The programme brings together two classes, usually from demographically diverse schools in a year-long programme within a local area. Due to Covid, 2020-21 was a virtual linking year, with classes linking within and between schools. We are continuing to work virtually in the autumn term 2021 and will review this in the new year.
There are currently 29 schools linking programmes in the network, based in: Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Bradford, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Burnley, Bury, Calderdale, Derby, Kent, Kirklees, Leeds, Leicester, London, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottinghamshire, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Rochdale, Rotherham, Sheffield, Stockport, Tower Hamlets, Walsall and Waltham Forest.
We work with all kinds of schools including primary, secondary and special schools; ranging from local authority, community independent, free schools and academies. Links are formed with non-denominational schools and all kinds of faith schools.
In the last academic year, across 29 programmes, over 1,063 classes and over 30,000 children and young people were linked. In each local area connected in our network there is a local facilitator, if you are interested in finding a link, please contact us or Contact your nearest local programme to express interest.
Schools Linking builds on our existing learning about what works in connecting children to build their confidence in contact with others. It will support the return to schools. We believe we can create a sparky, enjoyable programme that is simultaneously, and very importantly, manageable for teachers. We are excited to be working with so many schools this year with headteachers choosing to continue connecting their classes.
You can find the Primary Linking Resources for teachers here
and Secondary Shuttle Dialogue Resources for teachers here
‘We deliver the programme to challenge stereotypes/prejudices. We know a simple act of interaction can make a huge change to the mindset of those involved’ Leicester St Philip’s Centre
Our vision for Schools Linking 2021-22 includes:
- Building a sense of togetherness with other children;
- Creating shared learning adventures from within the classroom;
- Helping children recognise their feelings, promoting recovery and developing trust, empathy, awareness and respect for others;
- Providing opportunities to contribute to the wider community
Using the questions Who am I? Who are we? Where do we live? and How do we all live together? the programme will enable a focus on well- being and sense of belonging in our home and school communities, with the option of reaching out to others in another school.
Many important aspects of the programme have always taken place from within the classroom and these will all continue; playing games, exploring the four questions, preparing and exchanging work between the classes, reflecting, discussing and enjoying receiving information about the other class. Virtual Teacher training by webinar will be new for us all but thanks to breakout rooms we are discovering that making time to meet and plan well is within reach. For Secondary Pupils ideas include ‘Shuttle Dialogue’ and Pupil Voice on Social Action are opening up new possibilities which have potential.
As an educational network we know the planning needed to make linking work for both schools and pupils. Linking is a flexible vehicle and offers the potential for connection and dialogue to aid recovery and deliver core curriculum that is enjoyable, age- appropriate and socially distanced. Linking 2021-22 will be fully resourced. Schools may not be able to arrange visits for some time, but children can connect with others they will otherwise not meet through this programme. We’ve always had a place for ‘within school’ linking where a school community needed to connect with one other and this model fit well where one class is separated into two socially distanced groups, in school at different times, and there would be the opportunity to join in with wider events.
We continue to offer a library of free remote learning resources, home learning primary and secondary resources that aim to build hope and connection with others. For support with Intergenerational Linking click here, and ideas, resources and support for social action in linking click here. You can see what’s new on Facebook: @LinkingNetworkFamilyLearning and follow us on Twitter too: @Linking_Network.
Click here to find further information about joining a linking programme in your area.
The Linking Process
- Headteachers express interest in joining a local linking project and linking with another school by contacting a linking facilitator in their local area.
- The local facilitator brokers a link with another school in discussion with both headteachers about their priorities.
- Headteacher signs an agreement and the links are confirmed
- Teachers are sent Phase A of CPD1 training to watch in their own time and then, they attend Phase B training with their linking partner; a zoom meeting of around 1.5hrs.
- The linking year is broken into three phases; Phase 1 in the first part of the year classes work on identity, using the key questions: Who am I? Who are we? Phase 2 explores social action through the questions Where do we live? How do we all live together? Phase 3 brings the linking year to an end with a celebration.
- Linking pupils will share the most exciting, digital, shared experiences; theatre pieces, storytelling, video calls, poetry readings, learning sign language together, virtual museum tours and the sharing of ideas through Philosophy for Children (P4c). Later in the year we will have further digital get-togethers across each linking district and across the entire linking network.
- Linking develops skills of enquiry, critical thinking, reflection, and communication.
- Develops trust, empathy, awareness, and respect.
- Dialogue and experiences that help pupils avoid the twin traps of hate and fear.
- Provides opportunities for children and young people to meet, build new relationships, work together and contribute to the wider community.
‘…Schools in Oldham have been really positive about this years linking opportunities and there has been a lot of excitement towards the plan. They are really impressed and pleased about the amount of opportunities that they can access that brings togetherness without meeting face to face and that more year groups can get involved and are not limited because of cost and budgets. They are also really pleased with the programme and how it supports other curriculum areas. They would like to thank the Linking Network for their hard work, commitment and support during this unprecedented situation and for creating some wonderful opportunities’ Suzy Ashworth, Oldham’s facilitator, October 2020.
Our programme has been rigorously evaluated and is informed by over 60 years of intensive research, which has identified specific conditions that are required to ensure contact between individuals from different backgrounds has a big impact; this includes indirect contact.
Local Linking programmes in Bolton, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Burnley, Bury, Calderdale, Derby, Kent, Kirklees, Leeds, Leicester, London, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Rochdale, Rotherham, Sheffield, Stockport, Tower Hamlets, Walsall and Waltham Forest are all recruiting schools.
Please contact us if your school is interested in joining one of these local linking projects. We can put you in contact with the local facilitator or you can contact them directly. All contacts can be found on the Network Contact Details page. If there is no local project near you do get in touch as we can support you and a local linked partner school with online training.
The children had the opportunity to meet children with completely different cultures and backgrounds and this was good for them. They were very anxious before the first encounter, but afterwards they were nothing but excited.”
What I’ve seen linking do for my class is create opportunities to meet and converse. It is a very natural process and it really is important from a very young age. For me, as a Muslim girl growing up in Bradford, it was when I went to University in York I realised that many people had not conversed outside their group, so they had little mutual understanding. As people grow older, misconceptions can grow and can grow into hatred. The Schools Linking Project addresses misconceptions -you are building the ability to respect.” Nahida Nazir, Linking Teacher