This year celebrated the last year of the International School Awards in Sri Lanka and the occasion was marked by the presence of Sunil Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Education and James Dauris, British High Commissioner. 170 school principals and 340 teachers from government schools covering all parts of the country celebrated the occasion with special recognition being made of the many British Council Schools Ambassadors.
Over the last 13 years, British Council and Ministry of Education have been working together to promote the adoption by schools of international learning and collaboration. The British Council International School Award (ISA) is an accreditation scheme that recognises and celebrates exemplary practices of internationalism in schools. Taking place in 54 countries, the International School Award encourages schools to collaborate and innovate with overseas schools to create an enriching learning experience for students through the use of information technology, creative informative practices and a practical context for learning. The International School Award raises the profile of schools internationally.
The International School Award is part of Connecting Classrooms, the British Council’s global education programme for schools, supported by UK Aid. It is designed to help young people become globally aware and globally competitive in the 21st century. It aims to build the capacity of teachers and principals to support them in integrating a range of core skills (21st century skills) into their teaching and learning, such as critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, digital literacy, citizenship, student leadership, as well as collaboration and communication.
Schools that participate in ISA begin by drafting an action plan for an academic year with a minimum of seven projects related to international dimensions covering a range of subject areas and age groups. The schools record their work and present a dossier of evidence that is assessed by a panel. Schools that are successful in meeting the assessment criteria are awarded the accreditation for a period of three years.
Gill Caldicott, Country Director of British Council Sri Lanka, commented: “I am proud to say that by 2016 in Sri Lanka 500 schools had received the ISA with a further 101 receiving the award in 2016-2017. By the end of this month June 2018, we are expecting another 70 schools to receive the award. This is an excellent indication of the value schools are putting on internationalism and collaborative participation. I would like to thank in particular the contribution of the Ministry of Education, Provincial Departments of Education, all of the British Council School Ambassadors, as well as the Principals, teachers and students who have made this programme such a success.”
During the last three years of the programme, 32 grants were awarded for professional school partnerships, 1660 teacher were trained as part of the professional development strand and 384 school leaders received leadership training. In addition, the programme delivered many benefits for students and teachers alike. It helped design, develop and implement international activities in schools, which develop global awareness in both teachers and students across a range of subjects. It also optimised their opportunities for networking, while the award itself gave a sense of recognition to the schools. While the Awards will no longer be offered, an advantage of being a part of British Council’s Schools Offer is the accessibility and connectivity provided by the British Council’s ‘School’s Online’ website (schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org). This portal will continue to provide opportunities for teachers in Sri Lanka to collaborate with partner schools of other countries in a direct and engaging manner.
While the International School Awards will no longer feature in British Council’s schools work in Sri Lanka, the commitment of British Council to work in the field of education will continue. As outlined by Louise Cowcher, Director Education, British Council Sri Lanka: “We are supporting the Government of Sri Lanka’s education reform initiatives through our TRANSFORM programme which will support access for young people to a fit-for-purpose and relevant quality education system, allowing them to reach their potential as well as contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic and social development.
TRANSFORM operates across schools, higher education and skills, including on areas such as continuous professionalisation of teachers and leaders, professional standards, quality assurance and assessment. We are delighted to be working so closely with colleagues across different ministries and departments and for the UK, through British Council, to be a strategic partner for the Government of Sri Lanka in achieving its objectives of providing an internationally benchmarked quality education for all young people in Sri Lanka”.