Led by Blackburn with Darwen Council, the Blackburn with Darwen Schools Linking Programme was established in 2017 and is steadily growing; in the 2019/20 academic year we created links between an amazing 56 classes (0ver 1,400 pupils) and we can’t wait to continue started with our new linking next year! Such a shame that we were unable to have our usual celebrations to mark the end of the year, but we would like to celebrate all of these connections we have enabled (take a look on our TLN page to find out more). One particularly successful link took place between Year 4 classes at St Cuthbert’s RC Primary and St Michael with St John CE Primary Schools.
The children had lots of fun on their first meeting. This neutral venue visit took place at the end of the autumn term, last year, at the fabulous, historic 16th century Turton Tower, Bolton; the two linking classes spent the day together gathering inspiration for writing spooky stories. Getting to know you activities, in pairs, encouraged the eight and nine year olds to think about their identity, which helped them create characters for their own creative short stories.
How have the pupil’s benefited? Tamzin Royale, Year 4 teacher at St Michael with St John’s, said: ‘The children were a little nervous before we arrived as they didn’t know what to expect. The set-up of the day helped the children immensely by starting with a shared experience of the mystery tales. This enabled them to have conversations with their new friends when they got into partners. Our children were disappointed when the day ended, but are excited to meet up with their St Cuthbert’s friends again in the spring term.’
Jayne Ivory, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Director of Children’s Services & Education, said:‘It’s so important that children growing up in different parts of Blackburn with Darwen have chances to come into contact to learn from one another, to explore different cultures and religions, and to make friends. Schools Linking activities are a really fun and engaging way to do this, while being relevant to the curriculum and supporting other work pupils are doing in class. Schools Linking has been nationally recognised as contributing to how schools can support their pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. I’m really pleased that we can offer the programme to Blackburn with Darwen schools, and that so many are taking part this year.’
There is a real commitment from teachers and head teachers, working in partnership with the local authority, to bring students together across the district; we look forward to working with them again in September and sharing our linking news with you!
Sharifa Valli School Effectiveness Co-ordinator, Blackburn with Darwen Sharifa.Valli@blackburn.gov.uk