A multi-lingual teacher has been explaining how both she and her pupils have benefitted from the introduction of 'eTwinning' at her school.
Sandra Underwood, who teaches modern foreign languages at Lytham St Anne's Technology and Performing Arts College in Lancashire, told the Guardian that the impact on her students has been "immense".
The eTwinning programme, which is run by the European Commission and is supported in the UK by the British Council, is designed to foster collaborative communication between educational institutions across the continent.
Totally free, the British Council says that eTwinning is not about creating extra paperwork for those in teaching jobs, but instead aims to provide a framework to enable schools to carry out "exciting curriculum work with partners in another country".
For Ms Underwood, signing up for the programme has created not only benefits for her and her pupils, but also for the special needs teachers and other colleagues at her school.
"The impact on students has been immense - from engaging pupils with special educational needs to enthusing difficult-to-reach individuals," she explained.
"Having someone 'real' to write to meant that they scored higher [on assessments]."
In terms of personal development within her role as a secondary teacher, Ms Underwood added that eTwinning has provided a significant boost, helping her to gain experiences that a regular model of teaching would not have afforded.
"I have gained invaluable knowledge, as well as learning about various teaching methods and styles that I would not have known about had I not been part of the network," she explained.
Schools too can reap the rewards of encouraging their teachers to get involved with eTwinning.
Ms Underwood has secured Lytham St Anne's various eTwinning quality labels and helped it to become a British Council-recognised International School, after it won an International School Award in 2010 - raising the school's profile in the process.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels