The Waltham Forest Schools Linking Programme was launched in 2017. The programme will soon be in its third year and currently has 14 classes on the programme; four secondary and ten Primary from a mix of faith and non-denominational schools.
Al-Noor Primary and Our Lady and Saint George’s Primary are two of the primary schools participating in the programme. On the first Link day between two of the classes, students explored their own individual identity before sharing their findings with groups. After several activities and play, the OLSG students were invited to watch the Al-Noor students pray. Teachers guided the students through this experience, encouraging respectful behaviours. Following this, they visited the small church in OLSG’s local area, where students held a Q&A and explored similarities and differences between their practices. This was an opportunity for students in both classes to increase religious literacy, as well as practice intercultural dialogue skills.
“Pupils were enthused about learning more about Christianity, now that they have friends from a Catholic School.” – Lead Linking Teacher, Al-Noor Primary
We have a fantastic 3-way Link with our secondary school Holy Family Catholic School that are partnered with both Eden Girls and Norlington School. Teachers from all schools reported a growth in confidence, with students having the opportunity to come out of their shells and make new friends. Their careful planning and interfaith modelling meant that students were able to reach a depth and a nuance in conversation, in only a short space of time. Students came away from the Link day with statements of positive affirmation from their partners, as well as an increased awareness of their own, as well as shared values and aspects of identity.
“It was an opportunity to learn how they are similar and different as well as what is important for their identity.” – Lead Linking Teacher, Holy Family Catholic School
The localised model of the Waltham Forest programme has meant that teachers on the cohort have a great deal of crossover in their own school contexts and can work together easily. The relationships formed on the Linking programme have strengthened relationships formed through other local authority initiatives. Waltham Forest SACRE have continued to be very supportive of our programme.
We also run School Linking in London, covering many boroughs and in The West Midlands. Please visit the website for more information on all our areas.
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