When we first started planning for MatchMySchool, one of our first questions was – does anyone actually need or want a service like this? To find an answer, we sent out a short survey to teachers in the UK, France, Spain and Germany. As responses started to arrive, it soon became clear there is a real desire to build links with schools in other countries and enable young people across the continent to learn together. So why isn’t it already happening?
There are lots of reasons. For many, it’s a lack time. Teachers everywhere put in long hours and it can take a lot of research to find a suitable partner school abroad when you are already working flat out. As a respondent in a German school put it, “we are constantly in crisis mode at work, and it doesn’t leave us any spare time”.
Finances are another common constraint, both for schools and for individual teachers, who are often not paid for doing overtime. Aside from this, many simply don’t know where to start. One teacher in France cited “a lack of time and experience” as the main reason why she was finding it hard to find contacts abroad, and several said that it was hard to identify suitable partners. Others fear that schools abroad – particularly in the UK – might not be interested, and that it can be hard to sustain a relationship over the long term
The wealth of responses we received from schools everywhere has inspired us and given us some great ideas about how to make MatchMySchool as useful as possible. It has also helped us to identify our three guiding principles – safe, easy to use and free.