There are many different types of sister school partnerships, aimed at fulfilling a range of purposes determined by local needs. The examples below may be useful to inform the possible activities developed under a sister school partnership.
The primary aim of the sister school partnership is to improve language learning among students.
Community link programs
The sister school partnership is developed out of a community link program, for example an existing 'sister city' program.
The link between schools is planned around a particular area of work for students to engage in and collaborate on.
Some sister school partnerships are based around a structured program – these partnerships are generally formalised and involve a portfolio of activities, e.g. The Australia-Asia BRIDGE program (Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement.
Some sister school partnerships are driven from an information and communications technology (ICT) perspective. These partnerships are suitable for all ages, can be easily set up, managed and moderated. For example, the Australian AsiaConnexions video conferences; the British Council provides information on 'ePal' programs for developing emailing links between students.
Social justice-based partnerships
The sister school partnership focuses on a deep and meaningful collaborative project that has an explicit shared purpose on a social responsibility project.
Professional development programs
The focus of the sister school partnership is on sharing pedagogy, curriculum ideas and resources among teachers and other school staff.
The focus of the partnership is on the intercultural understanding.
Some sister school partnerships are region-specific, with schools specifically targeting partnerships with a particular area or country. For example, the former Eastern Metropolitan Region's partnership with Suzhou Education Bureau in China saw over 40 schools in the region partnering with schools in Suzhou.
Some sister school partnerships may involve a networked group of schools (and potentially other organisations) which come together for a particular aim, for example, shared collaborative projects, promotion of intercultural understanding, social justice etc. For example, Team Bendigo China Sister School Project involves 14 primary schools in the area. Each school has a sister school, but they work together as a network.
This involves a partnership where staff and students get to know one another on a deeper level, work together and potentially undertake reciprocal visits. The impact of the partnership permeates the school, with influence on multiple student age groups and/or disciplines.