Top 10 shortlist for

Community Collaboration

Discover the schools named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration

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About the World's Best School Prize for Community Collaboration

From diversity to empathy. From partnership to debate. From progressive values to regrounding. Recognising the schools who are integratively working with their communities in these and more ways to secure solid grounds necessary for the children’s progress.

Meet the Top 10 shortlisted schools

Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle 1

📍 Karachi, Pakistan

Community School “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe”

📍 Schalkau, Germany

Dunoon Grammar School

📍 Dunoon, Scotland, United Kingdom

EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler

📍 Novo Hamburgo, Brazil

G.L. David Memorial Integrated School

📍 Balanga, Philippines

I.E.D. Instituto Técnico Comercial José de San Martín

📍 Tabio, Colombia

Khoj School

📍 Mumbai, India

PCMC English Medium School, Bopkhel

📍 Pune, India

Still I Rise International School

📍 Nairobi, Kenya

Westside Elementary

📍 Sun Prairie, United States of America

Diseño sin título (23)
Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle 1

📍 Karachi, Pakistan

🏫 Private school

👥 301 to 500 secondary students

How teaching progressive values brings change

Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle 1, a private school in Karachi, Pakistan, has created key outreach programmes based on progressive values that help some of the most vulnerable people in the community, in particular transgender and intersex people.

Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle’s ethos centres around the idea that education and the youth who inherit progressive ideals, can invoke greater change – even if that change is small. 

The school seeks to help enlighten its students and encourage them to help bring about positive outcomes through PSHE lessons. Its core strands comprise several principles: Personal Development, Social, Health and Emotional Values and Beliefs. It has used this as a foundation for club activities that actively work with different parts of the community and promote eco-friendly initiatives such as ‘Team PNEC- NUST, Shell Eco-Marathon’. The campaign allowed students to learn about the design of a model for a fuel-efficient car that helped broaden their insights into the type of infrastructure necessary for an eco-friendly and greener Pakistan. 

But central to Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle 1 mission is the collaboration its students have had with transgender and intersex people. Through its Social Services Club, students first partnered up with Pakistan’s first Transgender Lawyer, Nisha Rao. Together, they created a documentary that helped illustrate the issues faced by the transgender community, who are amongst the most marginalised in Pakistani society. Students also partnered up with a non-profit, TransPride Society to build awareness and spread positive messages of inclusion, love and human dignity. 

If Beaconhouse School System Gulshan Middle 1 were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the money in two ways. The first would be to allocate some of the money to the student council and community services that would expand their activities. The second use would be used to upgrade the ICT and science lab facilities in order to help spread the school’s resources abroad and foster collaboration with institutions internationally.

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Diseño sin título (24)
Community School “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe”

📍 Schalkau, Germany

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 primary and secondary students

How to teach community spirit

Community School “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe” in Schalkau, Thuringia, Germany teaches its students that the best way to truly learn is to experience working with the community. Focused on vocational training, Goethe School is inspired by the motto: “Together we are strong,” and pushes its students to understand that school is a collaboration with many crucial partners including local companies, kindergartens, institutions, retirement homes, the police and local authorities.

The rural school believes that students take pride in working with outsiders and contributing to community goals. They learn how to tackle real-life challenges, so the staff encourage students to think collaboratively.

One of the school’s initiatives saw students build playhouses for kids, market stalls and outdoor seating for the wider community to use for the local Christmas market at Castle Eyrichshof, Bavaria. The market stalls were then reused for a number of events throughout the year. From that project a close collaboration with staff at the castle was born. Together, students from Goethe School and Castle Eyrichsh are preparing an exhibition showcasing their works. Annually, all year groups search for new sponsorships from community leaders and businesses in order to better understand history, traditions and handicraft techniques. Students also make their own initiatives. One form 8 class restored a local green space not too far from the school grounds. They mowed the grass, swept away the litter and prepped the space for sport activities and made it into a welcoming space for the community to enjoy again. 

If Community School “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe” Schalkau were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the funds to update the school’s facilities and develop its outreach programme to local partners. It would also use the money to buy trees, plants and other materials to revitalise the school’s yard and buy fabrics to create costumes for the drama department that would put on plays for retirement homes and kindergarten students.

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Diseño sin título (25)
Dunoon Grammar School

📍 Dunoon, Scotland, United Kingdom

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 secondary students

Skilling students to reverse a “brain drain”

Dunoon Grammar School, a state secondary school in Dunoon, Scotland, is using its skill-based courses to turn around the fortunes of its predominantly rural local area, which has seen an exodus of young people lacking opportunities.

To try and reverse this “brain drain,” Dunoon Grammar School evaluated the community’s needs and gaps in the workplace and it facilitated over 50 skill-based courses to empower students to work in a range of different professions. Courses are diverse, offering students the chance to learn more about travel and tourism, design, or maritime studies.

Dunoon Grammar School works hard to ensure students reach their destinations post-school and connects them to regular work placements to bolster their chances. The school also develops entrepreneurial skills in its young people, allowing them to establish their own local enterprises or to effectively contribute to regeneration projects.

Working with Apps for Good - an educational charity that promotes coding skills – students have generated ideas and coded prototype apps, IoT and Machine Learning solutions to benefit society. When COP26 was held in Glasgow students conceived and coded apps to address the Climate Crisis.

The school has also offered learning experiences for children and parents to enjoy together in areas such as health and wellbeing, numeracy, literacy and digital skills. Its family liaison officer also supports families with applications for government benefits, helping to address the poverty-related attainment gap.

The school won the JA Europe Entrepreneurial School Award and its community collaboration work has also been celebrated through a number of Early Day motions at the UK Parliament at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

If Dunoon Grammar School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the funds to assist with transport and invest in more advanced remote learning technology. 

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Diseño sin título (26)
EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler

📍 Novo Hamburgo, Brazil

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 secondary students

How democracy can give students a stake in their school’s success

EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler, a primary school in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, was once a dilapidated institution that saw high numbers of students failing and dropping out, but now has almost no failures after bringing in democratic assemblies that give students a stake.

Back in 2012, like other schools in the area that serve impoverished communities, EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler was considered a “weak” institution and teachers were demoralised by the poor attitudes of its students who lacked the motivation to complete their studies. The facilities of the dirty, graffiti lined school were in such disrepair that many were unusable and verbal and physical conflicts could erupt in class. There was a lack of community spirit; both students and teachers felt as if they didn’t belong. 

Determined to turn this around, the school pursued a democratic educational model. The school brought in a small Democratic Management Committee, independent of the school’s leadership, which reached out to students and parents to better understand what change they wanted to see within the school. All students participate in monthly class-based assemblies and raise issues which are recorded in notebooks. Representatives from each class then meet with Democratic Management Committee to raise the issues and discuss solutions. The Democratic Management Committee then reviews what’s written in the notebooks and sees which of the proposals are possible. 

Each year, a school-wide conference is held at which the biggest demands and issues are discussed and debated in greater detail. It all comes down to a vote to see which of the viable demands can be achieved in the following year. In assemblies and conferences, everyone has a vote and each student has the right to criticise, demand or amend any proposals brought forward. The school makes sure the forum is a safe place for pupils to voice their concerns and have that voice respected.

Since everyone can participate, everyone feels responsible for the development of the school and learns to listen and respect everyone's needs. Teachers, meanwhile, feel empowered as agents of change.

If EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would consult the school assemblies to determine what would be the best use of the funds, ideally buying round tables, whiteboards, games for the younger years.

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Diseño sin título (27)
G.L. David Memorial Integrated School

📍 Balanga, Philippines

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Taking a village to raise a child

G.L David Memorial Integrated School, a public school in Balanga City, Philippines, believes that no child should be left behind and brought the whole community together to ensure their welfare. 

Inspired by the African proverbs “it takes a village to raise a child”, the school has brought parents, community members, local government, and businesses establishments together to cultivate pupils’ social, intellectual, and emotional wellbeing and tackle barriers to their education.

One of the major problems the school identified was that the majority of its students came from low-income backgrounds with families having financial difficulties and many students were malnourished. Apart from special literacy and emotional development programs, the school launched the KAIN PA project to help provide daily free meals to its students. The initiative procures vegetables, fruits and other goods from government officials, NGOs and parents who buy ingredients from the market and sometimes help cook the meals themselves. The KAIN project was a resounding success with malnutrition rates falling from 12.11% in 2019 to 2.13% in 2020. The school also gets free eye screening through the Essilor Company, which also donates glasses to pupils and teachers. 

If G.L David Memorial Integrated School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the funds to improve the school’s library and laboratory. The money would also be used to continue supporting the KAIN PA project and other pupil’s wellbeing programs.  

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Diseño sin título (28)
I.E.D. Instituto Técnico Comercial José de San Martín

📍 Tabio, Colombia

🏫 Government school

👥 2000+ kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Overcoming conflict with debate

I.E.D. Instituto Técnico Comercial José de San Martín, a K-12 public school in Tabio, serves vulnerable children with complex backgrounds or disabilities. Most of this school’s students come from poor families and many have been displaced by violence. Believing that they have the power to build peace and a different reality for themselves, their communities and the country, the school created the Annual Social Science Congress to teach them that they can contribute to a better society through debate and mutual respect. 

The Social Science Congress, an initiative that has entered its 10th year, is a forum to stimulate critical thinking, research, innovation, and social transformation. Being involved in the Congress has allowed students to strengthen their communication skills on multiple subjects, including questions that reflect some of the biggest issues that the country faces. All students participate with papers and debates and write about their research about the annual theme. An important component of social inclusion consists of adapting these activities to promote the participation of students with special needs. 

All students are invited to participate in the "Sanmartinian Artists" contest, where they draw a piece that identifies the annual theme of the Congress, which seeks to encourage their artistic expressions. The gallery of drawings is presented at the event and the winning drawing becomes the logo of the Congress

The Congress continued during the height of COVID, with the event transferred online; students and teachers were connected through Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google Classroom. In order to ensure access to all students and their families, the event was also broadcasted on the local radio station for those who have limited internet access. During the pandemic, the theme of the Congress enabled students to analyse the confinement that they and the country were experiencing. The digital Congress earned the recognition of the Ministry of Interior, which gave the school a National Award in the category of ‘Children, Youth and Adolescence’.

This school is supported by the Fundación Alquería Cavelier, as part of its flagship education program “Programa de mejoramiento de la calidad educativa”, in partnership with the Education Department of Cundinamarca.

If I.E.D. Instituto Técnico Comercial José de San Martín were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the funds to expand the work of the Congress and of the other seven postulated projects that work on environmental sustainability, social inclusion and technological innovation; for which they do not have the necessary resources. The school has counted on the support from the Alqueria Cavalier Foundation in human talent for quality training for the teachers and management team. Lastly, the school would continue to help its teachers and students in research and training work, in order to transcend borders.

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Diseño sin título (15)
Khoj School

📍 Mumbai, India

🏫 Government school

👥 101 to 200 kindergarten and primary students

Building emotional intelligence and empathy in students and caregivers

Khoj - Apni Shala's SEL-Integrated School Initiative, currently operating at a public school in Mumbai, India, uses a hybrid educational model that incorporates counselling, mindfulness and inclusion practices to help empower its students and their families. 

The school caters to 200 children from Grade K-4 who come from low-income families in Mumbai’s Govandi, Makhurd and Chembur areas, part of M-East ward, one of the most marginalised areas in the city. The area, largely underserved, has a low student attendance record – 46% of children between the age of 3-5 do not attend school – and an illiteracy rate of 21%.  

It was through the joint efforts of the community and the faculty behind Khoj that the school was able to find a physical space and build classrooms that could provide room for young children to have an education. Central to its commitment to education is the view that when it comes to teaching a child, it cannot happen in isolation, but through a harmonious and healthy ecosystem that revolves around the child’s wellbeing. 

This led Khoj to develop a holistic educational model informed by Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). The process focuses on building emotional intelligence and empathy, in not just the students but ‘caregivers’ - a term Khoj prefers to use when referring to parents or guardians. 

Central to this is the idea that ‘people are not the problem: the problem is the problem’. The school has taken great strides to get to the heart of issues causing distress to its students in their home life, with the understanding that the breakdown in family relationships is commonly the result of oppressive systems of poverty and exclusion. For instance, in the case of physical violence, Khoj first works towards ensuring the child’s safety and then proceeds to support the parent with mental health support and coaching in emotional management. 

Its students also meditate in the morning before class and if they feel overwhelmed during their lessons, they can request to leave the room so they can calm themselves and return at their own pace. 

Khoj aims to become a model school in the given context. If Khoj were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the prize money to help create tools for data management and impact assessments so that the practices can be widely shared, and invest in professional development courses for its faculty so that it can continue to offer a high-quality education to its students.

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Diseño sin título (17)
PCMC English Medium School, Bopkhel

📍 Pune, India

🏫 Government school

👥 201 to 300 kindergarten and primary students

Seeing parents as partners in children’s holistic development

PCMC English Medium School, Bopkhel, a school in Pune, India has created a cultural dynamic centred on close ties within the community and with parents as partners in children’s holistic development.

The school resides in a small, remote village and is run as a Public Private Partnership between NGO the Akanksha Foundation and local government. Most of its students come from low-income families and many parents had little education and did not always see education as important for their child when earning a living is the biggest priority. 

With the knowledge that parents have a profound impact on children’s ability to learn and absorb information, the school makes home visits to better understand students’ home environments and build strong relationships with their parents, instilling in them the importance of education.

PCMC English Medium School, Bopkhel also works with local doctors, grocers and religious leaders to help create programmes that help parents in financial need. The school launched a programme of free medical check-ups in the community and ‘Master Chef’ style classes were launched that taught families about how to have a healthy and balanced diet.  Students are also part of a daily fruit eating initiative that keeps them on track for healthy eating and every week they have a set meal plan. The impact has trickled into their home lives as parents have started to follow the same nutrition plan. 

To work on the emotional needs of its students and their families, social workers and counsellors scheduled meetings with parents, offering therapy for any distress caused by their background or financial status. For some parents, these talks worked to great effect, allowing them to become emotionally stable enough to help support not only their own children, but others as well.  Such schemes helped create a more vibrant and tight knit community in the village, with parents becoming more actively involved in the management of the school and their children’s lives.

If PCMC English Medium School, Bopkhel were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would donate some of the money to the Akanksha Foundation due to their contribution towards the management of the school. The funds would also be distributed towards schools that also work with the Akanksha Foundation.

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Diseño sin título (16)
Still I Rise International School

📍 Nairobi, Kenya

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 101 to 200 primary students

Celebrating difference amongst diversity

Still I Rise International School, an international private school in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first school in the world to offer the International Baccalaureate to refugee children, free of charge. Located in the heart of Mathare slum, one of the largest slums in Africa, the school works to celebrate difference among its diverse students and tackle the inequalities they face, providing them with two meals a day, uniforms, stationery and health insurance.

Around half of its students are refugees from Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somali, South Sudan, and Rwanda, the rest are Kenyans from vulnerable backgrounds. At times, such a mix has resulted in clashes due to the differences in language, culture and nationality. During school meals, some students have refused to eat because the food is of a different origin. Others viewed each other with suspicion or as inferiors based on their ethnicity. Some students struggled to communicate in English or Swahili, making school life difficult. In response, the school worked to celebrate the differences among its student body, encouraging them to see each other as equals. 

The school works to bring students together regardless of culture. Students are encouraged to speak their native language at least once a week and on occasion teachers and students attend school in an outfit of their choice that shows off their unique heritage. Students have taken to crafting traditional artefacts, reciting traditional poetry and singing their own national anthems. 

If Still I Rise International School, Nairobi were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the funds to expand its library with computers and open it to the public to enjoy as a way of giving back to the community. It would also use the funds to establish a Jenga Pamoja Initiative Exhibition, which would display the unique cultures of its students.

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Westside Elementary

📍 Sun Prairie, United States of America

🏫 Government school

👥 301 to 500 primary and secondary students

Why schools should nurture parents as well as children

Westside Elementary is a K-5 community school in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States, whose core belief is that nurturing children and their parents with love and compassion allows young people to thrive. It’s not uncommon to see a mother call a teacher when she runs out of baby formula or families going through the school’s food pantry. At Westside Elementary, the wellbeing of its students and the people in their lives takes precedence over all else and it partners with a number of organisations to achieve this.

The school is one of the most diverse elementary schools in the local area. When it realised that some parents and caregivers needed extra support with English language skills, it took action by partnering with a local adult education organisation, The Literacy Network, to provide adult classes in English as a second language. 

Collaborating with the Rooted Family, a group that teaches mindfulness, the school holds parenting classes twice a year for six weeks. Classes teach strategies based on brain development, building healthy relationships between parents and their children, and supporting parents in raising confident children. The school also puts on healthy cooking and active lifestyle classes for families with another partner, University of Wisconsin Extension - Nutrition department. Partnering  with a local church, therapy support groups are arranged for those suffering from bereavement. 

If Westside Elementary were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration, it would use the money for professional development opportunities for its staff in restorative justice and hire an on-site restorative justice coach  to work with our community, families and children who need extra emotional support.

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