The Calderdale School Linking Programme is led by Fiona Willats, Museum Education Officer. This a national initiative, which has been running successfully in primary and secondary schools since 2001. The programme has been developed by The Linking Network, who are based in Bradford.
The Linking Network helps schools and communities to develop a positive, cohesive ethos by helping children, young people and adults to explore identity, celebrate diversity, promote community and champion equality.
Schools Linking offers schools a powerful and positive programme that addresses important issues with children and young people through a carefully structured approach to understand their own identity and the way they are connected to others in their community, district, country and the wider world.
In response to the unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic, Schools Linking is offering a new creative digital model where classes do not meet face to face but will:
- Build a sense of togetherness between children and young people through a planned programme of lessons.
- Provide opportunities for shared learning adventures from within the classroom;
- Create common, shared experiences for children that encourages them to recognise their feelings, promotes healing and develops trust, empathy, awareness and respect for others.
- Enable pupils to develop skills of enquiry, critical thinking, reflection and communication
- Provide opportunities to contribute to the wider community.
The last year has reminded us of the many ways in which we are all interconnected and the importance of good relations at many levels. As 28 local programmes across the country, we can give all schools in our districts crucial support to facilitate work on integration through the curriculum.
Schools linking process
Schools Linking CPD 1
This will be provided virtually by the national and local teams for both new and renewing schools. After finding out more of the rationale behind the project and discovering the new virtual resources available, linked teachers will then have time to “break-out” and plan in their pairs. The resources will be a combination of shared learning experiences created and commissioned by TLN such as storytelling, drama, music. (see section 1 below). Across all stages of the process we will support teachers to ensure there is an emphasis on recognising feelings and opportunities for children and young people to ‘check in’ and identify where they are socially and emotionally, as part of the transition to new ways of working.
This will focus initially on exploring Identity through the question “Who am I?” and they will explore the diversity within their own school community by sharing their work with each other. This will be through a combination of shared experiences provided by The Linking Network such as storytelling and music, alongside activity led by their own teacher using resources provided at the training. This becomes a launch pad for classes to undertake a journey together.
Exchange of Information
Work will be exchanged digitally between classes to start to build relationships and a sense of togetherness. This supports the process of exploring diversity through the question Who are we? and then classes reflect on the identity work they receive, developing skills of enquiry, reflection and empathy.
Technology, which most schools will have developed to support home-learning, will be invaluable.
First meetings at neutral venues will not take place, but shared experiences through video calls and shared learning adventures provided by TLN will be a key component. The role of the shared experience, beyond that of the classroom, is to allow classes to ask questions, explore and discover together. We are commissioning a northern Theatre company to write a bespoke ‘Schools Linking’ play for all 30,000 pupils to engage with. We are also involving authors, poets, storytellers, local museums football stadiums, historic sites and community spaces, to create exciting shared experiences.
The digital nature of the shared experience creates the opportunity to widen the experience to include parents and carers. Building on the success of the Home Learning platform and work on Parental Engagement in linking in 2019-2020, TLN will offer resources for engaging parents in the Linking Process.
Schools Linking CPD2
This will be provided virtually by the national and local teams for schools linking teachers and will equip them with the guidance, resources and time to plan for the next stage of the journey. Ideas will be provided for ways in which both groups of pupils will think about, plan and contribute to the wider community. This unit will be developed through the Autumn Term so that we can set it in the context in which schools are operating.
Ongoing exchange of work and video connection will deepen the contact and understanding between pupils
Shared social action
During Phase 2 classes will work on a social action project which they will agree on between themselves. This could be an environmental project, a shared local community issue or a global issue of mutual concern. This will further build relationship between the two groups of pupils and embed the habit of social action through their community engagement.
opportunities will be available from TLN, or locally, for classes to engage together in learning and performing shared drama, poetry, dance or creating a virtual art gallery.
Celebrate: Local areas may create virtual shared linking celebrations. A National celebration will be arranged for the Network.
How to join
Community schools, academies, minority faith schools, primary or secondary schools area all welcome. We would love to have you on board, please contact us for more information.