Jim Knight, the schools minister, said that the £3m School Linking Network (SLN) would help schools promote community cohesion, a duty imposed on them by the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
The SLN will run a website where schools can find partners online and provide training, resources and support for teachers and local authorities.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers welcomed the announcement, but argued that it jars with the government's policy of encouraging the establishment of more faith schools. "More needs to be done to ensure children learn about other communities," a spokeswoman said. "But some schools start from a disadvantage because they (work) on religious lines."
Knight said school linking could involve face-to-face meetings with schools in different areas - or even abroad - as well as via email, the internet and video-conferencing, to build relationships and work together on joint projects.