This year the Birmingham Schools Linking Programme has involved 30 classes in 23 schools with 910 students linking. The 23 schools included of 15 Primary and 8 Secondary schools and a mix of 4 non-denominational and 19 faith ethos schools. During the year we have trained 30 teachers to deliver the programme through 3 CPD training dates.
Birmingham is a brilliantly diverse city. The linking programme has provided an ideal platform for students across the city to celebrate this. It has given them the opportunity and confidence to explore and celebrate their own identities and the identities of their peers in different schools across the city. The programme has also given students the opportunities to break down barriers and misconceptions through the model of sustained encounters and engaging in opportunities for dialogue.
We have been able to build up some really good relationships that have supported neutral venue visits. This has added huge value to the experience of the students. Venues include; West Bromwich Albion Football Club (Hawthorns), Botanical Gardens, Selly Manor, Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Lighthouse Youth Centre.
Each of our 3 CPD training dates have been delivered at Thinktank Science Museum in Birmingham. This has been a fantastic location for training.
Overall the Linking Programme we feel our has been a great success this year. Some schools have struggled to fit in Link days due to exams and other commitments but are catching up in the summer term. This has made us reflect on our model and will move to 2 training dates next year (October and February). We hope this will give plenty of opportunity for schools to plan link days well in advance again busier periods.
We have seen, heard and received some really positive comments and stories from teachers about the positive effect this programme has had on their students. Early conversations suggest that there will be a high retention rate of schools returning to the programme next academic year.
‘I thought the training was fantastic and has really given me the confidence to deliver the day. All of the activities have given me an opportunities to develop a relationship with my link partner’ Linking Teacher
‘’A well organised day which provided super opportunities to meet teachers from other link schools and plan and discuss ideas together’’ Linking Teacher
‘I have been incredibly encouraged by the passion and commitment of teachers and SLT in the schools that we are working with. In the backdrop of a busy education system that leaves little space at times for creative projects and character development it would be easy to allow projects like this to slip to the bottom of the priority list. In the most part however this has not been the case and it has been a privilege to work with teachers and SLT who see the huge value in this programme and are able to make it work despite the inevitable challenges of being a teacher.’ Rich Pringle
Rich Pringle, Programmes Coordinator – West Midlands, The Faith & Belief Forum