03 July, 2023
‘They’re here!’ cried a year 3 child on the morning of their first face-to-face meeting with their linking class. There were mixed emotions as the two classes came together at a theatre in their local area. Some children were looking pensive and shy whilst others were full of excitement, keen to get to know their partner with whom they had been communicating for several weeks.
The Linking Network’s Primary Schools Linking programme brings together pairs of classes over a school year so they can get to know each other and have fun together. These children are among the 26,000 across England in 27 Local Authority areas who are a part of The Linking Network’s Schools Linking Programme.
Two children from linking classes in Pendle quickly overcame their initial nervousness when they found that they had the same trainers as each other. After this discovery, they were determined to find more visible and invisible similarities that they shared!
We support teachers with training and resources so they can create an exciting linking journey for their pupils. The programme is carefully planned and activities are based around our 4 key questions – Who am I? Who are we? Where do we live? How do we all live well together?
Children start the year by exploring identity within their own school and community before exchanging information and maybe even a live video call with their link school. Some classes visit a neutral venue together and others may visit each other’s schools. As the year develops the children choose a social action project which they take part in and share their progress with their link class. Before the end of the school year the children celebrate their journey together – sometimes this can be a visit or they might exchange cards or take part in Schools Linking Celebration Week activities.
‘It’s important to learn about other people’s stories so that we know what other people have gone through,’ Schools Linking pupil reflecting on what they had learnt from schools linking.
‘As soon as our children were under one roof they immediately connected and you could begin to see friendships forming. Any inhibitions were left behind.’ Blackburn with Darwen Schools Linking
We know how important it is to extend the impact of the programme beyond the school gate so we have lots of Family Engagement activities which allow for the impact of the programme to be extended into the wider community by involving parents, carers, siblings, grandparents etc. It is often clear that these opportunities help the learning and impact of the work to grow.
At The Linking Network we’re delighted to have been supporting the Primary Linking programme for 22 years and are so proud to work with the have 27 local areas of England currently taking part. We love watching the connections between the children develop as the year progresses and the joy that is shared. We know that children look forward to their opportunity to take part in linking and research shows that linking has a positive impact on children who participate and gives them confidence in connecting with people different to them.
Pupils in the Stockport Schools Linking Programme looking with great interest at the identity work they have received from their link school.
Our thanks go to everyone across the country who help make the Schools Linking programme so joyful and meaningful. The energy, care and commitment of the primary teachers and schools who bring their pupils together facilitates so many 1000’s of children to connect. The cultural, civic and sporting venues which host Linking visits create wonderful opportunities alonside the school-to-school meetings. We’re so grateful for the ongoing support from Pears Foundation in a partnership with DfE, DLUHC and Dulverton Trust and Alan & Babette Sainsbury’s Charitable Fund for their investment alongside schools, local authorities and NGOs into the work.
We’ve a great short film you can watch to see our Primary Linking work in action via this link here.
If you would like to find out more or get involved in Schools Linking please get in touch with our national team or find your local area facilitator’s details here.