Welwyn Garden City pupils to use Facebook-style technology for global links

MORE than 1,100 Welwyn Hatfield schoolchildren will be at the vanguard of a unique initiative to help them and children around the world become ‘global citizens’.

Using Facebook-style social networking technology, they and their teachers will share experiences and ideas, and work together across the world on school projects.

The WGC children are at the forefront of a plan to link 40,000 schools and two million pupils worldwide by 2013.

Applecroft, Swallow Dell and Rowans primary schools in WGC, together with Brockswood School in Hemel Hempstead, form one UK end of the scheme.

In the prosperous northern Indian state of Haryana, home of the country’s capital Dehli, Rohtak, Sirsa, Balsamand and Dharuhera schools will soon become familiar names to the WGC pupils.

Vicky Parsey, headteacher at Applecroft, said: “We’ll be able to give all our children a window on the world they’re growing up in, and help them further understand the role they have.

“We all have as much to learn from this experience as we hope we have to give. It is a very exciting project.”

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The link-up comes through the Connecting Classrooms scheme run by the British Council, the UK’s cultural relations hub.

The WGC and Hemel pupils will use social networking to bridge the 4,000 mile gap, and over the next three years they’ll work jointly on projects with Haryana children.

The partnership will begin with a series of ‘getting to know you’ collaborations, where pupils share self-portraits and stories of their school day. They’ll then describe their homes, schools and communities.

Next they plan a ‘seed exchange’ swapping plants and seeing how they grow as a way of learning about their different climates.

Once the children and their teachers have got to know each other, they will then work on projects about global issues such as sustainability, citizenship and fair trade.

Haryana is one of India’s wealthiest and most economically developed states with the third highest per capita income in the country.

Like the UK, India has a huge range of achievements in education.

The Indian Business School is ranked above its equivalents at Oxford and Cambridge.

On the other hand, in India child labour has recently been outlawed so children can go to school.

One in four teaching jobs in India is unfilled.

Haryana’s joint director of education, Mr Bhagatram Vats, and Mumbai’s British Council representative Mr Chetan Mehta were welcomed to all the schools to launch the initiative.

They also met Justin Donovan, Hertfordshire’s chief education officer and councillor Terry Douris, the county’s deputy executive member for education.

A member of the WGC Society gave them a tour of the town.