Social Action in Schools Linking Classrooms

25/11/2021

If you’ve spent any time on social media this week, you’ll hopefully have noticed that it’s iwill week. Each year, the iwill campaign has a week when the achievements of young people around the country engaged in social action are celebrated. 

In our work with primary schools, we describe social action as using our words and actions in a positive way to create change in the community we live in or the wider world.  Those of us who have spent time with children know how keen children are to get stuck in and create change when they see a problem. We wanted to respond to this enthusiasm in our Primary Schools Linking programme and create space for children to learn a new skill which can create meaningful connection between the pairs of linking classes. We chose Sign Supported English as one shared learning experience. Throughout the linking programme the children are able to learn the basics of communicating, such as greetings and telling someone their name.

Our Schools Linking programmes are rooted in Social Contact Theory and our collaboration with our researcher in residence, Dr Lindsey Cameron, ensures that our linking work is developed around creating meaningful interactions, collaborative activity and shared goals – all of which are key to successful and effective linking work which creates lasting impact.

Using the shared learning experience of Sign Supported English is a great way of creating the conditions in which children can communicate and share with others different to themselves, in an enjoyable and positive way.

We’ve been so pleased with the responses from schools since the introduction of this new skill into the linking work. This brief video clip (you can watch without audio) shows pupils learning how to tell someone their name using the resources https://vimeo.com/649638311

This lovely video shared on Twitter by a linking school preparing to meet with their link class for the first time, shows how hard the children have worked and well they are using their new skill (it’s around 1min long and is at it’s best with audio) https://twitter.com/Brimrod_Primary/status/1455264322372919307?s=20

We hope that the confidence the children have in being able to communicate with others, regardless of barriers, will stay with them. We know how important this is, as demonstrated by the huge increase in interest from the public to learn British Sign Language following the success of Rose Ayling-Ellis, a profoundly deaf actor, as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. On a recent episode even one of the judges, Cynthia Erivo, used some BSL to give her comments on the performance!

We hope that by including Sign Supported English this year, our linking schools are giving children a skill they’ll use again, but also the opportunity to develop their empathy, communication skills, tackle inequality and strive for better inclusion for all – now that’s a social action we can all be proud of!

If you’d like to know more about our Primary Schools Linking programme then have a look at our website or get in touch https://thelinkingnetwork.org.uk

To learn more about iwill week and see some of the inspiring actions young people are engaged in across the country have a look at the website or on social media https://www.iwill.org.uk/