Forest School is a diamond structure all-through school located on the north-east edge of London. It was founded on Anglican Church traditions but recently began seeking ways to recognise the growing diversity of its student body, as well as the need for interfaith skills and understanding in our wider world. In 2019 we were contacted by Louisa Parrales, the school’s first Lay Chaplain, who expressed an interest in our School Linking Programme.
We partnered Louisa and Forest School with Will Lines at non-denominational Norlington Boys School, and Is’Haaq Jasat, Director of Learning RE from Muslim-ethos Eden Girls School; both of whom had already led on a series of successful Linking partnerships in previous programme years. After participating in our immersive interfaith dialogue facilitation training day at the Waltham Forest Town Hall, the three schools agreed to hold their first Link days at Forest School in the context of National Interfaith Week.
Both Link days involved a series of activities centred upon the key question, ‘Who Am I?’. Students from the three schools had the opportunity to explore and practice articulating their own identities, as well as to learn about each other. What did the students have to say about their experience?
‘I increased my confidence in talking to new people’
‘I learnt more about the meaning of identity as a whole’
‘I have learnt that I have more in common with other people than I thought’
‘The session really helped me to learn lots of new things; for example when I thought about identity before I just thought about passports, fingerprints and DNA but now I think identity is about much more, it is about a person’s personality and the things that are important to them’
‘Next time I will sit with different people at lunch-time so I get to speak to every single girl!’
Linking teacher Will Lines told us ‘our boys really enjoyed the first link day, working with their contemporaries from Forest School. By exploring ideas around identity, they learnt a great deal not only about students from the linking school but were also prompted to examine their own ideas of community and belonging’.
Forest School’s partnerships with Norlington Boys and Eden Girls will see another 4 Link days this academic year, and we hope to welcome all three schools back onto the programme in years to come!
To help us set up more school links so young people from different backgrounds can learn about each other, please donate.Donate today