The Bolton Schools Linking Programme welcomes 11 new schools this year and is 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. The Programme has grown over time since it began in 2013 and this year teachers from 38 different primary schools will lead links between 54.5 classes, so that approximately 1,650 children will meet and work together; building trust, empathy and understanding. The 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.
Some fabulous linking has already taken place between Spindle Point Primary School and Sunning Hill Primary; using potatoes to learn about respecting & valuing our similarities and differences! Everyone had a fabulous time and they are already looking forward to meeting again in May.
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.
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. The two classes have kept in touch and are now looking forward to their next visit together in the summer term. 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.
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.”
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, The Octagon Theatre 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