Newcastle & Gateshead

The Newcastle and Gateshead Linking Programme is led by the education team at The Laing and Shipley Art Gallery on behalf of Newcastle and Gateshead City Councils. The programme began in 2018.

In 2023-2024 there are 8 Links with 16 classes from 11 schools, with 5 Links in Primary and 3 in Secondary Schools.

For further information please contact

Joy Youngman,

Emma Beveridge,

Follow us on X (Twitter) @LaingArtGallery @ShipleyArtGallery

Or take a look at our websites Laing Art Gallery ,  Laing Gallery: Linking Schools  and Shipley Art Gallery, Shipley Gallery:  Linking Schools

‘I’ve had great chats with my kids about the differences between people and even had a child talk about their own disability and how it can make you special and unique. These are chats that come easily when we do the project, and they love it!’ A linking Teacher

The Newcastle and Gateshead Schools Linking Programme is led and facilitated by the Laing Art Gallery, for Newcastle City Council and the Shipley Art Gallery for Gateshead City Council. We launched the programme in the Summer Term 2018 with 14 classes engaging in a summer link supported by The Linking Network and Newcastle City Council;  Gateshead joined us a year later.  There has been a lot of interest and the programme has been well received with local schools. We currently have 16 classes linked, including several Special Schools. We are now excited to be recruiting schools for Linking in 2024-2025, please get in touch if you are interested in joining us!

We host 2 CPD sessions, one in the Autumn Term and one in the Spring Term. These enable the lead teachers to get to know their linking partners as well as have valuable time to plan their linking activities together. After CPD, teachers felt prepared for linking and spoke of the positive effects of linking:  “I think I do have a greater understanding of how to talk to children about controversial or sensitive topics especially through the use of the books or the resources through the website given”

Our usual model of Linking starts before the paired classes meet;  the Laing and Shipley learning team go into the linking schools to deliver assemblies; to talk about friendship, acceptance and making new friends, and to introduce the project to the whole school. In the classroom, classes take part in activities that explore themes around identity and belonging, as well as exchanging postcards, letters and videos with their Linking partners.

We host our neutral venue visits at the Laing and Shipley Art Galleries; taking part in circle games to get to know each other.  Our art activity was focussed on ‘Living Together’ and ‘Our Dream World’; pairs discussed their dream worlds and finding out all the wonderful things they had in common – they then designed and made their own dream world together. These collaborative activities are an important part of the linking process, as they require the children to work together and thereby strengthen the connections established remotely in their classrooms.

During the neutral venue visits, the children have been engaged, developing their analytical skills and looking for clues in the colours used, noticing how portraits can tell us a story, they loved being ‘Art Detectives’ and investigating images that linked to History NC,  exploring what is in the paintings and what those things may mean.  They had lots of fun comparing facial expressions in images too and then enjoyed trying to pull their own!  Afterwards, the children were enthusiastic to begin their project and thought carefully about what clues they could put in their portrait to represent themselves as unique individuals. 

When asked about the colours used in their portraits, a some children referred to the feelings associated with them, as discussed in the workshop. Some portraits were very abstract. Others were true to real life as some children chose to use mirrors to look at themselves during the task.

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