Quotes from Linking Students
The first thing the teacher asked the students why they thought they’d been asked to come in their own clothes instead of their uniforms today, “Because today we are one group, not two” came the answer, Birmingham student
‘I’ve learnt that even if you’re a different religion or colour, if someone is kind-hearted from inside, you can be friends. It’s been great to overcome our fears and get to know other people’, Birmingham student
‘Before I met the girls from Pioneers Academy I felt nervous because I felt there were no similarities. But after I got to know them, I realised there weren’t that many differences. I made many new friends today and I hope I meet them again soon. I enjoyed watching the Islamic students pray; it was very graceful.’ Pamela, Birmingham
“I have had the opportunity to meet with other people I have never met before and share my interests with them.” Muhammad, Bolton
“I have been challenged today… the stereotypes I hold have been destroyed” Bradford student
“Socialise before you criticise” Bradford student
‘At first I thought that there was no point in linking with them because they’re so different from us. But I changed my mind after I met them as I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to today.’
‘I didn’t want to link as their school is so different from ours. But then we linked, and the students were really friendly. I realised that they were…what’s the word…humble, I guess? They’re definitely different to how I imagined them to be.’
‘The more we meet, the better we’ll become at talking to them. I think they’ll help us to become more confident.’
“I feel like linking has helped me go and speak to new people. At the start of the year I would have been too scared to do that.” Year 4 Child
“The advice that I would give to someone who is going to be linking next year is don’t let your nerves stop you from talking to someone new as you might end up making a really great friend.” Year 4 child
“Our experience of the project enabled us to meet new people and to develop our social skills. We learnt how to work well together in a team in outdoor activities, which also helped us to understand what is involved in some of the tasks that the Council undertakes. Lastly, and importantly, we made new friendships, had fun and enjoyed ourselves very much”. Georgia, Tyler and Jack, Burckinghamshire
‘I really enjoyed the Stony Deans Schools Linking experience. It taught me a lot about my peers and myself, that I wouldn’t be able to learn as effectively in a classroom environment. It was clear to see how it influenced every member of the project individually and even though it was a short amount of time, I felt its impact will be long lasting.’ DGS student, Buckinghamshire
‘It reminds me of how we are all connected.’ Bury student
‘When we came, we didn’t know each other, but now we’ve made new friends.’ Bury student
‘I loved making new friends from St Mary’s, it was also great that we were able to create and record a song all about Bury.’ Marya, Bury
“This has been our best trip ever.” Calderdale student
“I enjoyed making new friends, even though I was nervous at first” Kent student
“It’s important to hear stories like this so we learn about each other’s cultures and understand each other better.” Kirklees student
“We have learned about diversity and teamwork and we have created amazing things. We have got to know children from Old Bank and it has helped us to be better people.” Pupil from Carlton JIN, Kirklees
“Don’t worry, I think you’re going to be ok, you just have to take small steps to do bigger things.” Year 4 pupil, Kirklees
“We never really know who anyone is until we sit down and listen to their story.” High school student, Kirklees
“You shouldn’t have bad attitudes about them. Everyone’s an individual and has their own identity and story to tell. You should get to know them, not judge them on what they look like or where they come from.” Pupil at Upper Batley High School.
‘I’ve learnt that even if you’re a different religion or colour, if someone is kind-hearted from inside, you can be friends. It’s been great to overcome our fears and get to know other people’. London student
‘I would say jump straight in and make the most of the opportunity.’ Year 6 Luton Pupil, when asked what their advice would be for other children before taking part in linking.
“I have loved the Linking Network this year because I’ve got to know different people and different ways of living. I found out things I didn’t know about different religions, cultures and just other places in Luton. I want to do it again!” Luton student
‘I wondered what they would be like. I thought they would be different to me. They are a little different, but not much. And it’s ok to be different,’ Year 4 , St Luke’s, Rochdale
‘This helps you learn how to make friends when you are all different and all the same,’ Year 4 pupil, All Saints , Rochdale
‘I think it’s a really good idea. You get to learn about each other. You get to share the learning,’ Year 4 girl, All Saints, Rochdale
The schools linking project is important because it helps me to build up confidence and meet new people.’ Rotherham pupil
“I got the confidence and support from other schools to be a part of the group.” Sheffield Pupil
“The best thing about Schools Linking is that you will always make a friend. Everyone has a big smile on their face because it is good to make new friends. “ Year 5 pupil, Stockport.
“It was fun to meet together and play games. I’ve made a new friend who doesn’t look like me but he’s just like me on the inside.” Year 5 pupil, Stockport
“I haven’t done something like this before. I was very nervous to meet new people, but I feel more confident now, and not scared of meeting different people. We are all the same really.” Year 3 student at Ashbury Meadow, Manchester.
‘The session really helped me to learn lots of new things; for example when I thought about identity before I just thought about passports, fingerprints and DNA but now I think identity is about much more, it is about a person’s personality and the things that are important to them’ Waltham Forest student
Year 3 Armitage Church of England Primary, Manchester and North Cheshire Jewish School, Stockport sent us The Tale of two Zacs.
Prior to meeting at Z-arts, a creative arts venue in Manchester, the classes had exchanged names of the class members as well as identity circles. From this sharing of information, the children noticed that they had different names and different interests and hobbies. However, there was much excitement and joy for two boys. They shared the same name and not only the same name but the same interest in card trading games. Who would have thought that two boys named Zac, from two different schools, one in Manchester and one in Stockport, from two schools of different faith, one Jewish and one Christian, from different cultural backgrounds could meet and have so much in common? The joy and laughter when they met each other, the shaking hands and shared ground of their interest in Pokemon made foundations of a new friendship.
After hellos and high fives the classes took part in warm up activities and games. One game involved moving around to music expressing themselves as a favourite animal. When the music stopped the children were to find a partner and share a fact about themselves or ask a question of their partner. Zac and Zach found each other time and time again.
One of the conversations went something like this:
Zac: Ask me about this… ask me about this! (Bouncing around like a puppy pointing to his head)
Zach: About your hat? Why are you wearing a hat? Why are all the boys wearing hats?
Zac: It’s not a hat, it’s a Kippah.
Zach: I’ve never heard of that before, is that a special name?
Zac: I don’t know it’s just what they are called.
Zach: So why do you wear them?
Zac: It’s our school uniform, we are Jewish and Jewish boys wear them. It reminds us that God is above us, watching us.
Zach: Oh so it shows your religion?
Zac: Yes, that we are Jewish – the girls don’t wear them but they have to wear skirts and not trousers.
Zach: Our schools not Jewish it’s Church of England – we can wear our school uniform – but we don’t have… what do you call it again?
Zac: A kippah. Do you like them?
Zach: They’re cool.
The conversation then moved on to which Pokemon they though had the best power and if they could be in the same group for art and drumming.
Whilst the children were interacting with each other, the teacher from North Cheshire Jewish School had been approaching her pupils to remind them to put their Kippahs on. Many of the boys had chosen to put them in their pockets on arrival and the class teacher was reminding them that it was part of their uniform. An opportune moment arose when Zac and Zach were asked to share what they had asked each other. The children across a large, brightly lit dance studio gave their attention whilst Zac and Zach retold their story. Slowly a trickle of hands went in to pockets as crumpled Kippahs were retrieved, smoothed out and proudly placed where they should always have been. Zac was proud of his faith and wanted to share a little bit of his identity with Zach and in doing so reminded all the listeners of the joys of seeing the similarities and celebrating the differences.
For the rest of the day Zach and Zac were inseparable. Drumming workshops, lunch and screen printing activities gave many opportunities for them to find out information like their favourite foods, favourite books, things that make them laugh, family habits as well as all the parts of their lives that are different through geography, opportunity, faith and culture.
One thing is for certain, Zac and Zach made friends. One Zac from a Jewish school in Stockport and another Zach from a Christian school in Manchester. They look forward to the next opportunity to meet when they can proudly and confidently show each other round their school. Zac and Zach will continue to find similarities and differences between themselves, their schools and their faith and culture through first hand experiences. There will also be some card trading taking place too, who knows Pokemon may be old school by then and a new craze may have gripped them both. Laughter, fun, energy and joy will be in abundance as Zac and Zach continue to build on their new friendship.
Zac and Zach met at each other’s school later on in the year. Zac sung the daily prayers in Hebrew as Zach listened and smiled. Zach spoke the Lord’s prayer in English as Zac looked on at the visit to Armitage – two boys linked in a new friendship; two boys speaking in different languages but expressing the school’s values, the school’s faith ethos in different but similar ways. They will get to meet each other again as the two schools have agreed to move the project with the class into Year 4. I look in and wonder… what does the future hold for these two boys… will they still have that connection when they meet again in Year 4? Watch this space…