Tower Hamlets – London Schools Linking Project
Linking Lives towards Community Cohesion
Global Learning London promotes the values, aims and principles of global learning through all areas of education. Supporting schools in Tower Hamlets and across North London, we work collaboratively and as a part of wider networks, to develop global learning in schools and communities. The London Schools Linking Project began in Summer Term 2018 and we now near the end of our fourth full academic year of successful linking; and we are now recruiting schools for 2022-23.
Our work at Global Learning London focuses on local action for justice and sustainability in an increasingly interconnected globe. We work within and between schools to create collaborative, creative spaces where such action and conversation is led by children. Linking schools to this end has enhanced our practice, so that schools actually work together towards a common goal, rather than working in silos. We were delighted to continue the London Schools Linking Project in Tower Hamlets last year, with nearly 400 local children and their teachers benefitting from the work.
Over the academic year 2020/ 2021 we extended our linking programme to include schools in North London. Many of our Tower Hamlets schools wished to bring enhanced diversity to their links by venturing outside their immediate locality, to a contrasting area of London. In 2021-22 we held online CPD for teachers and virtual linking for classes, initially; building a sense of togetherness with other children and creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom. In 2022-23, we anticipate that we will be able to come together in person.
Since the outset of our linking work, we have striven to link a range of settings including infant and nursery children, primary pupils and special needs students. The idea for linking special schools with mainstream schools came about as a result of discovering a hate crime statistic in Tower Hamlets –in 2017, 27 crimes were committed against disabled people. We felt that we must respond to this statistic positively and constructively, hence the idea to link schools. As an organisation that embraces diversity, we see it as our duty to come together to build a community that integrates different needs and abilities. Our challenge is to do this with criticality, so that we are not perpetuating a charity mentality. Rather, we are looking to engender an appreciation for the different ways each of us inhabits our shared world. Equally, we believe that everyone has something to offer when they are enabled, rather than disabled, by society. By extending the application of our work to Life Skills it has fully accommodated the needs of special schools and their students. Learn more about our special schools linking here.
One notable example of the inclusion of wider London schools this year is the work of Parkfield Primary School in Barnet – our ‘superlink school’. With 5 linked partner classes across London, including schools in Walthamstow, Bow, Edgware, Shadwell and Bethnal Green, every part of the school is involved. Using the underpinning 4 questions to connect pupils with others across London, this year’s work continues to support learners in their return to school post-lockdown and to re-engage with members of their own classes too.
Curiosity questions, artwork and reflections have been shared across the group of schools over the Spring Term. The Summer Term work includes work on kindness, the book ‘The boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ (Charlie Mackesy) and determining environmental pledges as part of each schools’ social action.
‘Our pupils have benefited from engaging in this programme as it has strengthened citizenship, integration and cohesion, and has facilitated us to consider different communities we belong to but are also united by. This is a powerful message which the pupils have spent a great deal of time discussing and exploring, including considering how our community and diversity is shared by so many boroughs across London.’
Leila Harris, Lead link teacher
‘Our children share the locality they inhabit. Linking has brought them into a space that uncovers the wealth of intangible diversity within this locality– the diversity of world views, of multiple solutions to a problem, of forms of self-expression.’
Alia Al Zougbi, former head of Global Learning London
Triny Diaz – Operations Manager: Triny.Diaz@towerhamlets.gov.uk