The Derby Schools Linking Programme was launched in 2017 by Global Education Derby, a small Development Education Centre with expertise in local and international linking. Working closely with another friendly local charity, The Open Centre, we recruited 16 enthusiastic classes to participate. In 2019/20 there are 18 classes engaged in the programme, linking over 500 primary children, including one special school, and 2 secondary schools. We are particularly pleased that five of our links have continued from last year, even though there has been a change of staff in many cases. Recruitment was aided by teachers telling their family and friends about the project and by informal marketing at our training events. We also paired up two infant classes (Year 1 and Year 2) who were keen to give it a go.
We facilitate our own neutral venue events at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, in partnership with The Open Centre and Derby County Community Trust. This gives us hands on experience, working directly with the students and teachers, allowing us to get to know them all in greater depth.
Our neutral venue days follow a tried and tested formula with some whole group games and chat followed by a carousel of mixed class activities. Our aim is to make the day as inclusive, interactive and flexible as we can. This year we augmented the ever popular identity badges and stadium tour with new activities, focusing on how we are all connected with each other and with the world around us.
A new development for our project has been a link involving alternative provision students from Kingsmead School and William Allitt School. These groups have followed a specific programme, unpicking the power of social media to influence values and attitudes. The children have been working on creating their own animations and will be joining together for a celebration screening event in June. This is a pilot project with initial workshops funded by Institute for Strategic Dialogue/Google Innovation Fund.
KS2 Case study: Darley Dale Primary School, Derbyshire (Y5) and St Giles (Special) School, Derby The first meeting between the children at Darley Dale Primary School and St Giles School was held at Pride Park Stadium. The programme was adapted to ensure that all children could achieve and develop their skills within each activity. The Headteacher of Darley Dale thought this adaption was particularly helpful for the children who attend Darley Dale as this showed them a range of differing needs other children may have, even though they were of a similar age.
The final link day took place at St Giles’ School where the successes of the Programme really began to stand out. Over the course of the year the children developed empathy and understanding of similarities and differences; we saw evidence of this: when the children were playing on the playground together – many of the Darley Dale children adapted their games so that the children of St Giles could join in easily. The class teacher of Darley Dale was particularly impressed with how her children had deepened their understanding of diversity and was keen for them to rejoin the Programme for the following year.
Both schools felt that the partnership had been successful and as a result wanted to host an additional activity day, such as a picnic, at a location between both schools.
A Darley Dale staff member was heard to say “This is the best thing we have ever done!”; the partnership will be continuing.
Case study : Lawn Primary School (Y3) with Akaal Primary School (Y3 – Sikh School)
Both of these schools are Derby City Schools though they have some obvious differences; they are housed in very different buildings (Akaal is on a temporary site with very little outside space and is a fairly new school); Akaal is a faith school; Lawn is a larger, mixed and more diversely populated school, based in a more affluent suburb.
From the first link day at Pride Park Stadium, the Lawn and Akaal children immediately ‘hit it off’. This was a sign that the children had been sufficiently prepped for the meeting. They were the first school partnership where the children choose to eat their lunches together in the ‘neutral’ space, rather than their dedicated zones, indicating an eagerness build relationships with children from the other school.
The schools continued to communicate in between visits, sharing videos, pieces of work and rehearsing stories and games in preparation for the next meeting.
For the school to school visit days, both schools showcased their building through treasure hunts and a wide range of varied activities. When Lawn Primary visited Akaal Primary, the children of Akaal were very eager to share their faith with their visitors. Enthusiastically teaching the Lawn children about the 5ks, through an interactive talk and using the Sikh bear in their class. The children also were excited to take Lawn Primary to their Gurdwara adjoining the school building and were happy to show them how they pray and what happens inside this special building for Sikh people.
Lawn Primary had two classes taking part in the linking project last year, each class linked to a different school. This was the first school to link successfully with more than one partner and was supported by a high level of commitment towards the Programme and excellent communication skills. They have embedded activity within the Year 3 curriculum, particularly in ICT.
The class link with Akaal Primary has been recognized as mutually beneficial to children from both schools. The intention from the senior leadership in both schools is to continue the programme in Year 3, training up new staff to lead on linking with their classes where necessary.
Our CPD afternoons were productive once more and plenty of ideas were generated for joint class work and linking day activities. The resources from TLN were well used and popular once more.
On our visit to the linking day held at Ashbourne Hill Top School the teaching assistants led high quality learning activities throughout the day. It was great to see how the whole school community was engaged with the project and how the key CPD messages had been shared across the school staff.
Great fun was had in a Forest Schools morning with children working in mixed groups to build and light fires with twigs and cotton wool. Very exciting!
Painting stones, inspired by the Only One You story book, proved popular. The idea is that children will leave their stone somewhere during the Summer holiday, with the hope that a photograph of it will be posted to the school Facebook page by whoever finds it. New games were also learnt such as “Rat and Mouse” and “Catch the dragons tail” which further developed communication and cooperation skills; all in all a fabulous time had by everyone.
Some quotes from pupils after meeting their linking partners and taking part in activities together: “I enjoyed making the badges and it feels nice.”, “I like it when I meet new friends.”, “It’s really fun here.”, “It’s been a really nice day. Have had good opportunity to get to know some new people.”
Contact: Yvonne Luce, Global Education Derby firstname.lastname@example.org
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