Rochdale Schools Linking Project is led by the Equalities Team (Rochdale Borough Council) and has been running since 2017. Initially involving 14 classes from 12 schools, the programme has expanded to include 30 classes in 2019/20, engaging approximately 860 children from 25 local schools. In 2021-22, we are still linking; building a sense of togetherness with other children and creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom. Also, as we are unable to physically link at the moment, we have put together a bank of useful websites with home learning ideas and online safety guidelines, for you to access on our Home School Heroes page, please take a look!
We are lucky enough to work with the fabulous M6 Theatre. Based in Rochdale, M6 Theatre is one of Britain’s leading theatre companies, specialising in creating and delivering dynamic, high quality and relevant productions for young audiences; not only do they offer a joyful linking experience, but build life skills too! This year, as the children are unable to meet at the theatre, M6 have created a fabulous new shared theatre experience for the classes to enjoy and work on together, more about that below.
M6 Theatre’s ethos and focus on children’s social and emotional development are common to TLN; well thought through workshops help build confidence and break down barriers, whilst having fun. The children meet meet in a positive environment and using theatre as a springboard for meaningful conversation and activities, move from working alone to working as a team. These experiences will be virtual in 2020-21, but will continue to provide positive and engaging experiences for children, helping them to build an understanding of how to live together with kindness and confidence.
M6 Theatre have made some short films to explain what they do:
Lots of virtual linking has been happening in the Rochdale area in the Autumn term; Deeplish and St Mary’s RC Primary, Littleborough shared their ideas for the morals of ‘When we Started Singing’ with M6 Theatre on Twitter ; as did Deeplish and Caldershaw Primary Schools here; both groups have some lovely ideas about how to care for each other and ourselves… we agree – kindness is the best- and we all need a friend.
Take a look at St Peter’s CE and St Joseph’s CE in Rochdale, meeting for the first time online here. Their virtual linking day was a huge success with lots of fun in the class room and some thoughtful discussion and a poem:
4C -St. Peter’s Church of England School
Our class is like no other, there are some things you should know,
Our class is like no other, let us tell you before you go.
We’re really good at gymnastics and being the good soil
We’d like to show your our playground
We like to play the name game
We can make you laugh by pulling silly faces
We’re good friends to have because we make each other laugh
Our class is like no other, there are some things you should know,
Our class is like no other, no it’s time for us to go
Class 5B at Smithy Bridge Primary school created these beautiful pictures, after working on the fabulous book ‘Incredible You’ – never stop being your incredible selves!
We Are We – a collective poem
Belonging, a sense of affinity, of being part of something larger can feel so important when we are growing up. In Rochdale, ever diverse and steeped in cooperative history, the idea resonates. One of the things that we love about Schools Linking is the way it celebrates a sense of self while championing a sense of belonging. We wanted to find a way to capture this.
We worked with a small group of children to come up with a structure for a poem.
I am …
He is …
She is …
You are …
They are …
I am Me but We are We
Every Linking child in Rochdale was invited to complete the verse and then each class was invited to select their favourite and contribute it to the collective poem. A number of classes combined their individual ideas to create something new. We have had some wonderful submissions. Each verse is unique and each verse belongs in the poem. So, I am me, but WE are Rochdale! You can find the finished poems on Twitter here. We selected a few of our favourites to share:
James Carey, EAL & Community Cohesion Lead at St. Mary’s CE Primary, shared his experiences of linking with Lowerplace Community Primary School with us: The first half-term of Linking with Year 4 has always focused on deepening the children’s understanding of themselves – trying to find meaning behind the question: ‘Who am I?’. In our first year as part of The Linking Network, I saw children being incredibly creative and making optimistic representations of their personalities. However, they did not readily accept that our fears, our weaknesses and our differences also contribute to our personalities. To make this point clearer, I used ‘The Wall in the Middle of the Book’ by Jon Agee this year: a fantastically illustrated tale of one knight and the ‘scary things’ that live on the other side of a wall separating the two sides of the book – only to find out that there are no scary things at all! We read the story and reflected on its message, before working on our very own ‘side of the book’. For some children, it was an opportunity to begin a discussion around their own personal troubles as one child drew themselves taking a sledgehammer to their wall – desperate to stand out and be noticed. For others, a chance to understand how their strengths and weaknesses work together; making them them! Then it was time to share. Each member of the class chose someone with whom they do not normally spend time. In pairs, they stuck their ‘sides of the wall’ together and looked at their final pieces of art. Conversation around the room, between children who do not usually speak with one another, quickly turned to strengths and weaknesses and how to overcome obstacles.
“We both get stuck in Maths, but we could help each other!” one pair said. “I actually love spiders, but I don’t like bees,” said another.
The activity was an eye-opening and accessible way for each child to look at their identity in a vast and complex way; providing the perfect introduction to the question: ‘How do we all live together?’ This could be a fantastic piece of artwork for a Linking Day, where children from each linking class join their sides of the wall, or could even lead to the creation of a giant wall with all members of each class contributing!
If you would like to learn more about the Rochdale Schools Linking Programme, please contact:
Erica Field: EMA Teaching and Learning Adviser (KS2-4) School Improvements Team, Rochdale Council – email@example.com
Follow us on Twitter @RochdaleCouncil
Or find us under Schools and Education on the Rochdale Council website