Faith Minister Lord Bourne visited the Stockwood Discovery Centre, a wonderful museum in in Luton on Thursday 29th November to see first-hand the work of the Schools Linking Programme, led by The Linking Network, to help school children learn more about different faiths and backgrounds in their local communities.
Jointly funded with the Department for Education with support from the Pears Foundation, the Schools Linking Programme currently engages with over 22,000 children and young people from different backgrounds across the country and provides sustained opportunities for them to meet, build new relationships, work together and contribute to their wider neighbourhoods.
These opportunities include taking part in competitive sports to boost team-working skills, creating collaborative artwork and community volunteering. The Year 6 Pupils from two Luton Schools enjoyed looking at Carriages, Caravans and Lorries in the Museum collection before embarking on a truly joyful task in which they worked in groups from both schools to construct a carriage from Giant Meccano that could carry a member of the group across the large museum space.
Luton Culture have been an important partner for the Luton Schools Linking Programme since it launched in 2009 and this year over 800 children will meet in museums across the Borough as part of the programme which has been written into Luton Borough Council’s Community Cohesion Strategy over time.
The children presented to Lord Bourne, Sir Trevor Pears from the Pears Foundation and Civil Servants from MHCLG and DfE. One of the Year 6 Pupils was asked what their advice would be for other children before taking part in linking said ‘I would say jump straight in and make the most of the opportunity.’
Faith Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth visiting the Linking Meeting said:
“Schools Linking is a great example of how children and young people from different backgrounds can come together to meet, learn and share interests that help them prepare for life in modern Britain and make them great citizens of the future.”
“The government is determined to support programmes such as these to ensure young people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to take part in challenging and rewarding experiences.”
Below are some case studies about the impact of the Schools Linking Programme:
Heaton St Barnabas Church of England Primary School, Bradford and Nessfield Primary School, Keighley
St Barnabas Primary School and Nessfield Primary School started a new link between all 120 of their Year 4 pupils this year (2018). The children met at their local outdoor centre to take part in collaborative activities which helped them find common ground through shared interests including art and poetry. As the children continue to develop their shared interests, facilitators can stimulate dialogue and help children find out more about one another.
Armitage Church of England Primary School, Manchester and North Cheshire Jewish Primary School, Stockport
Pupils from 2 Year 3 classes in each school exchanged names of class members prior to their first meeting. From this exercise the children noticed that they had both different names and different interests and hobbies. There was much excitement for 2 boys who shared the same name which later led to the foundations of a new friendship. As they celebrate their differences the 2 boys look forward to their next opportunity to meet and build on their relationship.