Comments about Schools Linking from the Network Day

Yvette Thomas, Facilitator in Buckinghamshire

Toby Haworth, Bishop of Bradford

Bridget McGing, Pears Foundation

Hilary Patel, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Endorsements of Schools Linking

‘Given the relatively low cost of TLN schools linking it has become clear that it provides excellent value for money and a highly effective means of building cross-cultural understanding, ethical citizenship and inclusive models of social cohesion.’ P46

‘Contemporary schools linking relates to far more than ethnicity and seeks to foster dialogue and greater mutual understanding around a wider cluster of expressions of difference, including faith/belief, social class and urban, suburban and rural communities.’ p11

‘One of the defining features of TLN’s model of schools linking is that it is thoroughly informed by practice.’ p15

‘It has become clear during the evaluation that TLN schools linking has had a significant positive impact on pupils, teachers, schools, local linking programmes, the development of new partnerships, community relations and local authorities since its establishment in 2016. It has enabled schools to improve achievement levels and meet their Ofsted responsibilities in relation to SMSC, ‘British’ values and Prevent obligations.’ p46

‘The TLN staff team act as a hub at the centre of a dispersed linking network, which exists to enable and resource the organic and contextualised growth of locally appropriate linking,’ p11

‘The Linking Network is an increasingly respected partner in current debates about diversity, integration and social cohesion amongst policy-makers and academics.’

‘the track-record of The Linking Network as a pioneering approach to building social cohesion through schools linking has been recognised by national think-tanks and policy institutes.’

‘[TLN’s] originality and success rest on its relational, democratic and networked approach.’

‘This action/reflection model of schools linking has the potential to contribute substantially to the professional development of school teachers.’

‘Schools become involved in linking because they see it as part of their moral compass.’ p46

It can be concluded that The Linking Network’s National Schools Linking Programme is a highly effective initiative, which has shown its ability to foster greater self-understanding, critical thinking, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and understanding, empathy and mutual respect amongst the 17,575 pupils who participate in the programme. TLN schools linking provides teachers with a tried and tested means of addressing key issues in SMSC, exploring citizenship, reflecting on ‘British’ values in an inclusive way and modelling future citizens.’                                                                                                 Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations, Coventry University Evaluation of Schools Linking


“I have been challenged today… the stereotypes I hold have been destroyed”     “Socialise before you criticise”          Bradford Schools Linking students 2018      More student quotes


‘Many schools in Oldham have been really positive about this years linking opportunities and there has been a lot of excitement towards the plan. They are really impressed and pleased about the amount of opportunities that they can access that brings togetherness without meeting face to face and that more year groups can get involved and are not limited because of cost and budgets. They are also really pleased with the  programme and how it supports other curriculum areas.  They would like to thank the Linking Network for their hard work, commitment and support during this unprecedented situation and for creating some wonderful opportunities.’   Suzy Ashworth, Oldham’s facilitator, October 2020


“I believe the experience of schools linking expands children’s horizons, builds confidence and self esteem, interest in and respect for ‘the other’ and strengthens delivery of key aspects of the curriculum. Schools linking will remain an important part of our work on not just community cohesion but on developing the next generation of proud Bradfordians.”            Kersten England, Chief Executive, Bradford Council


 “Linking has had an impact on my whole school, it is part of our ethos. It has changed our school over time since we began linking in 2001.”        Janice Kershaw Headteacher, Eldwick Primary, 2018


 “The curriculum is broad and balanced. It offers pupils the chance to learn about and understand different faiths and cultures. For example, Year 3 pupils engage in a project which links them to another school in Bradford where there is much greater ethnic diversity. Pupils report that they love this project and have kept in touch with their partners over many months and years”      Ofsted Inspection October 2018, Eldwick Primary


“Many thanks to The Linking Network for their dedication, commitment and continuing hard work and to the Pears Foundation, the DfE and DCLG for recognising the need for this project in the present climate and enabling our service and others across the country to make a real difference to the lives of so many children and young people.”                             Gillie Heath, Manager, Inclusion Support Service, Kent Local Authority, 2018


“I would recommend it to other Heads as I think that it provides a great opportunity for children to engage & interact with pupils in a very different school setting. The pupils at Beckfoot Allerton talk very fondly (during the year and in subsequent years) of their involvement in the project and the friends they made. Also the resources used alongside the project are great from a PSHCE/developing a stronger sense of self point of view.”    Kate Horton, Bradford Headteacher 2018


“Pupils love being part of the School Linking experience. The experience is much more than the link days – though these are definitely a highlight. The work leading up to and following these days develop a range of skills in children (empathy, critical thinking, reflection, and communication) which allow them to build relationships with new people. ‘Big Ideas’ related to SMSC and British Values are explored in the classroom through thoughtful texts and resources so children develop a positive attitude towards their own identity, diversity, equality and community.  

The resources provided are very high quality and have been used with real children in real schools. These can be used as part of the English curriculum as well as PSHCE. This integrated approach means teachers can give children quality time and focus on developing the children’s skills.  The CPD gives teachers a deep understanding of SMSC  and how it can be developed throughout the whole curriculum rather than as standalone area.

The school linking programme supports all aspects of children’s SMSC development and  promotes particularly the British Value of tolerance and respect. It also contributes to the wider PSHCE curriculum. As part of the link we also bring in aspects of local geography when comparing the two schools and have produced outcomes for Art. In the past children have also used technology to strengthen the link between link days and to produce shared outcomes.                                        Kerri O’Brien, Curriculum Lead

Quotes about Linking from Past Reports

Linking creates opportunity for children to engage with pupils from a completely background.  Under our commitment to and responsibility for Community Cohesion, we believe Schools Linking provides our local schools with a fantastic opportunity to forge new friendships and champion equality, whilst challenging ignorance and intolerance. We believe this project plays a part in contributing to good relations locally. For primary schools in particular, we know how relevant this project is to the curriculum and therefore how easily staff see it fitting in to their planning.   Bolton Council.


Being involved with the programme is a very clear statement of commitment to British Values and evidence of an outward facing schools. It is also an enriching experience for pupils and helps prepare for transition to secondary school/life outside school. It creates opportunity for children and young people to experience meeting and getting to others from outside their own school community and this supports their development and learning. It is a vehicle for supporting the equalities, diversity and community cohesion agenda. It supports anti-discrimination practice It builds bridges between schools especially in rural areas and our urban areas. It supports teaching and learning. It builds confidence of children from deprived socio-economic backgrounds.   Buckinghamshire County Council.


Enabling children to explore their own identity, experience diversity and develop social skills in a safe space. Potential to enrich curriculum and promote an inclusive school ethos. We consider local linking is essential to build understanding between communities and stretch the experience and skills of school staff and students alike.  Derby Development Education Centre.


We deliver schools linking topromote social integration. It is a curriculum response to prevent FGM, radicalisation, forced marriage, gangs and hate crime.    Training, resources and support is free. It is important that it is a nationally run programme endorsed by DfE and MHCLG. Resources available on website that fit into the curriculum.     Schools Linking approach to social integration supported by the Government in the ‘Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper Summary’ of consultation responses and Government response February 2019


In Kent we remain committed to the programme and see it as a way to break down barriers between people and communities and ensure children and young people, our citizens of the future, are more ready to socially interact with, accept and respect themselves and others. At the present time with the increase in racist incidents and hate crime, radicalisation of young people, the rise in knife crime and gangs it is essential that children and young people learn these skills. We consider this is a vital part of our offer. The Inclusion Support Service Kent are indebted to the sponsors The DfE, MHCLG and The Pears Foundation which enable us to continue to offer this to schools who would otherwise find the cost of training prohibitive.   Kent County Council

We deliver schools linking to encourage pupils to embrace and take a healthy and generous interest in the joys and complexities of difference and diversity wherever they find it; at home, at school, in the wider world. The programme creates meaningful and positive encounters with others who are perceived as different. The LA recognises he excellent work which is taking place through School Linking. Senior Officers have seen some of the outcomes from the work which has taken place when they attended the finale when over 500children and 150 adults shared presentations with other children and staff. The cost to the LA for supporting this work is minimal when compared to the outcomes which are achieved through what takes place.   Kirklees Local Authority


We deliver the programme to challenge stereotypes/prejudices. We know a simple act of interaction can make a huge change to the mindset of those involved.      Leicester St Philip’s Centre 


Linking is firmly rooted in the curriculum, creates meaningful interaction and offers wonderful resources made by teachers, for teachers. We have done this programme for 10 years now and trust TLN. We know the resources and CPD benefit the staff, school and pupils. We also know that it is imperative for children in our area to learn to live together and enjoy being part of a society that is not always the same as themselves. We feel it is credible, well resourced, tried over time, constantly evolving to meet new demands and it is a programme that puts children at the heart.    Stockport Council leading the programme for Stockport, Manchester 


The programme combines curriculum support with opportunities for enrichment through community cohesion and social integration. Linking offers the opportunity to support schools both within and beyond the curriculum. Opportunities to explore the four key questions of linking help to promote an ethos and approach we feel is key to the successful development of children. We are ALL better together.  Rochdale Council. 


The programme supports us to widen horizons and develop a sense of belonging. This is particularly important for Tower Hamlets schools as many of the schools are virtually mono-cultural. This work has enhanced our offer to schools. It helps us address key issues regarding cohesion and positive social mixing across the authority.    Tower Hamlets Humanities Education Centre


Teacher comments on the impact of schools linking on their pupils


“This has been the year where the Linking Project has had the most significant impact on my class. My class have formed strong bonds with the children at our link school. Many of the children have grown in confidence throughout the year and I feel that the Linking Project has played its part in that.”


“It has made my children more aware of the wider area and the people that live around them. They have become very open to meeting new people from different backgrounds and have shown a great respect for the children they have interacted with. For some children the activities and trips chosen have pushed them out of their comfort zone and they have taken on challenges they previously wouldn’t have done. They have gained confidence in themselves because of these challenges.”


“The children are more careful about stereotyping and that it’s more important about what you are like inside rather than outside.”


“The children had the opportunity to meet children with complete different cultures and backgrounds and this was good for them. They were very anxious before the first encounter but afterwards they were nothing but excited. It helped them see past skin colour. “


“My class have mixed with a much wider range of children than they are used to. Meeting children from a range of ethnic backgrounds has instigated a lot of discussion about similarities and differences. The children have felt able to talk openly about skin colour and a range of religions. This has brought a lot of questions ‘out into the open’ that the children may not have had the confidence to ask, if they hadn’t been given these opportunities.”


The Schools Linking Programme provides a coherent structure and resources for promoting a positive school ethos by helping our children explore their identity, celebrate their diversity and develop a meaningful dialogue with other children in Stockport. This was recognised by Ofsted in our recent inspection in February 2017.   David Marshall,  Headteacher of Cale Green Primary School,  Stockport.


Saved me lots of time as the resources and ideas fitted perfectly within our linking work. I look forward to continuing the training next year.   Primary School Teacher, Bolton


Comments about SMSC Training 


The reason we chose TLN as a provider was because we heard excellent feedback from another Oldham Head, who had attended the SMSC development workshop previously. We definitely were not disappointed. We have run the programme twice. Each workshop has reached maximum capacity and feedback has been excellent regarding both delivery and resources. It is the first time ever on the evaluation form that we have had two participants scoring 5+! We will definitely be using TLN again.   Teaching School Strategic Lead, Schools with Schools, Kingfisher Community Special School


Another thought-provoking training session from TLN, a good balance of activities, anecdotes, resources and Ofsted information.   Local Authority Advisor, Stockport


Have gained huge knowledge in how to support a school to develop SMSC within all areas of school life.   Local Authority Advisor, Milton Keynes


This is one of the best courses that I have attended in a long time! The resources are most valuable and the presentation was excellent! Time flew! Headteacher, Secondary School, London


The course was fantastic. It gave me, a non-teacher, a really good understanding of SMSC development.   Director, Head Up CIC


Previously unsure what our SMSC development requirements were but now clear and inspired to start embedding this learning into lessons.    Education and Skills Manager, Bradford YMCA


A great confidence builder and really good for looking at new emphasis in Ofsted terms but also clear connections with other agendas.   Local Authority Advisor, Derby


A wealth of information and advice on how to put SMSC into practice.   Teacher of Religious Studies, Secondary School, Leicester


Brilliant for preparing for Ofsted, everything addressed. Best course I have ever attended!   Primary School Teacher, Gloucestershire

The best course I have attended in a very long time – really useful and lots of ideas and resources to take away.   Headteacher, Primary School, Gloucestershire 


Superb resources and explanations from tutors.   Co-ordinator of English, Secondary School, Wakefield


Thanks to the content of this course staff will have a greater understanding of what SMSC looks like, and have practical ideas to support it in lessons.   Sue Hobson, Feversham Primary, Bradford


You have given me lots of ideas and re-energised me to lead the school forward on this area.  Dan Burns, Headteacher, Oxenhope Primary School, Keighley


A really good day. Broad range of activities. Current and up-to-date information and guidance. Felt able and confident enough to ask questions. A brilliant, informative and empowering day.  Sarah Burton, Wibsey Primary School, Bradford


We will now be able to celebrate what we are already doing for SMSC and identify gaps together.  June Cooke, Headteacher, Ightham Primary School, Kent


This course will enable me to support others to develop their understanding of SMSC.   Jodie Palmer, Holmbush Primary School, West Sussex


This course will have an impact on whole school through helping with CPD and sharing with staff the importance of SMSC to school life. Thought-provoking, useful and detailed.   Jayne Bradley, Fairfield Park Lower School, Hertfordshire


All aspects of the day were well organised and structured, there was a good balance of theory and activity.  Jenny Stone, Headteacher, Fairfield Park Lower School, Hertfordshire


Thinking about SMSC? Think no further. This course met all our Worth Valley Learning Network objectives. Informative, practical, high-quality, tried-and-tested resources rooted in the classroom get you ready for that Ofsted!   Janet Parkinson, Headteacher and Chair of Worth Valley Learning Network


The most useful piece of training I’ve been on for a long time because you are speaking from practical experience.   Anna Longhawn, Fieldhead Carr Primary, Leeds


This course has given me a clear idea of where I need to go next. I now feel clear on Ofsted expectations. Encouraging knowing I am on the right lines and now feeling more able to prioritise.  Martha Fairclough, Bedford High School 


Put my mind to rest! Great to come away from a course feeling we are already doing OK but comfortable in how to move forward.  Pippa Langston, The King’s School, Pontefract


I have a clear understanding of SMSC and how this fits in with the changes to Ofsted inspections. I also feel confident to drive SMSC within the school in the future.  Steve Banks, The King’s School, Pontefract


So much fantastic information that I just want to go back to school now and share the whole day with staff. They made such a scary element of the Ofsted framework an exciting adventure.   Halina Rooney, Sudbury Primary School, Brent


Far beyond expectations – thank you so much. I feel overwhelmed but inspired by the impact SMSC can have on our children and school.   Babita Khialani, Portway Primay School, Newham 


Good foundations set at the start of the day, with lots of useful examples and really helpful practical activities. Great to be able to take frameworks, books and resources away.Liz Bowes, Outreach Coordinator, NEAD, Norfolk 


The staff knowledge is amazing and the session covered everything using a variety of activities and information. The resources were excellent and ongoing support was offered. This has been the best CPD I have ever attended!   Rachel Williams, The Academy, Selsey 


I would like to reiterate what I said on the day. Absolutely brilliant course run by two exceptionally enthusiastic, knowledgeable individuals. I’m pretty modest in my praise most of the time but it was terrific!!!   Patrick Barrett, The Eastwood Academy, Leigh-on-Sea


I would just like to thank you for running this course. It was absolutely outstanding, and the information surpassed all of our expectations. It was extremely well delivered, and the information packs and handouts will be very useful in delivering effective insets in school. I was particularly impressed at how both the presenters shared real-life experiences (and not squirreled them away so that their own schools look good) and the amount of knowledge and understanding they both shared on SMSC. I came away confident in presenting an inset in school myself.   Halina Rooney, Sudbury Primary School, Brent