The Walsall Schools Linking Programme was launched in the Autumn term 2018 and last year we were excited to see that numbers had increased to 24 classes with 13 new schools joining us, engaging an amazing 676 pupils!
The programme was going exceptionally well, with Walsall for All staff providing additional advice, guidance and support to the schools as well as delivery partners such as Walsall FC and the New Art Gallery.
In January, Walsall was privileged to receive a high profile visit by representatives of Italian Civil Society and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A group of 7 educators, public and third sector professionals joined in our special link day at Walsall FC. Mike Collyer, an experienced youth worker facilitated a series of exercises between pupils from the 2 schools exploring issues about identity, personality and belonging within the luxurious surroundings of the 1888 Club Hospitality Lounge. Both schools host pupils of Bengali-Italian heritage and valuable discussions took place about integration and diversity within both an Italian and UK context. Pupils from both schools were treated to a one to one chat with Liam Kinsella, one of the club’s key strikers and explored the career potential of working within the sports industry.
Case study: North Walsall Primary Academy and Caldmore Primary Academy
The students from Butts Primary and Palfrey Juniors met for the first time at the New Art Gallery, Walsall and worked together to produce some brilliant collaborative collagraphed prints! Pupils worked closely with each other thus making meaningful contacts at the same time. The children found out what they had in common and got to know each other.
Millfield Primary and Alumwell Junior also took part. Activities included poly printing, discovering artwork and discussion.
The class lead from one school said, “The activities have proven to be a simple and effective way to get the kids to engage. The impact of this has been really positive! The children have been working together and learning about not just the art, but the story of the artists behind the art. The artists coming from different backgrounds and upbringing will inspire the children to have high aspirations in life.”
One of the children from Millfield school exclaimed, “It was the best day of my life!”
We were disappointed and saddened to have to postpone our linking during the latter part of the Spring term and the Summer term this year.
Walsall for All to re-launch School Linking programme in September
With schools across the borough set to return to full occupancy in September, Walsall for All, a partnership programme between the Council, voluntary groups, the public and private sectors, plan a relaunch of their successful Schools Linking programme at a time when sharing different perspectives and experiences are more important and valuable than ever.
Walsall for All says that in the world of post-Coronavirus lockdown with its increased awareness of inequality, highlighted by both the disproportionate impact of the virus on certain communities and the Black Lives Matter movement, programmes such as this will be vital for young people to explore these issues by taking part in activities as well as enabling them to share their unique experiences.
With government guidelines around social distancing and safety at the forefront of schools, re-opening the programme has had to reassess its delivery methods, in 2020-21, we are linking virtually; building a sense of togetherness with other children and creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom.
Please get in touch to find out more.
Contact: Haroon Ravat Haroon.firstname.lastname@example.org at Communities, Equality and Cohesion, Walsall Council