Evaluations of Schools Linking

We are delighted that  Dr Lindsey Cameron, Senior Lecturer, Psychology Department, Kent University is working with The Linking Network as researcher in residence to provide us with research insights into our work.

Chris Shannahan from the Centre Peace, Trust and Social Relations, Coventry University was commisisoned by MHCLG to conduct this evaluation of the National Schools Linking Programme.

The National Foundation Educational Research (NFER) evaluated the expansion of Schools Linking nationally. The evaluation was published in 2011.


  • Linking Evaluation 2009  This evaluation considered the Bradford Schools Linking programme as it had evolved and was being adopted in other local authority areas.
  • Evaluation 2006   This evaluation was of the impact of Bradford Schools Linking Programme and was led by Anni Raw.





Dr Cameron is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and is an expert in the development of prejudice and stereotyping in children. She has twenty years of experience in the design and evaluation of prejudice-reduction interventions for use in schools, with particular expertise in inter-group contact theory. She has attracted funding for her research from the Big Lottery, Oxfam, Economic and Social Research Council, DfID, NHS.

She is passionate about bringing psychology to the wider world and achieves this through organising public engagement events, collaborations with national charities such as One Globe Kids and People United, as well as through action research with local schools. She is currently running a project on bullying in schools with the British Orthodontic Society and leads the annual Identity and Belonging educational challenges conference in partnership with the Kent Educational Psychology Service. The theme for this year’s event is Young People and Social Media.

More information on Dr Cameron and her research can be found below:


Researcher in Residence

As Researcher in Residence, Dr Cameron helps embed evidence-based practice and robust research methodology in the organisation and develop the research capabilities of members of staff.

In summary, Dr Cameron will work with The Linking Network identify critical points at which research can be used to evaluate the impact of key activities, develop and share methods of evaluation, and create research resources, deliver presentations or training and provide guidance and knowledge as and when required.  The Residency could also lead to externally funded research projects or joint academic publications and other revenue generation activities such as training or consultancy.

As Researcher in Residence, Dr Cameron will also develop further the link between the University of Kent and the Linking Network, providing access to resources such as voluntary student researchers, hosting joint events on campus and accessing expert advice from University on external funding opportunities.

To read more from Lindsey please see this note on

Research underpinning the linking process July 2019

Dr Lindsey Cameron

Extracts from Evaluations of Schools Linking process.

‘Social Contact Theory underpins the design of the Schools Linking programme and is embedded in the teacher training and the guidance for the programme. The intergroup contact hypothesis  was proposed by Allport (1954) and further research has confirmed the importance of contact in reducing prejudice providing key conditions are in place. The process moves ‘Us vs. Them’ to a more inclusive ‘We’. Care is needed as contact can have a negative impact if key conditions are not in place. ‘Conversely, lack of positive contact, or contact which is negative, can increase the likelihood of prejudice.’ (Ray, Sharp and Abrams, 2006:6-7). Researchers have found that there can be problems with getting a more prejudiced individual into the contact situation in the first place. In schools we don’t have this challenge as everyone is present.

Positive effects of intergroup contact occur in contact situations which have the following key conditions:

  • meaningful interaction between individuals,
  • equal status,
  • intergroup cooperation,
  • common goals,
  • support by social and institutional authorities.

‘TLN’s use of Contract Theory is tailored to the schools linking context and serves as a useful, and respected, theoretical underpinning of their work.’(Shannahan, CTPRS Evaluation 2018)

Ref: Schools Linking and Social Cohesion, An Evaluation of The Linking Network’s Schools Linking National Programme, Chris Shannahan, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, July 2018


Evaluations of The Linking Network linking show that the linking model can achieve powerful impact where pupils gain:

  • Increased respect for others, self-confidence, self-efficacy
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of complex issues and willingness to voice opinions and listen to others
  • School linking can have a positive impact on many aspects of pupils’ skills, attitudes, perceptions and behaviours, particularly their respect for others, their self-confidence and their self-efficacy, as well as broadening the social groups with whom pupils interact.

Key Findings

  • The key determinant of the impact and outcomes of school linking for pupils is the intensity of the school linking experience. Linking had the greatest positive impact when the children at the linked schools met two or more times a year.
  • School linking can have a positive impact on many aspects of pupil’s skills, attitudes, perceptions and behaviours, particularly their respect for others, their self-confidence and their self-efficacy.
  • LAs have a critical role to play in supporting the  programme in schools through partnership working with schools at local level.
  • School and LA staff also benefit from the programme in terms of CPD, opportunities for self reflection and learning about their pupils.
  • The majority of schools and LAs who took part in the programme planned to continue their involvement.
  • The programme was considered to be highly cost effective in relation to the impacts and outcomes it achieved.
  • The sustainability of school linking is improved where conscious attempts are made to embed the learning across the school curriculum.

Evaluation of the Schools Linking Network: Final Report, NFER, March 2011[7]

Ref: Kerr, D. et al. (2011) Evaluation of the schools linking network: Final report, Research report DFE-RR090, National Foundation for Educational research. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/182402/DFE-RR090.pdf


The Casey review conducted by the government in 2016  states that ‘There is strong evidence around the benefits that can derive from high levels of meaningful contact between people from different backgrounds’(5) .

Analysis of the academic evidence base and a number of case studies conducted for the review suggests that social mixing can:

  • reduce prejudice;
  • .  increase trust and understanding between groups (with a knock-on effect that allows negative perceptions of other groups to be challenged);
  • lead to a greater sense of togetherness and common ground; and
  • promote resilience to extremist ideologies and provide a challenge to dangerous world views.

Whereas, a lack of mixing can:

  • reinforce ethnic segregation, even in diverse areas; and
  • increase community tensions and risk of conflict.’


Ref: The Casey Review of opportunity and Integration (DCLG:2016)


Papers about Schools Linking

‘If you could do one thing’ British Academy Essay: 10 local actions to promote social integration. TLN contributed essay 5  https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/British%20Academy%20IYCDOT%20Essays.pdf


Promoting Ethnic and Religious Integration In Schools: A Review of Evidence

This review was commissioned by the DfE and undertaken by NIESR and references Schools Linking and also the resources Schools Linking provides for classroom use



RE and good community relations:
What can RE learn from social psychology? A Toolkit for Teachers of RE

TLN spoke to the authors of this really helpful toolkit which outlines Social Contact Theory – TLN work is featured on page 10 on https://www.natre.org.uk/uploads/Additional%20Documents/The%20Shared%20Space%20Folder/teachers%20toolkit%20final%20April%202018.pdf