The Bolton Linking Programme has grown each year since it began in 2013 and this year teachers from 32 different schools will lead links between 50 classes so that approximately 1,500 children will meet and work together building trust and empathy and understanding. The programme is led and hosted by the Achievement Cohesion & Integration Service (ACIS), Bolton Council with support from The Linking Network. ACIS supports children and young people who are new to Bolton to access education and see linking as a crucial contribution to their work.
Teachers met at the Bolton Wildlife Trust this October for a day of training and creative planning for their linking year ahead. This will hopefully lead to approximately 1500 children being involved in this project. There is clear recognition from teachers and schools that this work is highly important as these children are the future of a cohesive and successful Bolton.
One established school link is between Brownlow Fold and The Gates Primary School. The two classes from each school met for the first time during the Autumn term 2017 at Bolton College where they participated in a “sport festival”. This included communication and teamwork activities led by student facilitators from the college overseen by the college tutors. Both teachers and their children have been very positive about their experience with linking. Miss Altham, class teacher at The Gates Primary School said: “The Schools Linking Project has been an enriching and fun experience for both myself and the children. They have loved getting to know their new friends in a new environment and I feel grateful to have had this opportunity to give the children a chance to meet and get to know people outside of school”
A wide range of providers including Bolton College, Bolton Arena, Octagon Theatre, Bolton Lads and Girls Club in Bolton support the Bolton Schools Linking Programme by hosting first meetings of the classes linking in a neutral space.
Another first was parent linking, whereby parents from Kearsley West Primary and St Andrews Primary joined their children in a visit to an adventure park in Bolton. As well as all the fun activities, there was food and refreshments for the children, staff and parents. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities for parent linking in the future.
If you would like to know more about linking in Bolton led by the ACIS centre as part of Bolton Council’s work on cohesion and integration then please contact Nicola Mahon by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or James Orme at email@example.com