Led by Discover Learning with Calderdale Museums, Calderdale Council, Calderdale Schools Linking Programme began in 2010 and currently involves 531 children from 15 primary schools. The 20 classes on the programme met their paired class at the Bankfield Museum, Calderdale for their first meeting and the museum provides an accessible, fully facilitated neutral venue. The teacher training is also held at the museum.
Advocate of the programme, Emma Hygate, Prevent Education Officer, had this to say:
I have taken part in the Linking Project and can see the positive impact it has on young people in terms of giving them access to a multi-cultural experience where organically there may otherwise be limited opportunities. The project…is a place for our younger members of society to learn about other people in a safe and stimulating environment’
This year our teachers have been surprised at how their SEN pupils have engaged with other children.
‘Our SEN children really made connections with other children we were linked with.’ Teacher from Ash Green Primary School.
‘For one of our children with behavioural issues the project has had a positive impact, the conversations with the other children kept them engaged.’Teacher from Mount Pellon.
And some comments from the neutral venue visit at Bankfield Museum:
‘I didn’t think it would have been that much fun’, child from Mount Pellon Academy.
‘The enthusiasm of the staff, the organisation of the day really helped our children that were nervous.’Teacher from Mount Pellon Academy.
‘As a school, we are predominately White British so one boy was really excited to have a Muslim partner and kept asking lovely questions to his partner to find out about his way of life.’Teacher from Barkisland.
‘The children from Old Town were very mature and caring towards my class.’ Teacher from Parkinson Lane School.
‘Very enlightening for our children to meet others of a different/no faith and of a completely different cultural background.’ Teacher from Parkinson Lane School.