Ameerah’s Take – A day in the Dales

16/03/2018

A day in the Dales

Early last week Meg, Nahida and I spent the day at Glasshouses Community Primary School in the outskirts of Harrogate. It was a beautiful drive along the North Yorkshire moors and an incredibly bright day! The aim of the day was to plan upcoming links between All Saints CE Primary, who are a large inner city school with three classes in Year 3 linking with classes from three rural schools: St Cuthbert’s CE Primary, Fountains Earth CE Primary and Glasshouses Community CE Primary.

As it was lunch time for Glasshouses students when we arrived, we were treated to some of their dessert: A lovely apple pie. No better way to start a meeting! Meg began by running through the structure in which our linking days take place- children first meet at one link school, then the other link school and end with a final celebration. The teachers can use the resources provided for linking as a foundation to work from and, most importantly, shape their own linking experience.

Nahida shared experiences of past linking where students have not just met at each other’s schools but gone to neutral venues for the day, such as Cartwright Hall, and worked collaboratively to produce drawings together in the style of David Hockney. Other neutral venues include Nell Bank, where students truly embrace the outdoors through orienteering and problem solving together with their link partners.

The teachers spoke of how excited and eager their children were to meet each other and had brought ‘swap boxes’ that their classes had made for their linking partners. In class, children had explored two questions- ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who are We?’ Through the exploration of these two questions, children produced work to send to each other so that the process of getting to know one another could begin before they even met. As well as this work, classes had also carefully selected other things that they wanted to include in their ‘swap box’, this included information about projects they had been working on- one class was particularly eager to show their linking partners their work from Stone Age day. Other interesting objects, such as school jumpers, were also included. These swap boxes would serve to help each child involved in the linking feel that they knew a little more of the children they would get to meet.

Time was spent discussing strategies for helping children talk about identity, diversity, community and equality within their own classroom before moving onto the planning of the link days! Ideas to enable dialogue between children such as rambles, a village walk, touring an old church building, art activities, as well as many other enjoyable talk based classroom activities were all discussed. Teachers got into linking pairs to finalise plans for the day.

One school has a forest school, so woodland activities and den building are on the agenda for their linking partner! Plus, possible ideas for an evening event for both parents and children out in the Dales were discussed.

The day was a success, made even better by the lovely weather and topped off with a tour around the Glasshouses school by two student ambassadors.

We look forward to the fantastic school linking ahead!