The Nottinghamshire Schools Linking Programme is led by the Achievement and Equality Team at Nottinghamshire County Council, with support from The Linking Network. It is part of a community of 28 local linking programmes operating across England, supporting schools and their communities to develop a positive, cohesive ethos by exploring identity, celebrating diversity, promoting community and championing equality.
Through a carefully planned and research-led approach, underpinned by Social Contact Theory, we support teachers to facilitate meaningful and positive sustained social mixing. A year-long programme of structured visits for paired classes and curriculum work, equips learners with the skills, confidence and knowledge to thrive in modern Britain. Our training enables teachers to support their learners to develop trust, empathy, awareness and respect.
The Nottinghamshire linking programme launched in 2018, so we are now into our second year. Our teachers came together for CPD training before Christmas and had lots of positive comments to make about both their training and the effect of linking on their pupils:
Some teachers have linked before: I am looking forward to having new pupils taking part in the programme.
CPD was: Informative interesting supportive; I really enjoyed the sessions and (was) given lots of ideas.
(It was) interesting, interactive, fun, as well as informative, detailed and socially useful; (reminding us of...) the power of being different!
The training was: well organised, thought provoking and passionate.
Teachers left with an …understanding of how linking works and (enjoyed) meeting my link partner (plus got new) ideas!
Schools said they became involved because they wanted to widen pupils’ horizons, build pupils’ SMSC & personal development, improve community cohesion/social integration, develop speaking, listening and literacy skills and to build pupils’ confidence. In the 2019/20 academic year there are 16 classes from 11 schools working together to link a fabulous 450 children. We are always keen to meet the Nottinghamshire teachers on training and hear of the exciting experiences the children are having when they meet.
Jesse Gray School and Sir Edmund Hillary were thrilled to get together for the first time; they had great fun making Fimo models of themselves, made a stop motion film and created their own city using features from both places!
The children will have class visits to both schools, where they will experience being hosts and guests, by turn. Great care is taken in structuring these visits, including reflection time, to unpack learning and experiences. Through-out the linking year, ongoing curriculum work on the themes of identity, diversity, community and equality is exchanged. Opportunities for dialogue, critical reflection and positive attitudinal development are encouraged.
A wealth of evaluation studies consistently shows the value of the work, for example: ‘TLN schools linking enables children and young people to explore identity, celebrate diversity, build community and champion equality through the development of mutual understanding, critical awareness and openness, empathy, respect for difference and active citizenship’ Shannahan, CPTSR, Coventry University, Schools Linking and Social Cohesion- An Evaluation of the National Programme 2018
We look forward to up-dating you further on Nottinghamshire linking as the year progresses!
Koni Rakhit, Achievement and Equality Team, Nottingham County Council –Koni.Rakhit@nottscc.gov.uk