Key points to take away

14 tips to remember and final inspirational case studies.

Beath High School, partnered with Mapanga and Njale Primary Schools.
Beath High School, partnered with Mapanga and Njale Primary Schools.

14 tips to remember

Here are the key points the SMP are keen readers take from this Guide. We think that following these 14 recommendations will help you develop a strong, sustainable and impactful school partnership.

  1. Before starting a school partnership invest in in establishing active, critical thinking in important related areas such as global inequalities and social justice.
  2. With your partner, think about possible unintended negative consequences and work to mitigate these as you endeavour to ‘do no harm’.
  3. Work to build a strong mutual understanding with your prospective partner school: the context in which they are working, their expectations and the realities of their lives.
  4. Before starting a partnership, invest time in really open, honest dialogue, being pro-active to raise the key questions to ensure you really do agree on what the partnership is setting out to achieve and put this down in a simple, jargon-free Partnership Agreement.
  5. Hold yourself, and your partnership, accountable to the 11 Scotland-Malawi Partnership Principles, creating space for both you and your partner to separately reflect on whether you are really living up to these principles, then sharing the results with each other.
  6. Think innovatively about how you can use digital technologies to support sustained dialogue and meaningful two-way educational engagements as part of the partnership, before assuming international travel is the next step.
  7. Wherever possible, endeavour to make international travel a reciprocal opportunity, available to both sides of the partnership.
  8. Where there is international travel, ensure those involved have appropriate learning, familiarisation and critical thinking to ensure they get the most from the trip and ‘do no harm’, and ensure young people are supported to digest, embed and share their learning experiences after the trip.
  9. Think critically about how images and video are used throughout your partnership and the narrative you are developing for others to consume: ensure you are not unwittingly reinforcing harmful negative stereotype.
  10. Do not assume that interactions between young Scots and Malawians will automatically achieve the most appropriate learning outcomes, consider a structured ‘critical dialogue’ approach which helps ensure a depth of two-way understanding.
  11. Ensure your school partnership is, first and foremost, a two-way educational partnership, embedded in the curriculum at both sides, rather than a mini development project.
  12. Work to engage teachers and learners across all of both schools in the partnership and avoid the risk of too much sitting on the shoulders of one or two staff members who will inevitably move on at some point in the future.
  13. Regularly review your partnership against your Partnership Agreement and the 11 Scotland-Malawi Partnership Principles: don’t be afraid of difficult conversations, uncomfortable feedback or the need to evolve your partnership agreement in response to learning and experience.
  14. Become a member of the SMP and encourage your partner school to be a member of our sister network, MaSP, and use these networks to tap into resources, experience and information, as well as sharing your own learning through these communities of practice.

Final case studies to inspire you!

Read the full case studies from the partnerships that contributed to our guide, below!

MaSP visited 17 schools across Malawi in early 2022, listening to their lived experience of partnering with Scotland. Read their report here.

Schools and youth groups:

  • Penicuik High School partnered with Namadzi CDSS here
  • Beath High School partnered with Mapanga and Njale Primary Schools here
  • The Watson’s Malawi Partnership here
  • St Ronan’s Primary School partnered with Thondwe Primary School, video here
  • 25th Stirling (Dunblane) Boy’s Brigade partnered with Likhubula province here

Young voices from Penicuik High School - Namadzi CDSS partnership:

“The relationship between Scotland and Malawi partnership has increased the knowledge of teachers which are improving through their studies which can assist young people to achieve their education”, Roureen from Mikombe

“The benefits are that it (partnership) promotes unity between two nations, Malawi and Scotland and it reduces racism between the two countries.” Francis from Mikombe

Wanangwa and Innocent from Namadzi after the 2019 reciprocal visit:


"We would like to assure everyone that we have learnt a lot during our visit in Penicuik and this will go a long way to improve the teaching and learning and encouraging all students to work hard in Namadzi. We would also like to thank, in a special way, a trillion times, the beautiful families that hosted us with amazing kindness and comfort. We shall forever cherish the good times we had together."


Anna, a pupil from Penicuik High School said:


"I also really enjoyed all the opportunities I was given with being involved, it allowed me to meet passionate people striving for a better future in Malawi and allowed me to make fantastic connections and friends to this day. Being a part of a partnership with Malawi has shaped my whole life in the most positive way possible and that is something special."


Kate, a pupil from Penicuik High School went on to say:


"I would say my partnership highlights have been mixing and making friends with students in Malawi, learning about their lives and comparing our cultures like what our school days involved, playing rounders with the school, meeting everyone the first time and the school’s welcome. The partnership benefitted me by making me more confident by pushing me outside my comfort zone, visiting a place where the culture and climate was different and talking with people who I’d never met before. It shaped my views of the wider world by bringing me out of my bubble and surrounding me with different lifestyles, cultures and issues which opened my eyes to the wider world."