The Calderdale Schools Linking Programme is led by Sarah Hetherington and The Linking Network.  The programme began in 2010. 

In 2022-2023 there were 12 primary links with 24 classes from 16 schools.

For further information please contact

Sarah Hetherington –

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Or take a look at our website Calderdale Museums

Read more about the Calderdale Schools Linking Programme

Our school is very monocultural so opportunities to explore identity and culture that is different to their own can be tricky. This has been excellent for our pupils

Calderdale Schools Linking Programme began in 2010 and has steadily expanded;   engaging nearly 700 children linking from 21 schools in 2019-20, and increasing to 25 schools in 2021-22.   We are now recruiting for Linking in 2022-23, building a sense of togetherness with other children and connecting children to build their confidence in contact with others.

We are hoping that we can return to inviting linking classes to the fabulous Bankfield Museum, Halifax,  to meet their paired class for the first time; the museum provides an accessible, fully facilitated neutral venue.  Our teacher training is also usually held at the museum.  Through the pandemic,  instead of meeting face to face, our linking classes  have viewed a shared online theatre performance, with specially created activities around social action, and shared their ideas through video calls.

Advocate of the programme, Emma Hygate, Prevent Education Officer, had this to say:  ‘I have taken part in the Linking Project and can see the positive impact it has on young people in terms of giving them access to a multi-cultural experience where organically there may otherwise be limited opportunities.  the project…is a place for our younger members of society to learn about other people in a safe and stimulating environment’

When we were able to meet face to face linking, some teachers expressed their surprise at how their SEN pupils engaged with other children: ‘Our SEN children really made connections with other children we were linked with,’  Teacher from Ash Green Primary School.  ‘For one of our children with behavioural issues the project has had a positive impact, the conversations with the other children kept them engaged,’  Teacher from Mount Pellon.

Pupils enjoyed visiting Bankfield Museum: ‘I didn’t think it would have been that much fun’, child from Mount Pellon Academy; and teachers also found many benefits on the day: ‘The enthusiasm of the staff, the organisation of the day really helped our children that were nervous.’  ‘As a school, we are predominately White British so one boy was really excited to have a Muslim partner and kept asking lovely questions to  his partner to find out about his way of life.’  ‘The children from Old Town were very mature and caring towards my class.’   ‘Very enlightening for our children to meet others of a different/no faith and of a completely different cultural background.’  Teacher from Parkinson Lane School.

Stuart Smith, former Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Calderdale Council, said of the programme:

“I can’t think of a time in our cultural history when the Schools Linking Programme could be more important, more beneficial or be more valuable. It seems to me that an enormous effort through social media worldwide is focussed on negative aspects of the differences between peoples … of course we all know that celebrating these differences and identifying our similarities is the real joy of living in a diverse world.  My experience is that when given the opportunity, children more readily identify the things they have in common first and then enjoy noticing their differences … we somehow manage to teach them prejudice at a later stage.  I welcome the work of the Calderdale Schools Linking Programme, it is something every educator should become involved in”

‘So if you are a Governor, Head, teacher or a parent, please explore whether your primary school could get involved with this programme. It seems to me that now more than ever we need to get the concepts of tolerance and respect embedded within the pupils’ understanding as early as possible and this seems to be a fun way to approach the concepts”

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