Cluster Partnerships

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Remember that a ‘cluster’ in this instance is a ‘cluster of interest’. It could include schools from other places in your local authority, or from completely different local authorities. It could even include schools from other parts of the UK; all collaborating together on projects with partner schools from a choice of over 30 countries.

There are several different options when it comes to forming a cluster and these are outlined below. Remember, that regardless of which option you choose, you should always have a minimum of four schools; at least one of which must be from a participating overseas country.

What support is available?

1. Before you begin…

Cluster groups can include a mix of early years, primary, secondary and ASN schools. There’s no limit to the number of schools taking part. However, as a minimum, there should be at least four schools involved including schools from participating countries outside the UK.

To get the most out of a cluster, it’s good to have a mix of the following types of schools:

Lead School

  • Must be in the UK.
  • Applies and manages any grant funding you apply for.
  • Has experience of working with international partner schools and leading Learning for Sustainability-related activities.
  • Has a role in coordinating the activities within the cluster: with at least one individual in the school taking on the role of ‘Cluster Co-ordinator‘. Find out more about this below in the ‘Start your Journey’ section.

Partner School

  • Can be UK-based or overseas.
  • Ideally, has some previous experience of Learning for Sustainability and/or international partnership working.

Network School

  • Must be UK-based.
  • Possibly new to international partnership work and Learning for Sustainability.
  • Keen to learn from lead and partner schools.

2. Decide what kind of cluster you want to build

Build your Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning cluster in a way that suits you. Choose from the options below:

Option 1: Cluster partnership – with reciprocal visits

We want to collaborate as a group of UK schools. We all want our own individual partner school overseas – and for us all to visit our overseas partners once circumstances permit.

You’ll need at least four partner schools; comprising an equivalent number of schools from the UK and from your chosen participating country. One of the UK partner schools will act as ‘lead’ school and someone in that school will be the Cluster Co-ordinator. Get in touch with us if you need any help to find overseas or local partners. 

Why not bring in some ‘network’ schools too? They wouldn’t be eligible for visit funding or have their own assigned partner school overseas, so it’s a great way for schools who are just beginning their Learning for Sustainability journey to share and collaborate with more experienced colleagues.

Option 2: Cluster partnership – working virtually

We want to collaborate as a group of UK schools. We all want our own individual partner school overseas – but we don’t want to visit our overseas partners.

No problem. You can build a ‘virtual’ partnership. Just build a cluster as per Option 1 and apply for all of the funding available to you as usual – minus the travel element. Think about bringing in some network schools too.

Option 3: Network-based cluster

We want to collaborate as a group of UK schools. We don’t all want our own individual partner school overseas and we don’t all want to travel.

One UK school will act as ‘lead’ school and partner with a minimum of one school from your chosen participating country. Other UK schools can then join the cluster as ‘network’ schools. Again, you’ll need a minimum of four schools in total; including your overseas partner school.

You’ll work with each other on a ‘virtual’ basis and you’ll still qualify for all of the funding apart from travel costs; although the lead Scottish school can still take part in a reciprocal visit with the overseas partner school if they want to.

If you want more schools in the cluster to take part in a reciprocal visit, or for each UK school to have its own individual partner school, then you’ll need to choose Option 1 or Option 2. 

3. Start your journey

Follow the steps below to start your cluster partnership. Click on the purple hyperlinks below each step to view the resources you need for that step. Click here for a summary of all of the resources you’ll need.

Step 1: Read the Cluster Co-ordinator materials to find out more

Step 2: Recruit your cluster

Step 3: Complete your individual whole-school self-evaluations

Every UK-based school in your cluster should complete this. Your international partner schools don’t have to complete this, but they’re very welcome to do so if they wish. 

Step 4: Get free support from your local advisor and get planning!

Your cluster is eligible for 3 days and 3 hours of support that can be taken at any time during the lifetime of your project.

Your local advisor can help you with all of your cluster needs: including collating the results of your individual school self-evaluations into your cluster self-evaluation, planning your collaborative project, completing your funding application, and accessing suitable professional learning. Get in touch with us and we’ll introduce you to them!

Step 5: Submit your funding application

Don’t worry about missing a funding deadline – applications will be assessed every quarter until December 2020. Applications are made online through the British Council’s online funding portal.

 The next deadline is June 15th 2020.

Funding for clusters covers a range of options to support your partnership. Find out more by clicking on the links below.

Step 6: A decision is made on your application by the British Council

Step 7: You receive feedback on your application from the British Council

Step 8: Take action based on the outcome of your funding application

If you’re successful, then you’ll get 80% of your funding upfront and your project can get going!

Remember to make the most of the remaining free support time from your local advisor!

If you’re unsuccessful, then you’re eligible for a further 3 hours of support from your local advisor to look at your application and help you reapply if you want.

Regardless of the outcome, however, you’re still eligible to take part in our FREE professional learning opportunities and make full use all of our FREE classroom resources!

Step 9: Submit your interim project report

The British Council will send you details about this with your funding contract.

Step 10: Submit your final project report

You’ll get full details of this with your funding contract. Once it’s been checked over by the British Council, and if everything looks ok, you’ll receive the final 20% of your funding.

Step 11: Receive your International School Award

You’ll receive the relevant level of the International School Award to recognise and highlight your achievements. 

Don’t forget to get in touch at connectingclassrooms@lfsscotland.org if you need any additional information or advice at any stage of your Connecting Classrooms journey.


Why not have a look at our Professional Learning?