Led by the Young People Service, which is part of Oldham Council, the Oldham Schools Linking Programme started in 2001 and is a great success. In 2020-21, we are linking virtually; building a sense of togetherness with other children and creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom. Last year we enabled links between 69 primary classes, from 38 primary schools across the authority, engaging an amazing 2,200 pupils. The Schools Linking Network is also a key partner to the Oldham Pledge Initiative in Oldham, ensuring that opportunities are created to develop key character traits for children and young people’s futures.
In 2019-20, when we were still linking face-to-face, the Y3 class at Bare Trees Primary School met up with link partners, Thorp Primary School. The event coincided with the ‘Kick it Out’ week of action at Oldham Athletic AFC, raising awareness nationally about equality in football and was a great experience for all involved.
On another link, twelve children from Greenhill Academy and Mayfield Primary Schools were the most fantastic ambassadors for their respective schools, on their visit to The Mayor’s Chambers; a truly memorable day for both link partners. The day involved school council members from both schools working together developing leadership skills and producing a Linking Project badge.
Greenhill Academy and Mayfield Primary School also met and worked together on ‘How we can Treat our World, People and Animals with Kindness’; linked to the book ‘Here we are’ by Oliver Jeffers.
Richmond Academy had a wonderful time with St Anne’s Primary School.; they visited the church and worked with partners to answer questions about the building and artefacts and also had some boxing coaching!
“The Schools Linking Network reinforces our Vision and Mission statement and underpins our school motto of ‘Working Together’’. Through our effective school link our staff and pupils engage with and learn about other Oldham children, with different cultures, beliefs, lives and experiences. This knowledge and understanding of differences and similarities fully prepares our pupils for life in modern Britain and encourages them to be Citizens of the World”.
Headteacher, Oldham Schools Linking Programme
Case study: St Hilda’s CE Primary and South Failsworth Primary School. The Link between the two schools has been in existence for more than 10 years and is an integral part of the school diary, school ethos and core offered to pupils from both schools. Although only 5 miles apart, the schools and the communities they serve are very different. Their participation and commitment to the Linking project brings them together. Over the years the schools have linked in various forms; Class swaps, joint school visits and trips, shared cultural visits to different places of worship, school council visits to the Mayor’s parlour, council chambers, magistrates court and citizenship ceremonies, leadership conferences for pupils, teacher exchanges and joint CPD opportunities – even joint Governor training
The Link has now been refined into a model which sees intense partnership working with Y2 classes over the entire year; visiting each other’s schools and local communities and taking part in lessons learning together. This is then developed through sharing and responding to cultural theatrical performances together (M6Theatre), as well as visiting local amenities for outdoor learning opportunities, such as the Castleshaw Centre and Alexandra Park. Running parallel to this aspect of the Link is the work of the school council/Pupil Parliament. This involves children of all ages from 6-11 who have been elected to be the pupil voice representatives from both schools. Early in the year they begin a project developing their leadership skills, which is facilitated by Suzy, the Local Authority Lead. The children work firstly on identifying and developing key leadership qualities, and then put their skills to the test by working collaboratively on an enterprise project, such as costing and designing badges or T shirts. The children then take these new skills back to school to be further developed in their own setting or jointly on further projects.
Every year South Failsworth School conducts an extended pupil survey in which a large sample of children from 4 – 11 years of age are asked their views and opinions on a range of issues. It is common for them to cite their experiences with children from St Hilda’s as a significant influence on their understanding of mutual respect, even if it has been a while since direct contact. Dedicating a hall display to our linking project every year and throughout the year, allows children and parents to reflect positively on the range of activities and the opportunities the Programme clearly offers for learning about our friends at St Hilda’s and their community.
“Oldham has a history of segregation and perceived intolerance and cultural misunderstanding. Participation in the school Linking Project demonstrates what is actually being done to bring communities together, with the youngest community members being educated to challenge and knowledgeably respond to these perceptions.” Head Teacher in Oldham.
“I had great fun visiting South Failsworth school. It has a massive playground. My new friends like playing the same games as we do.” A St Hilda’s pupil
Contact: Suzy Ashworth, Young People Services, Oldham Council firstname.lastname@example.org
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