A project that will give schoolchildren the chance to meet and learn from other young people from different backgrounds has been created to help schools trying to meet their new duty to promote community cohesion. The Schools Linking Network will support schools and councils working to develop partnerships between schools as one way to meet their legal obligations.
The new agency has been launched by the Schools Minister, Jim Knight, with three million pounds of Government funding. It will run and promote a website that will enable schools to find potential partners. The site has been developed in partnership with the British Council and will include training material and other resources for teachers.
The Linking Network will also work with local authorities to set up and run linking schemes and will offer support, guidance and training for councils. The Schools Linking Project was initially set up in Bradford in 2002 and the model was extended to Tower Hamlets in 2006. Three further areas are being added now and the funding will enable the continued roll out of the programme to other parts of the country over the next three years. An additional million pounds from the Pears Foundation will mean schools not initially covered by the pilot projects will be able to contact the SLN for advice about school linking.
Mr. Knight said, “Schools have always had a leading role to play in their local areas, developing a sense of shared values and understanding across their curriculum, ethos and engagement with parents and wider community. The new duty to promote community cohesion recognises the importance we place on this. All schools and teachers should be considering what more they should be doing to promote tolerance and harmony, so they become real dynamos of change within their communities inside and outside the school gates. School linking is one way of achieving that.”