Local School Linking to Explore Local Diversity
For the past five years, we have been involved in the Local School Linking project in Calderdale, supported by the Linking Network. We have been linked with Parkinson Lane Primary CP School in Halifax. Each year our Year 3-4 children follow a carefully structured programme so that they first explore their own identity, before then exploring the similarities and differences with children from Parkinson Lane. Then – pre Covid – they meet at a neutral venue – Bankfield Museum, where they get to know each other whilst taking part in lots of fun activities. In the summer term, we take it in turns to visit each other’s schools. For each school in the partnership, there are lots of similarities and differences to explore in a safe and supported way. In the past couple of years, the meeting stage has been replaced with virtual meetings.
During this process, we aim to enable children to develop skills of enquiry, critical thinking, reflection and communication, as well as providing the opportunity for children and young people to meet (virtually at the current time), build new relationships, work together and contribute to the wider community. There is strong evidence that high levels of meaningful contact between people from different backgrounds can reduce prejudice, increase trust and understanding between groups and lead to a greater sense of togetherness.
Aims of Linking
Teachers baseline children’s attitudes before meeting the children from Parkinson Lane and then repeat this after the experience. We also capture their reflections about the experience. Each year, we have found a significant shift in attitudes following the children being involved. Initially there are expressions of nervousness and anxiety. Routinely at the end, children report that they feel more confident meeting people from different backgrounds, they feel that they have made some new friends and have enjoyed the experience.
Children and Staff from Colden and Parkinson Lane meeting for the first time at Bankfield Museum.
Meeting up again at Colden’s Forest School.