Bradford works with primary, secondary and special schools in localities that have been identified as having segregated communities. Through a carefully planned and research-led approach, underpinned by Social Contact Theory, the city support teachers to facilitate meaningful and positive sustained social mixing.
A year-long programme of structured visits for paired classes and curriculum work equips learners with the skills, confidence and knowledge to thrive in modern Britain. The training enables teachers to support their learners to develop trust, empathy, awareness and respect. Tried and tested resources are employed in the classroom and the resulting work is exchanged between the pairs of schools. Learners first meet at a neutral venue, such as a museum, where they engage in joint co-operative, enjoyable activity.
The first meeting is followed by class visits to both schools, where the learners experience being hosts and guests by turn. Great care is taken in structuring these visits, including reflection time to unpack learning and experiences. Through-out the linking year ongoing curriculum work on the themes of identity, diversity, community and equality is exchanged. Opportunities for dialogue, critical reflection and positive attitudinal development are encouraged.
In the Bradford Schools Linking Programme there are currently 223 classes from 113 schools actively linking with funding from Bradford Council via the Integrated Areas Programme (Bradford for Everyone) supporting the work. This includes Primary, Secondary and Special schools.
A wealth of evaluation studies consistently shows the value of the work, for example:
‘TLN schools linking enables children and young people to explore identity, celebrate diversity, build community and champion equality through the development of mutual understanding, critical awareness and openness, empathy, respect for difference and active citizenship’ (Shannahan, CTPRS* Evaluation 2018)
As well as working with primary, secondary, faith and Special Educational Needs schools across the Bradford district and beyond, The Linking Network is supported by Bradford Council, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), The Pears Foundation and the Department for Education (DfE).
Further information about the work of The Linking Network can be found here:
To discover more about innovative projects being delivered as part of the Bradford for Everyone programme visit the website.