Practical Issues

Video with Standard Audio:

Julia Gong, Chinese educator, discusses building successful sister school partnerships.

Video with Audio Description:

Julia Gong, Chinese educator, discusses building successful sister school partnerships.

Getting Started

What do you want from the partnership?

Knowing what you want from a sister school partnership is very important. Your central requirements should be clear and upfront.

You could start by imagining in concrete terms how you would like the partnership to be operating one or two years after it has begun. What will be happening? How will it be helping with your teaching? Write it down.

There is a series of questions you can download here to help guide your thinking.

The result of this process will only be a preliminary document. At this point, or after negotiations have begun, it will be helpful to add some practical detail and ideas about evaluation to your broad aspirations. This could look something like this, and should pin down your thinking more tightly.

Expect things to change over time. You can read about the sorts of changes that might occur here

How sister school partnerships develop

While all partnerships are unique, there are some broad patterns worth considering.

Thinking about it

This is when you begin considering the possibility of establishing a partnership. How hard will it be? Who can help? What will you get out of it? Will the value of setting one up be equivalent to, or greater than, the effort you might invest? You will be collecting information and ideas and clarifying what you want to get out of it, how you might set things up to achieve the results you want and what sort of partner might be best. Some ideas might have been suggested. You will be talking to other members of staff including members of your school’s executive/administration about the project. It will be useful to get some direct help.

Getting started

You will be looking for a school through some of the avenues suggested. You will have some clear propositions to put to possible partners and will have begun making initial contact. It is likely that the Chinese schools you are contacting will be pleased to develop an international connection. It will be important to understand what their expectations might be.

Establishment

It is generally agreed that a face-to-face meeting is important at this stage, whether in Australia or China, with the intention of signing some form of agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU). This can be a very exciting moment, especially if it is the first time the visitor/s have had an experience of the other culture, but it is quite probable that the details of the partnership will not be spelt out. It is a good idea to have a clear idea about the specifics of working together and to explore these in an open and direct fashion.

Growing into the partnership

This is the point at which partnerships become established or, sometimes, fail. Regular communication is important, along with beginning activities that involve students. Ideally, personal professional relationships begin to evolve. The most common reasons for failure during this period include lack of effective communication (‘they never return my emails’) or emergent differences in what is expected from the partnership. Logistical difficulties, like time differences and significant differences the school year (holidays, exam times etc.) may emerge and will need to be managed.

Increasing maturity

Both schools are involved in carrying out projects which meet expectations and are seen as mutually beneficial. Communication and planning have become routine. The partnership has an established place in the life of the school (and in the thinking of the administration). Activities will have been tested against experience and successful ways to do things will have emerged. Reciprocal visiting may occur from time to time.

Expansion into other areas of the school and school community

Key people in the partnership will be starting to think about other ways in which the partnership can benefit the broader school community. This might be into other subject areas and parts of the school life or other schools. There are examples in these materials where the influence of a sister school partnership has spread into the larger community. It is worth noting that partnerships of this sort can operate to significantly strengthen language programs and their broader acceptance among students, parents and other members of the community.

Just like any partnerships, sister school partnerships are more likely to last if they are well-tended and nurtured.

Here’s another idea about how the activity in a partnership might develop.

Remember that your sister school will have its own wishes and requirements which need to be considered and accommodated where possible. It’s a partnership.

What type of school are you looking for?

Here are some factors that may help refine your thinking about the type of partner school you are seeking.

Age and stage of students

One reason why partnerships fail is the matching of schools which cater for students of differing ages and stages of schooling, especially across the primary and secondary years. This may be obvious, but students will relate much better with similar-aged peers.

Location

Sister school partnership has a long history in China, especially among well established, higher status schools in urban communities. These schools may have several partners in various parts of the world. Some people believe that it is better to seek a partner further out of the mainstream because it is more likely that a higher level of attention will be given to your partnership. Regional and rural localities will be less ‘internationalised’. It may be that this matters more to your school than, for example, the existence of a high speed internet connection.

Gender

Chinese schools are almost universally co-educational. However cases of single sex schools partnering successfully with co-educational schools are not uncommon. This should not necessarily be assumed to be an impediment to a successful partnership.

Affiliation

The vast majority of Chinese schools are government schools. These schools may not wish, or be prohibited from, partnerships with religion-affiliated schools. However since a law change in 2002 there has been some development of non government private schools. These tend to be found in urban areas in particular provinces and rarely in rural areas.

Access to ICT resources

It will always be important that there is a capacity to communicate with your partner via ICTs. It may be very important for your plans that, for example, your sister school has the capacity to engage in videoconferencing or that it has a readily and widely accessible high-speed internet connection. This may be an issue you wish to investigate and factor into your plans.

Size

Chinese schools tend to be larger than Australian schools. They can have 5000 or more students. More than one-third of Australia’s schools have fewer than 100 students, and for many reasons small schools can have real difficulty establishing an effective partnership with a very much bigger one. There are successful cases, however, where several small schools have cooperated to form an effective partnership with a large school.

Additional considerations

‘How to Forge Partnerships with Schools in China’, an article on the US-based Asia Society’s website, makes several useful points.

Dr. Juifei Wang suggests that: ‘All Chinese schools want to partner … but, the decision is not the school’s; it is the local government’s. Education is government business in China and it has been that way for thousands of years.’

The article goes on to suggest that, ‘Once the (local) government agrees to a partnership, the Chinese school will enthusiastically deploy its resources to promote the exchange.’

In the same article, Dan Gregg, who has helped to organise more than 100 partnerships between schools in Shandong Province and schools in Connecticut (US) stresses ‘one crucial asset: a trusted friend. In China, personal connections, or guanxi, are paramount in business and in education.’ Gregg confesses that he himself did not absorb the importance of relationships, until a Chinese friend commented, “I don’t think you get this place. You think it runs on institutions, but it runs on people.” Gregg advises educational leaders to find others who are already ‘wired in’ and who can mentor them in China, and also to be ‘patient and committed to cultivating the relationships over the years.’

This is advice well worth taking into account.

How do you find a sister school?

Your own search

Schools can and often do find their own partners through travel experiences, study tours or personal contacts.

Often the basis for these contacts is via an organised trip, which can offer a wide range of experiences and provide an induction to the country, its society and its culture. Contacts made through trips like this can allow you to make initial contacts, which you are free to drop or pursue. They also provide some idea of the context of the sister school which, even though it might be modified over time, will be helpful in the early stages of a relationship.

A search on the internet may be productive. For example, this appeared on the Australian Trade Commission’s website.

CHINA— Australian schools invited to partner with China
[XX], a city in [YY] Province China, is looking for suitable Australian schools that are keen to partner with a group of schools in the city to increase international collaboration and exchanges at school level.

One of the things that you are likely to encounter when looking for possible sister school leads on the internet is the very large number of advertisements for fee-paying students from China and/or access to the service of China-based agents or brokers for this purpose. This is not what you’re looking for.

Education agencies

Several Departments of Education also provide assistance to schools in their jurisdiction looking for partners.

In the ACT requests received by the Department from China for partner schools are circulated to ACTDET schools.
In New South Wales the Department of Education and Communities’ International Directorate may be able to assist.
In Queensland the International Services Unit of the Department may be able to assist with access to partner schools.
In South Australia the Department’s International Education Services will assist with access to partner schools.
In Tasmania Government Education and Training International Tasmania tries to create opportunities for school partnerships of various types and will assist with access to partner schools.
Victorian schools should access the Department’s website here. Relevant policy will be found along with a link to guidelines and an ‘expression of interest’ form which can be submitted to the International Education Division.

All agencies advise that it is important to check any possible legal and other requirements, especially to do with the preparation and signing of a memorandum of understanding, prior to the development of the partnership.

Asia Education Foundation (AEF)

AEF runs a school partnership program called Australia-Asia BRIDGE School Partnerships Project which connects Australian schools with schools in Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and China. There are now 36 of these directed to:

  • building language skills and intercultural understanding
  • shared professional learning on the use of ICT to support school partnership collaboration, and
  • developing a plan for successful school partnerships.

Regional/municipal organisations

Some schools have established partnerships with schools in China as part of larger regional efforts combined with municipal or other organisations. These have been aided by the existence of sister city or region partnerships through which contacts have already been established. To help your investigations a partial list of these can be found here. To see an example of how a sister school relationship has developed from a civic relationship, view 'The impact of sister school partnerships on language learning and engagement with China at Woodvale SC' video below.

How can you prepare at your school?

This video from Alkira Secondary College provides a good example of the many ways in which a school as a whole can prepare for a sister school partnership to support language learning.

Video with Standard Audio:

Chinese language learning at Alkira SC

Video with Audio Description:

Chinese language learning at Alkira SC

Maintaining the partnership

The essential factors in maintaining partnerships have been mentioned in the 'How do you make them work?' section of this guide. More ideas about ensuring sustainability can be found here.

SUSTAINING THE PARTNERSHIP

This is a list of ideas about sustaining partnerships which came from a symposium on sister schools conducted by the International Division of the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in 2012.

Spread interest and involvement as widely as possible.

A number of presenters discussed the importance of spreading interest and involvement as widely as possible both within the school and across their communities. Schools talked, for example, about the ways the interest students ‘left behind’ by trips could be maintained. Keeping good video records of what had happened and making provision for sharing these on return was one idea. Homestays developed a natural cohort of community interest and experience which provided a solid base for a relationship.

Develop a routine.

No one mentioned this specifically, perhaps because it had become routine. But it was obvious that many of the relationships which have prospered had a settled and consistent pattern. For example, Northcote HS talked about its ‘successful iterative approach’ to teacher exchange which generated its own sustainability as indicated by teachers’ preparedness to volunteer for placement in China and to offer their own time and funds to participate in the program. Students from Gladstone Park SC visit their Italian sister school in even years; Italian students come to Australia in odd years. The program they pursue has been in place, with tweakings, for a decade because it works.

Institute succession planning for key personnel.

One of the main reasons sister school relationships fail is because their champions change schools and move on.

Turnover of personnel should be considered a fact of life rather than a major impediment. Staff from Essendon Keilor College offered thinking on this important topic. Their team leader is accompanied by a second person whenever there is a visit to allow that person to develop relationships at the sister school. Their advice: ‘You can’t plan for the loss of a champion at the sister school (through succession planning). But you could both agree at the outset to manage the sister school program with a team of people at each end.’

Seek other sources of funding.

Funding is an important component of maintaining a sister school relationship (and might be considered in school budgetary processes). Funding rarely goes away as an issue, but several schools were able to describe alternative avenues of funding. Community and service organisations, philanthropic organisations and one bank were mentioned. The willingness to contribute was generated by the high level of support in the community for the value of sister school arrangements.

Planning tools for maintaining the partnership can be found here.

One of the best ways of understanding how partnerships can be maintained and valued is to hear how this has happened elsewhere. Here are four stories of successful partnerships.

Video with Standard Audio:

The benefits of sister school partnerships for students and teachers.

Video with Audio Description:

The benefits of sister school partnerships for students and teachers.

Video with Standard Audio:

The opportunities that sister school partnerships provide to connect students between Australia and China.

Video with Audio Description:

The opportunities that sister school partnerships provide to connect students between Australia and China.

Video with Standard Audio:

The impact of sister school partnerships on language learning and engagement with China at Woodvale SC.

Video with Audio Description:

The impact of sister school partnerships on language learning and engagement with China at Woodvale SC.

Video with Standard Audio:

How sister school partnerships support language learning at Neerim District SC

Video with Audio Description:

How sister school partnerships support language learning at Neerim District SC

Three common themes emerge, all related to contact: the importance of personal relationships, of staying in touch and of visiting from time to time.

Building personal relationships

The quality and longevity of sister school partnerships depend to a high degree on personal relationships.

Friends make arrangements more willingly, and therefore more easily, than people who don’t know one another. Sister school partnerships don’t just build personal relationships between members of staff; they depend on them.

In this video some Australian teachers talk about the excitement of meeting their Chinese partners again after not having seen them for a year.

Video with Standard Audio:

How relationships are built through school visits.

Video with Audio Description:

How relationships are built through school visits.

The same is true, of course, for students.

The strongest impact of a partnership may come from face-to-face experiences, but it is quite possible to build effective relationships through other forms of communication.

Staying in touch

Regular contact keeps partnerships alive.

Many schools use conventional post for exchanging letters and other material with their partners. This may be in response to the difficulty of internet connection or other logistical difficulties, but it is often suggested that students just enjoy receiving hard copy material from their friends overseas.

However, ICTs have provided wonderful new media for keeping partnerships alive and productive.

It is important to talk with your partner in China to make sure the technology you are using is something that they have access to. As technology is evolving very quickly and accessibility is constantly changing, it is also very valuable to talk to colleagues in Australia about how they connect effectively with partners in China.

Video with Standard Audio:

Rick Connors, teacher and Julia Gong, Chinese educator discuss the role of technology in supporting sister school partnerships.

Video with Audio Description:

Rick Connors, teacher and Julia Gong, Chinese educator discuss the role of technology in supporting sister school partnerships.

Email enables students (and their teachers) to engage in asynchronous but regular dialogue. Email is a more popular medium of communication in Australia than it is in China. You might find you have more success staying in touch if you use technologies that are more easily accessible on smartphones, such as SMS.

SMS is a familiar and accessible medium which allows students to interact in real time. There are hundreds of Web 2.0 tools which have different communicative and sharing functions and which you may find of value. A web search will provide results like this one. In addition, WeChat is a text and voice-messaging tool that at the time of writing is a very popular means of communication in China. Another one is Weibo, a microblogging tool similar to Twitter.

Wikis and other content management systems provide a platform for collaborative work. Privacy issues can be managed effectively and a detailed record of exchanges is kept as a matter of course.

Blogs are used in Chinese schools and can be a useful way to get your students communicating with one another. Before committing to a particular blogging platform, make sure it will be accessible for your Chinese partner school, as blogging sites that are popular in Australia – such as Wordpress and Blogger – might be blocked in China.

A good solution is to choose one of the many available Chinese blog platforms. One example is YouKu – a Chinese equivalent of YouTube that has proven very successful as a means for Chinese and Australian students to share video clips with one another. It is best to do an online search for the most suitable blog option for you at the time you want to get your students blogging.

Videoconferencing enables students to see and interact with one another. (Skype is a common medium in Australia. Your Chinese partners are more likely to be familiar with QQ) Videoconferencing (sometimes called ‘live video streaming’) is important in this context because of its immediacy and the capacity it provides for listening and speaking experiences. In this video participants reflect on their experiences.

Video with Standard Audio:

The value of videoconferencing with sister school partners to support language learning.

Video with Audio Description:

The value of videoconferencing with sister school partners to support language learning.

There also some handy hints which will help make your videoconferences more effective and successful.

Video with Standard Audio:

Tips for effective video conferencing

Video with Audio Description:

Tips for effective video conferencing

Reciprocal visiting

At least some face-to-face visiting seems to be an essential part of building an effective sister school partnership. For example, experience suggests that senior school administrators need to meet face-to-face before a partnership can be authentically formalised.

While not essential, students’ experience of visits and of hosting visitors can have a significant impact on their interest in, and experience of, language learning.

Careful thought and planning are required to get the best possible outcomes from an international visit or study tour, especially when they are associated with language learning.

Learning from Short-term Sojourns in China, a research report published by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Chinese Teacher Training Centre suggest such visits should provide:

  • challenging or otherwise personally significant experiences and consistent opportunities to reflect on them
  • opportunities for learners to interact with local people in varied contexts that emphasise purposeful communication and to develop friendships with peers
  • specific language and culture learning based on an awareness of learner needs, and
  • support to help learners to understand their own intercultural development and to meet its demands during the lived experience of the sojourn.

The study also notes that the most effective visiting programs are founded on successful relationships which have evolved into stable intercultural partnerships between institutions and people.

However, as intercultural relationships, these partnerships are vulnerable to the same misunderstandings and tensions as individual relationships. Commentators note the need for:

  • a strong sense of mission
  • a genuine desire on the part of the entire school leadership on both sides to establish and develop a successful and sustained relationship with the sister school on a scale/of a nature that both can manage
  • enough staff, possibly drawn from a range of faculties, to participate in various roles as host as well as visitor, so as to provide a sturdy and stable base, and
  • a number of people to share the workload.

Here are two useful resources to make sure you are successful in:

conducting visits to your sister school
hosting a delegation from your sister school

Hosting a delegation from your sister school

Introduction

For a school partnership to flourish and grow it is important that the Australian school reciprocates visits from its Chinese partner school in a welcoming and culturally-sensitive way. It is also important to understand the partner school’s goals for engagement and structure visit programs to fulfil them. This resource will assist Australian schools in preparing for a successful partner school visit by providing information and examples of:

  • pre-visit communications
  • cultural notes about the guest country including their potential expectations of how they should be hosted and advice about gifts
  • program arrangements and formal events
  • Program considerations: the image of Australia (and the school) that will be communicated to guests during the visit
  • guidelines for host parents and host students
  • guidelines for staff about their interactions with visitors from China
  • checklists to ensure our hosting program is well supported logistically
  • post visit evaluation.

Pre-visit communications

Establishing lines of communication

In China, hierarchy in organisations is generally a more important consideration than in many Australian businesses. It is important to identify who will be communicating with whom very early so that plans can be made efficiently. Generally, a Chinese principal would expect to deal with the principal of the Australian partner school, and subordinates would be expected to deal with roughly equivalent subordinates.

As many of the visit arrangements will be discussed by email, this task will generally be delegated to a member of staff in the Chinese school who has good English skills, possibly one of the English teachers on staff. In the Australian school, someone with Mandarin might be suitable, as long as that person is well supported in the required duties as a visit organiser.

It is important to identify the key liaison person in the host school and ensure that information is communicated clearly to the partner school. The most efficient way to establish the email link between the visit organisers from each school is for the principal of the Australian school to write to the principal of the Chinese school indicating who should be contacted about arrangements (include an email address) and inviting the Chinese principal to provide the name and email link for his/her delegate for visit planning purposes. The pre-visit communications checklist provided at the end of this document may be a useful resource when planning a visit.

Tips:

  • Once the link is organised it is a good idea to email and introduce yourself to this person. Remember, developing a good working relationship with that person will assist with both good communication and the smooth running of the visit.
  • While your email contact may write in English, do not assume the English language skills of a native speaker. Keep your communications succinct and in simple English to avoid misunderstanding.

The importance of developing strong personal relationships with counterparts at your sister school cannot be underestimated.

Dates

Arriving at a clear and mutually agreed understanding of the parameters of the visit is an essential starting point for planning. Ideally, visit dates will be set well ahead – as much as a year in advance. As both school calendars need to be considered, some understanding of term dates and dates of key school events will influence negotiations about dates for visits.

A visit that coincides with an important school event will provide the opportunity to showcase aspects of the host school's activities, but consideration must be given as to whether the school has sufficient human resources to look after guests and prepare for the event.

Who will be visiting

While the tour members may not be finalised for a little while, the names and particulars of all members of the visiting group will have to be identified for the purpose of booking tickets and arranging visas. Having an idea of the age and English language proficiency of each student member will assist in matching host families and providing for language support needs for the visit. Work towards getting a clear understanding of the names, ages and gender of each of your visitors from China and, importantly, establish the family names as well as preferred first names. Some people in China will have already identified their preferred English name. For visiting staff members, identify each person’s position name and try to establish the most senior person in the group, as well as any English speakers.

Letter of invitation

In order to arrange visas for the visit, a letter of invitation from your school's principal may be needed. Ensure in your communications that you have all the required details included by perhaps sending a draft by email before committing to letterhead. Should this letter need to be sent by regular post, as opposed to pdf format by email, it is recommended that the envelope be addressed in both English and Chinese characters. Do not assume Chinese postal workers are any more literate in English than Australian postal workers are in Mandarin.

Determine any special experiences requested

Teachers in your Chinese partner school will have their own reasons for engaging with your school. These will probably be identified in your partnership agreement. To make the visit most valuable to them, it is important to understand the special interests of visiting staff, in particular, who will be accompanying their students. Arranging your program to address these interests is a way of honouring your guests, and making the visit more rewarding for them.

Chinese culture – general notes

Hosting expectations

If you have visited your partner school, the way you were hosted by them will be a reflection of what they see as ‘good hosting’. It is important to understand that while Australians might enjoy some free time in the evenings, many Chinese people believe that a host must be extremely attentive to guests at all times. Do not be surprised if, when you visit your partner school, you are accompanied by a member of staff at most times during every day and every evening (at least for dinner) of your visit.

These very different expectations of what it means to be a good host are important to recognise. To avoid embarrassment, or the risk of your Chinese friends perceiving that they are not very important to you, it is important to reciprocate this hospitality to your full capability when staff from your Chinese partner school visit you.

If you have not visited your Chinese partner school, and therefore probably do not understand their expectations, it is worth reading some books or articles about ‘hosting Chinese delegations’. The section on useful resources at the end of this document provides some recommendations.

Gifts

A very important way of creating and building guanxi in China is through gifts, and it is customary to exchange gifts in a formal meeting early on in a visit. As red is an import colour for Chinese people, gifts wrapped in red paper, or enclosed in a red gift bag are appreciated. A gift for your partner school should be presented with both hands, by a senior staff member of your school to the most senior member of the visiting group. It is wise to keep track of gifts exchanged over time, to avoid duplication.

It is customary to give individual gifts to all members of the delegation. These may include school brochures and badges, small personal items and souvenirs of Australia. A gift bag is an easy way to package a small collection of items. Senior members of the group should be given something of greater value.

Suggested gifts include:

  • any gift that can have a message engraved on it is appropriate
  • gifts from Australia, or the local region (beware of made in China souvenirs)
  • small items such as key chains, scarves, or calendars with a school logo
  • desk accessories, framed art, particularly if it is by students or local artists, and
  • books, CDs even textbooks are of interest to teachers.

Things to avoid with gift giving:

  • Be sure not to give items in multiples of four. Four is a very unlucky number for some Chinese people. Many Chinese buildings do not have a fourth floor – check the floor numbers in an elevator the next time you are in China.
  • Any gift which carries an association of death or funerals such as clocks, white or black objects
  • Scissors or sharp objects are best avoided as they can symbolize severing relations
  • Always wrap gifts, or use a gift bag, but do not use white or black paper; red and gold are the best colours.

Coping with the language barrier

You may have members of staff at your school who speak Mandarin, or another Chinese dialect, who you can call upon to assist with conversations if needed. If you do not have a suitable staff member, consider your parent population, as often a Chinese parent may be greatly honoured and very pleased to help your school in such a situation. It is important you plan for and identify suitable people upon whom you can call for language assistance, because if you cannot communicate well with your guests, it will be very difficult to manage the visit. The more people that you can call upon the better, as it will ease the load, particularly should you feel you will need someone to accompany the visitors as often as possible.

Your visitors will be pleased and honoured if you can at least attempt a few sentences of Mandarin when greeting them. If there is time, do make the effort to learn a few basic sentences. You will be thrilled with the smiles from your guests, and they will truly appreciate your gesture.

Program considerations and development

Key messages and communicating them

The image of Australia

Your choice of excursion activities outside of the school, together with cultural activities you provide to your guests will shape their view of our country. Consider your school, staff and students as frontline diplomats. Try to provide a balance of activities that gives a multi-faceted view of Australia and Australian culture. Of course, logistics and expense will be considerations, but information about Australian culture may be transmitted in many ways and as you develop the program, it is a good idea to consider how it will be perceived through the eyes of a visitor.

The image of your school

The partnership agreement will express the reasons for the partnership and it is important to consider what your partner school is wanting out of the partnership. Chinese teachers may well be looking for language immersion, but they may also be interested in different forms of pedagogy, and active learning strategies. When formulating the program of internal school activities that you will provide, try to address your Chinese visitors’ learning requirements, but also consider what image of your school you wish to communicate. A program of class visits that shows varied student activities, as well as meeting with staff and students to discuss other aspects of the school, would be useful for your partner school to experience.

Addressing your school’s objectives for the partnership

You have entered the partnership with objectives in mind so also give this thought when developing the agenda for the visit. A meeting with key staff well in advance may help to highlight important opportunities for interaction that they would like to see included in the program.

Program planning from start to finish of visit

The visit program should start with the airport pickup and meeting and greeting your delegation, and conclude with the final farewells. It is useful to develop the program in consultation with the partner school, so that they have an opportunity to make suggestions of what they would like to see included.

Opportunities for formal welcomes and farewells are important as the Chinese place great importance on such formalities. Think about developing a roster of accompanying staff both during the school day and also for evening activities. Your guests will need lunches and morning teas and providing a home base for them somewhere in the school is an important consideration. Providing some free time will also be appreciated as your guests will probably appreciate some rest time and opportunities for casual discussion and reflection among their group.

It is a good idea to draft the program in general terms and send it to the tour co-ordinator at your partner school, asking for suggestions and feedback. Areas to explore include:

  • opportunities for formal welcomes and farewells
  • the balance between sight-seeing excursions and school-based activities
  • the types of classes visiting staff and students would be interested to see
  • events and classes occurring at your school during the visit period that you would like to showcase to your partner school
  • evening activities and meals – you may consider a roster of staff to accompany visiting staff to dinner on various nights.

Again, the reasons for the partnership should inform the development of the program.

It is important that you develop a program that suits your budget as well. The logistics checklist and budget below may be a useful resource for visit planning.

Evaluation

It is important to take some time soon after the visit to reflect on each aspect of the program, what worked well and how it could be improved. A meeting of key staff involved with the visit will achieve such an evaluation efficiently, and it is important that the information is stored in a place where it can be accessed by future staff.

Pre-visit Communications Checklist
Logistics Checklist and budget