The Bolton Schools Linking Programme is led and hosted by the Achievement Cohesion & Integration Service (ACIS), Bolton Council, with support from The Linking Network. ACIS supports children and young people who are new to Bolton to access education and see linking as a crucial contribution to their work. The Programme has grown over time, since it began in 2013. In the 2019/20 academic year, teachers from 29 different primary schools are leading links between 44 classes, so that approximately 1,200 children will meet and work together; building trust, empathy and understanding. We welcome 3 new schools this year and we are interested in running more parent linking events and looking at ways to involve secondary schools. New and established staff are genuinely excited to be involved, finding significant benefits to all in the chance to engage with people from different backgrounds.
Case Study: Spindle Point Primary School linking with Sunning Hill Primary School
The schools linking project is well established within our schools but every year it amazes us with the impact it has on all participants. The questions the children have before they meet are the ones we expect, but it is lovely to see how these stereotypical thoughts are very soon overcome by all children and they very quickly become best of friends with many common interests discovered. They cannot wait to meet up or have contact again with their new friends. It is a very inspiring and heart-warming project to be a part of. The project as a whole helps to embed our SMSC curriculum and develop the children’s understanding of what British Values looks like in everyday life, which is key to creating communities who can live happily and successfully together in the one world in which we all love.
It was also wonderful to hear that the Y3 children at St Thomas CE Primary and St Paul’s CE Primary School had a fantastic time on their first meeting. These schools are both new to the programme this year, so a huge thank you to all staff and children for making the day so successful.
St. Thomas’ Halliwell Primary School Case Study
One established school link is between St. Thomas C of E Primary School, Halliwell and St. Brendan’s RC Primary School. The classes involved in this link are Year 3. The two classes met for the first time during the Autumn term at Bolton Museum where they participated in a variety of activities in the Nature Gallery and Aquarium areas of the Museum. This included communication and teamwork activities led by museum educators. On the 25th April St Brendan’s came to visit our school. Once again the children enjoyed meeting up with their friends and together they enjoyed a visit to a local mosque and art activities.
One of the teachers from St. Thomas, Halliwell commented on the link experience:
“We have met St. Brendan’s twice now. Our neutral visit was at Bolton Museum. Their coach collected us en route and the children got to meet their new friends straight away. The venue was excellent and all the children enjoyed participating in the various activities that they provided.
Here are some comments from the children:
Imogen“I have enjoyed meeting new friends especially Lila.”
Muhammad Azeem “I have had the opportunity to meet with other people I have never met before and share my interests with them.”
Malaika“It was great to play with new people.”
There is clear recognition from teachers and schools that this work is highly important, as these children are the future of a cohesive and successful Bolton. A wide range of providers including Bolton College, Bolton Museum, Bolton Arena, The Hive at Moss Bank Park, The Turnpike Gallery, Leigh and Bolton Lads and Girls Club in Bolton, support the Bolton Schools Linking Programme by hosting first meetings of the classes linking in a neutral space. An exciting development last year was Bolton’s first parent linking, whereby parents from Kearsley West Primary and St Andrews Primary joined their children in a visit to an adventure park in Bolton. As well as all the fun activities, there was food and refreshments for the children, staff and parents. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities for parent linking in the future.
Yousif Islam firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicola Mahon email@example.com
ACIS (Achievement, Cohesion and Integration Service), Bolton Council