‘Well that was a success for the human race!’
08 February, 2024
This perceptive comment made by a Year 3 child having just experienced his first schools linking class visit was just one quote shared with us during the teacher training sessions held across our 25 Local Areas. Indeed the impact of being involved in Schools Linking can be profound and varied for those involved.
Teachers consistently report on the increase in children’s confidence they witness during the programme. One pair of children, partnered up on their face-to-face class visit, discovered that they were both carers. This was not a part of their lives that either child had readily spoken about to others before, but on this day, were seen to both grow in confidence as they animatedly shared their experiences with each other.
‘Children get to be children!’ Unlike what can sometimes feel like a pressurised timetable at school, the Schools Linking sessions can feel very different. Children are given the space to reflect on their identity, the similarities and differences they share with others and get to do this in a fun, participatory way – playing games, sharing stories. Research has shown that when linking experiences are fun and are positive, the aims of reducing prejudice and increasing confidence in contact are more likely to be achieved.
The levels of their children’s excitement and engagement is another consistent theme in feedback from teachers. Once children have understood that they will be embarking on a year long journey, getting to know another class of children in a different school, their enthusiasm just grows. Any mention of the schools linking programme unleashes questions of, ‘when are we going to meet them?!’ Can we video call them now?!’ This open-minded attitude of children is important to capitalise on as we know from psychological research that, ‘childhood attitudes towards difference are more open to change, compared with adults, are more influenced by social interactions, and can continue into adulthood,’ Raabe & Beelmann, 2011
One teacher in Bolton, shared how important he thought the schools linking programme was for his children as they were very much in a ‘bubble’. This opportunity helped them to safely expand their bubble to include their linking partners.
Our Primary Schools Linking Programme operates in 25 Local Areas across England, engaging with over 24,000 pupils from over 850 classes. To see if there is a programme in your area, follow this link: https://thelinkingnetwork.org.uk/national-network/
To contact us at The Linking Network, email firstname.lastname@example.org