaders work together to further improve the quality of teaching in their schools in the core skills area in which they have received professional development on.
  • Professional dialogue opportunities for policy makers that will support national and regional level debate, reflection and action; and seek to align the programme with country priorities.
  • Providing online access to high quality resources to support teachers in delivering improved learning outcomes for young people


Professional Development for Teachers:

The programme will offer a demanding ‘core’ training offer, aimed at supporting teachers to improve their teaching practice, integrating the core knowledge and skills into their lessons to fill critical gaps in pupil competencies.

Teachers will be able to access professional development that introduces the rationale for core skills development and supports them to develop their pedagogy in a manner that integrates with existing curriculum in the following areas:

  •  Collaboration and communication: fostering effective communication (orally and in writing); actively listening to and engaging with others in diverse and multi-lingual environments and understanding verbal and non-verbal communication; developing the ability to work in diverse international teams, including learning from and contributing to the learning of others, assuming shared responsibility, cooperating, leading, delegating and compromising to produce new and innovative ideas and solutions.
  • Citizenship: developing active, globally aware citizens who have the skills, knowledge and motivation to address issues of human and environmental sustainability and work towards a fairer world in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue, developing an understanding of what it means to be a citizen of their own country and their own values.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: promoting self-directed thinking that produces new and innovative ideas and solve problems; reflecting critically on learning experiences and processes and making effective decisions.
  • Creativity and imagination: promoting economic and social entrepreneurialism; imagining and pursuing novel ideas, judging values, developing innovation and curiosity.
  • Digital literacy: developing the skills to discover, acquire and communicate knowledge and information in a globalised economy; using technology to reinforce, extend and deepen learning through international collaboration.
  • Student leadership and personal development: recognising the importance of honesty and empathy; recognising others needs and safety; fostering perseverance, resilience and self-confidence, exploring leadership, self-regulation and responsibility, personal health and wellbeing, career and lifeskills, learning to learn and life-long learning.

As a result, more teachers will be able to use pedagogies in the classroom that:

  • Ask students to create new ideas, solutions and products
  • Use digital tools and resources to enable knowledge discovery, creation and communication
  • Give students experiences in applying their ideas and solutions with real audiences
  •  Improve inclusivity and equity


Professional Development for School Leaders:

School leaders will undertake professional development that introduces the rationale for core skills development and supports them to develop the provision in their school to include these core areas. As part of this, they will also be given the opportunity to audit their current levels of provision in relation to these core areas:

Professional Partnerships:

British Council is approaching the development of these skills by advocating a school-based professional development model based on teachers working together across subjects and year groups, and which lets teachers design the assessment and measurement for student progress based on what works best in their context.

 Research conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa identifies that effective professional development should:

  • Focus on classroom implementation, be based on teachers existing knowledge and offer opportunities for practice in different context.
  • Be long term and structured, involving several spaced interactions.
  • Encourage and create opportunities for teachers to work together, to improve and sustain their learning after intensive training has been concluded
  • Develop teacher agency and leadership
  • Offer opportunities for modelling, reflecting on teachers’ own practice, being observed and receiving high quality feedback.
  • Encourage and support teachers in obtaining resources. 

Having received professional development in the core competency areas and already implemented new practice in their school, teachers will be invited to work together with a partner school to further improve the quality of their teaching in the area(s) in which they have received professional development and which has been identified as a priority need in their context.

Grants will be issued on competitive basis to those schools that show commitment in integration of their core skill area of choice to enable them to travel and visit their partner school in the UK. Through these visits, teachers will meet face-to-face, observe teaching practice, learn from the practice observed to reflect on their own practice and develop strategies to be implemented in their school to improve learning outcomes for their students.

Professional Policy Level Dialogue:

Policy makers and senior practitioners, defined as senior educational stakeholders who have decision-making and influencing powers at national or state level within a particular country or geography, will develop an enhanced understanding of the importance of core skills for young people and of international best practice related to this. They will do this by contributing to and engaging in research and through their participation in professional dialogue events and best practice study visits with peers from other countries.

Online resources:

The programme will offer a range of online resources to support teachers to build on learnings from their continuous professional development and develop high quality partnerships.

How we're connecting classrooms

Classrooms are connected in a variety of ways, including partnerships, online collaborations, grants for teachers to visit their partner schools, professional development opportunities and the International School Award (ISA).


Is your school involved in a partnership with a school in the UK? If so, you could be eligible for funding from the Connecting Classrooms programme. Getting involved will help you develop your young people as global citizens and as a teacher, you will also benefit through sharing best practice with colleagues in other countries.

You can be part of this exciting initiative.

It’s free and simple to set up your first partnership, and we can help you incorporate global themes into your school’s curriculum and build lasting international relationships.

Grants are also available to help you set up visits with partner schools and to support projects.

If you’re interested or want to know more, check the British Council Schools Online website, or contact us.

Continuing Professional Development

We also offer workshops and online courses to help you get the most out of school partnerships.

Our online courses provide information and advice on:

  • the Connecting Classrooms programme
  • education for global citizenship
  • inter-cultural and global awareness
  • successful, lasting  partnerships
  • ICT for international collaboration
  • English for international exchange.

To register and get started on one of our courses visit the Connecting Classrooms Learning website.

You can also get involved with a face-to-face workshop, tailored specifically for teachers in Kenya and focused on promoting global citizenship. The programme is divided into introductory and advanced level and is designed to:

  • enable you to share experiences and knowledge
  • benefit you whether you have basic or extensive global citizenship and international experience
  • renew enthusiasm
  • generate new ideas you can implement at school
  • encourage and equip you to strengthen the international nature of your school’s curriculum.

We also have another course designed to help school leaders make international education work in their schools. This is a modular programme of up to 20 modules that can be tailored to local need. If you want to get involved, please contact us.

International School Award

With the International School Award (ISA), we recognise schools that have shown a strong commitment to their partner schools – or; those which continue to enrich their students’ lives, inspiring interest in international cultures and global issues.

It’s free and the three levels of accreditation (foundation; intermediate; full) are open to all schools.

Visit the ISA pages on the British Council Schools Online website to learn more and find out how to get involved.

Policy Dialogue

We are building relationships and networking, working with education policy makers, encouraging them to develop best practice in education and global citizenship and support Sudan's national priorities.

We’ll organise visits between participating countries, and inspire you to exchange and challenge ideas at international conferences. Contact us to learn more.

Partnerships Success Stories between Kenya-UK Schools

The British Council’s Connecting Classrooms partnership programme involving schools from the UK and Africa has gained international recognition for creating awareness about children’s rights and global citizenship among young learners. 

Newlands Primary School in Yateley, North-East Hampshire in the United Kingdom won the International Award at the prestigious Times Educational Supplement, or TES awards in London in June, 2015. Newlands won the award in recognition of its outstanding contributions made by its teachers and school staff to help pupils succeed both inside and outside the classroom through its partnership programme with schools in Kenya, South Africa and Sweden.

The partnership between these schools has for the past 7 years shared the same vision and commitment to children’s rights and global citizenship through critical thinking among pupils in these schools. To get there, the schools have gone through a process of refining their common goals in the programme so that they get the right impact for their learners.

Some of the common areas of interest that these schools have developed through this partnership are in creating a Global Continuous Professional Development programme (CPD) for teachers that involves partner visits to schools in Kenya, UK, and South Africa. They have also developed critical thinking skills and philosophy for children as vehicles for promoting the effective teaching and learning of global citizenship issues.

In essence, the practicalities and impact of the Global CPD programme means that teachers who engage face to face with their contemporaries in the partner schools have more lasting experiences than the mere notion of linking their schools in the programme. Basically, a teacher, after taking part in a transformational learning experience during a visit to a partner school, will speak with passion and enthusiasm about his/her work to every class of pupils that they will teach from that moment on.  Pupils, year after year, will have the benefit of the teacher’s experience and the follow-up from their visit.

The judging panel at the TES awards said: ’’ Newlands’ innovative streak and its willingness to share the fruits of the ideas that spring forth in the school partnership made it stand out in a competitive field.’’ Ann Mroz, TES editor added: “Newlands is doing a fantastic work providing students with a rich cross-cultural education, putting ‘global citizenship’ at the very heart of the school.”

The head teacher of Newlands, Carl McCarthy was overjoyed when his school won the award for best international connections category:

“To win a TES Award feels like a very special moment for the whole Newlands team. Seven partner school teachers attended, as well as the Newlands team of teachers, governors, administration and support staff. It was humbling to see so many amazing schools receiving recognition for the great work they do. It is great for our school community, fantastic for Yateley and great recognition of the approach that Hampshire County Council education authority supports in our schools.”

Beatrice Sikukuu, the head teacher of Juja Road Primary School in Kenya received the award in London on behalf of the partnership schools. Beatrice and the other teachers from Kenya and South Africa were visiting the UK when the awards took place.

Juja Road Primary School is connected to Newlands Primary school in the UK and Edelweiss Primary School in South Africa. The other schools in the partnership are Dr Aggrey Primary School and Kayole 1 Primary School in Kenya, Charles Kingsley Primary School and Anton Infant School in the UK and Nceba Primary School and Nomonde Primary School in South Africa.

Beatrice said of the TES awards:

“Learners’ works and ideas from my school and other partner schools were part of the write up that was submitted to the TES Awards panel. Teachers from the partner schools also made great contributions in terms of guiding the learners in different activities and sharing the same to all the schools. Our partnership is very strong and it is based on commitment, equity, mutual understanding, shared responsibility, openness, coordination, trust and involvement by all.”

The partnership programme has been instrumental in developing young people’s attitudes to diversity and awareness of strengths and challenges in their own and partner communities.


UK School Children’s Mosaic Birds Fly to Africa

Primary school pupils across Southwark and Lambeth in England have raised thousands of pounds to build a new classroom for a school in one of the poorest areas of the world.

Children from the Gipsy Hill and Mayflower Federations collected £8,500 as part of a partnership with Oogo Primary in Homa Bay County, Kenya. They also created 140 colourful mosaics that now adorn the school.

When teachers from the Gipsy Hill Federation first visited the school three years ago, the classrooms had no windows or doors, and the Year 3 classroom was made from mud. Children and staff were unable to work productively during extreme rain, or heat. Snakes and monkeys regularly interrupted lessons and the limited resources available could not be left on the premises overnight due to thieves.

Thanks to the partnership with the Gipsy Hill and Mayflower federations, Oogo is now a very different place. Instead of torrential rain, or nosy primates, pupils are distracted by glimmering mosaic birds, created by pupils in London, which they admire through glass windows, and the construction of a brand new classroom.

When teachers from the Gipsy Hill Federation visited Kenya in May half term they found a bustling centre for the community. Teachers are proud to work there, parents vie for the prestige of being a governor and children walk for hours to reach the school.  Each day new pupils arrive, and the school is now oversubscribed. In the last academic year Oogo produced the highest achieving girl in the county, many other high-ranking pupils and more children than ever were able to continue their education. 

Initially affiliated through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms scheme, this partnership has quite literally taken-off. Raising £3,500 in 2014, the children in London grasped the opportunity to address inequality by providing a community with a safe, dry, environment for their children to learn, and empowering the teachers to do their job. Oogo received books from the Mayflower Federation and discontinued uniforms from Wearabouts clothing shop in West Norwood. The parent group Friends of Kingswood sent over sports equipment and second hand uniform too.

Momentum grew and, in 2015, £5,000 was raised to replace the final mud structure.  As a celebration of the partnership 4,000 children teamed up with Art4Space, a Stockwell- based arts charity, to create 140 mosaic birds. Children collected trinkets, and keepsakes to include as personal gifts to their friends in Kenya.

Max Acton, from Waxwing Class, Elmwood Primary School, Lambeth, said: “This is a special mosaic for Kenya. We are trying really hard to make a difference to their education by providing better classrooms and now covering them in mosaic to make the children happy”.

Julie Norburn (Art4 Space), “From these birds’ resilience and strength, the children can take inspiration and think about the different ways children wherever they happen to live cope with life’s challenges.” Generously, FedEx reduced their transportation costs (from £9,000 to £1,000) and these birds flew to Africa, arriving safely at their destination.

While in Kenya, Julie installed the mosaics with the help of school governors Peter and Carilius. Since May, Peter has now gone on to found his own mosaic business and is taking commissions from other schools and businesses. The community around Oogo have created their own mosaics using local materials which will soon take pride of place in the Gipsy hill and Mayflower schools. Music therapist Ian Grundy has recorded two songs written and performed jointly by the children in Kenya and London as a symbol of the partnership. A short documentary has also been created.

More information

Visit the Connecting Classrooms website to find out more about the Connecting Classrooms programme and to learn how you can get involved.

See also

External links