News / School Linking launches online

School Linking launches online

News / Schools

The Faith & Belief Forum

01 / 02 / 21

School Linking will look quite different this academic year. Due to the pandemic, the programme has been adapted to incorporate virtual links online.

Research has shown that while face to face contact is ideal, indirect forms of contact where there is no face to face meeting can also improve confidence in contact, increase empathy, increase sense of similarity, improve knowledge of others, develop positive attitudes to others they haven’t yet met. It also reduces prejudice and stereotyping, increases belief that interactions will go well in the future, creates greater willingness to engage in contact and reduced anxiety about meeting others.

Tools and activities have been modified for teachers to work with children either online or in the classroom when children return. The focus of this round of training has been to encourage children and young people to reflect upon important questions of identity (‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who are we?’) Schools will link by sending material created from in-class activities and discussions to their link class. Exchanged materials will be used as stimulus to encourage conversations on diversity and to develop understanding of the lived experiences of peers from different backgrounds.

Through our first Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions have now trained a total of 62 teachers across 52 schools on topic 1 of the Virtual School Linking Programme. In Birmingham, 26 teachers from 22 schools, and in London, 36 teachers from 30 schools.

Teachers talked about their wish to maintain some opportunities for linking and recognised the importance of it during the current climate. They were passionate about working with us to make this happen!

The following are responses from teachers to a question about why they feel dialogue is important for their students gathered during CPD1’s:

  • So pupils gain a deeper understanding about people from other backgrounds
  • Allows them to think about their own beliefs
  • To learn to value themselves and others
  • It builds a more cohesive society
  • It allows for students to explore their beliefs and begin to understand one another
  • Raise the profile of RE in school. Having our children developing relationships with children from outside their social groups
  • A secure link and future links for the children of my school
  • To gain a new skill set that would enable them to be open-minded
  • For children to share common values and respect
  • New skills for children to connect

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