Parkfield Links with London Schools
by Leila Harris
The Linking Network supports schools and communities to develop a positive, cohesive ethos through linking programmes and supports teachers to deliver this work using classroom resources and teacher training sessions. Our school has participated in Phase 1 of this project which is entitled “Schools Linking”
Through this work we have been delighted to link with schools across London, including Walthamstow, Bow, Edgware, Shadwell and Bethnal Green. Participating in this project has supported work on SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural) development which we consider to be crucial as a lever for positive whole school change.
We have used the four underpinning questions which frame the work done on this project to provide pupils with the experience of connecting pupils with others across London. The four questions are:
Who am I?
Who are we?
Where do we live?
How do we all live together?
We launched this project in March and this was timely because it supported us to facilitate pupils to return to school post lockdown and re-engage with members of their own class initially and share aspects of their lives with their partner class. This also served to highlight the diverse and multicultural nature of living in our great city of London.
Our pupils have benefited from engaging in this programme as it has strengthened citizenship, integration and cohesion, and has facilitated us to consider different communities we belong to but are also united by. This is a powerful message which the pupils have spent a great deal of time discussing and exploring, including considering how our community and diversity is shared by so many boroughs across London.
We exchanged three pieces of work with our link classes. We began the project by creating an introduction to our school with a powerpoint presentation with pictures of our respective schools and a welcome message for each class. The pupils then created their own personal passports with information about themselves including aspects of their personality and interests. This activity sparked much discussion in class about individual names, their meanings and where they were from as well as interesting discussions about similar names and languages spoken in link classes.
The second piece of work exchanged was a piece of art work focused around our identity and how we wish to present and represent ourselves. This work was based on two key stimuli – a poem which we shared with all our other schools and a book which we shared with some of our link schools who also wanted to explore the issue of identity further.
The final price of work exchanged with all schools were ‘curiosity questions’. After pupils had an opportunity to reflect on the connections we had made with each link class and consider whether we still had any unanswered questions which we would like to pose to them.
The Linking Schools Network work is rooted in social contact theory which has found that positive meaningful interaction can reduce prejudice and so lessen hate and increase openness to difference. In this way, we would hope that we support pupils to develop mutual understanding, appreciation and a sense of belonging.
We are now looking forward to launching the second phase of this work in the Autumn Term and considering how the work we have already done can be embedded in to our dynamic and vibrant school life.
Leila is a teacher at Parkfield Primary School in Barnet.