Sheffield Schools Linking Programme launched in 2017 and last year expanded to link 18 classes in Sheffield, engaging 540 pupils across 12  primary and 2 secondary schools. In 2021-22, we are linking virtually; building a sense of togetherness with other children and creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom initially.  We will also be holding virtual teacher CPD shortly, please get in touch if you would like your school to get involved!

In previous years, when linking face to face, we have enabled some powerful experiences between our linking students.  As part of the programme, a group of Y8/9 students from Newfield and Hinde House Secondary Schools,  met at DECSY and The Graves Gallery, Sheffield (Museums Sheffield) to carry out activities relating to Grayson Perry’s Comfort Blanket through P4C. This was followed up by pupils designing, producing an
d exchanging their own ‘Comfort Blankets’ which now form part of a school display. The groups also visited each other’s schools. At the Hinde House session the EAL pupils used the ‘Skin Again’ book as the stimulus and generated and chose the question ‘Why is race such a big issue?’ which led to an effective enquiry and follow-up activity.

Staff at the school have been trained in P4C and it is hoped that they will lead future sessions. At the end of the Link, there was a final celebration activity, where the two groups went ice skating together. They have since completed pieces of reflective writing. At an EAL conference, following the activities and having seen the display about the link, other schools expressed an interest in this type of exchange.  The programme seems to have led to some interesting outcomes around boosting the confidence of slightly marginalised or quieter children and has certainly broken down barriers and widened horizons to the extent that teachers have noticed these benefits. One of the P4C enquiries was particularly powerful.

We had a really amazing time…Thank you. Getting the children back was hard…they were so excited they would have been happy to stay all day. We loved it. THANK YOU AGAIN.” Teacher Malin Bridge Primary School, Sheffield.

I think other schools should do it because it helps children make new friends and no one judged anyone. We all supported each other’s opinions.” Pupil

I got the confidence and support from other schools to be a part of the group.” Pupil

Contact: Rob Unwin, Development Education Centre (South Yorkshire)

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