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‘Beyond the School Gates’ Research: The role of Linking in community Integration

25 April, 2024

Tell us about your journey…! 

Five schools in the North West were lucky enough to take part in a live lesson with the Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho and Children’s Illustrator Viviane Schwarz. Together they explored the themes of journeys, community, belonging and friendship – all important aspects of our Schools Linking Programme. The lesson was created by the British Library,The Linking Network and the University of Newcastle. High quality children’s literature has always held an important place in our Schools Linking Programme and recommended books play a key role in the linking process, as the related themes such as identity, belonging and friendship are explored through stories and poetry. This route via books provides an engaging way of encouraging the children to deepen their understanding of these key concepts involved in linking. We therefore jumped at the chance to partner with the British Library to develop the ‘Journeys Live Lesson, aimed at encouraging children to read, write for a purpose and develop their creativity. Schools across the country will be able to access the Journeys session when the British Library’s national campaign goes live later this term. The campaign will have a particular focus on journeys to new places, and the diverse people we meet along the way, exploring themes of migration, community and home.Whether it is a journey to a new home, to school, a journey of self-discovery, or a journey to the stars, this is a brilliant way to stimulate children’s thinking about the many journeys that they may take in their own lives.  To find out more about what else the British Library has to offer schools visit: https://www.bl.uk/learning/  

The Journeys campaign event was just one part of an exciting research project called Beyond the School Gates that we are a partner in. As well as inspiring children’s own story writing, the work produced through ‘Journeys’  will give researchers insight into their perceptions, experiences, and attitudes and how these can contribute to building strong, diverse communities.  Beyond the School Gates is a collaboration between researchers from six universities, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the British Library to explore how children’s experiences of integration and friendship impact on community integration. The findings from this research will be shared with local and national policymakers. 

Preliminary findings are that ‘In our research, schools tended to be cited as the main route through which children’s contribution to community integration could be effectively fostered. This was because schools were sites of day-to-day interaction among children, and even when schools were not themselves diverse, there was a practical opportunity to introduce diversity through exchange programmes such as The Linking Network. page 15, Sakr, M., Haberstroh, C. & Dujczynski, M. (2023) Beyond School Gates: How local policy can enable children’s contribution to community integration.

We will be sure to update you when the full results are published!

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