This new video The Linking Network 2021 here shares highlights of interviews with Schools Linking facilitators from around the country from Bristol to Kent to Bury to Newcastle, who share their thoughts on the impact of linking on children and young people.
Alia Al Zougbi – Head of Global Learning London, Tower Hamlets and Tower Hamlets Schools Linking Facilitator: The Linking Network builds in a curiosity about the other and about someone who is different… in the most positive sense of the word. A curiosity that yearns to connect with the other and that recognises that there is joy to be had out of this connection…. children who go through the Linking Network, without a question, will grow up to be adults who reach out more, who are more curious to be part of the conversation, because they’ll have had positive encounters as children with other children who are different to them. I think there’s something really special about that and not only special, but necessary and urgent in the world that we’re in today.
Yvette Thomas, Equalities and School Improvement Manager at Buckinghamshire Council and Buckinghamshire Facilitator: So many barriers are knocked down through The Linking Network. It has that impact on schools and children. It really does. You have to be in a classroom and see a good teacher deliver one of those lessons to really understand the impact. Over the last ten years, we’ve been supported by The Linking Network to run Schools Linking with our teachers in Buckinghamshire. The feedback from teachers has been fantastic; they have told us that Linking has opened their eyes to opportunities for young people to engage with children in other schools who they would not normally ever meet. The teachers develop their own relationships with their colleagues in other schools, and I think professionally, as teachers, it’s broadened their horizons and their understanding of how to embed equalities, diversity and community cohesion through the spiritual, moral, and cultural curriculum that they follow in schools. We believe in the project
Erica Field, EMA Teaching and Learning Adviser (KS2-4) School Improvements Team, Rochdale Council and Rochdale Schools Linking Facilitator: I think that Linking has a key role to play in a recovery curriculum, in helping us find the space where children can be children, where they can have these common shared experiences, where they can explore. Linking is key here. And because it’s so well resourced, TLN supports us with social and emotional wellbeing, thinking about narratives that lift children out of their own situation and helps them walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s thinking about ways in which we can all co-exist with people, and acknowledge those around us without losing ourselves. Longer term, Linking is the future we owe our children.
Rob Unwin, Global Education Adviser at Development Education Centre, Sheffield – Rotherham and Sheffield Schools Linking Facilitator: Everyone knows it’s been a really, really tough time for children from a mental health point of view and wellbeing, and part of that is that their bubbles have become even smaller than the literal bubbles that they’re in. But also their whole outlook on the world in terms of meeting other people and really getting to know other people has had a big set back.
I think Schools Linking is now more important than ever and I think it will help ease the recovery. I think it should almost be like an entitlement for children along with all the extras or catch up sessions and so on. Everyone who’s engaged in it has found it really powerful; there’s a bit of a commitment involved but it pays for itself in spades in terms of what children get back from it, and I just think this should be part of post lockdown Britain for every child.
Afrasiab Anwar, Community Team Leader for Lancashire County Council as part of the School Improvement Service – Burnley Schools Linking Facilitator: The Linking Network gives an opportunity for schools to get to know other schools within their local communities. Schools that, on the surface, would appear very, very different to their own. You might have a school that appears to be predominantly white British, another school that might appear to be predominantly of Asian heritage. The children live in their own communities, attend their own schools. Sometimes they’re isolated from other schools and don’t know as much about other communities. What the schools linking programme allows, is the opportunity for them to learn about one another. It’s where they find out that actually they’re not that different; they have the same hobbies, they have the same interests – lots and lots of similarities come out, but also it’s where they get the opportunity to see the differences.
The expert knowledge, training and resources that TLN give to us equips us to celebrate our difference, rather than looking at differences as negative. Sometimes it’s difficult to measure in terms of the positive impact it has, and sometimes you’ve just got to come see the children interact, to see the way that the two teachers and two classes work with one another. You will see the true impact that school linking has.
I think if we didn’t have linking it would have a negative impact on our communities and on our children because people would be working in isolation. It’s when we don’t know about one another, that suspicions and misconceptions and even hatred can breed. Linking introduces young people to one another, from a young age and provides that process of broadening their horizons. Particularly for some of our schools, it might not be until young people get to college that they might come across somebody who’s different, it might not be until they get to the workplace. By then it’s too late.
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