Published Thursday 18 July 2019 at 16:12
Pupils from a number of Blackburn with Darwen schools have been celebrating taking part in a project that has brought them together to think about their identity and learn about one another’s culture.
The Redeemer CE Primary School in Ewood and St Matthew’s CE Primary School in Audley have taken part in the Schools Linking programme during the 2018/19 academic year.
Year 4 pupils met up three times throughout the academic year for activities that aim to help build bridges between children from different cultural backgrounds.
Together the children, aged eight and nine, have taken part in lively classroom activities that explore themes around identity and belonging that aim to create a sense of togetherness. Pupils have also exchanged work throughout the year.
And last week the two schools came together at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre for a day of games and fun activities.
Margaret Prescott, Assistant Headteacher at The Redeemer CE Primary School, said:
The children from The Redeemer and St Matthew’s have met three times during this school year, including a visit to each other’s schools. It has been a great experience to witness our children coming together, having fun and finding out so many things about each other. The children have become friends.
Thomas Woodward, Year 4 class teacher at St Matthew’s CE Primary School, said:
The Schools Linking project has provided our children with a worthwhile experience they otherwise wouldn’t have had. It was really good for the children to see that, whilst upon immediate inspection the children had lots of differences, when they spoke to each other, got to know each other and asked questions, they found a whole host of similarities.
Pupils from Pleckgate High School and Roe Lee Park Primary School have also enjoyed an end of term celebration of their Schools Linking programme which brought together Year 7 pupils at Pleckgate with Roe Lee Park’s Year 6s.
They marked the end of their linking arrangement with an Interfaith Day supported by Blackburn with Darwen’s Interfaith Forum. Pupils studied a variety of religious artefacts and collaborated on artwork inspired by different religions.
Jenny Savage, Head of Religious Studies at Pleckgate High School, said:
47 Roe Lee pupils joined our Year 7s. It was a huge success and allowed pupils the opportunity to meet and converse with children and adults who, although may be different from them in some ways, also have lots of things in common.
Schools Linking in Blackburn with Darwen has brought together around 20 primary schools over the last two academic years. Around 1,000 pupils from both faith and non-faith schools and from different parts of the borough have made connections through the programme, supported by national charity The Linking Network.
From September, more schools will have the opportunity to take part in Schools Linking activities. The borough’s social integration programme, Our Community, Our Future, is supporting the activities, to get more pupils from diverse backgrounds learning together and forming friendships.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:
Children and young people are vital to the success of our social integration plans. That’s why one of the four priorities of the Our Community, Our Future programme focuses specifically on this age group. It’s so important that our young people have opportunities to grow up together and form friendships beyond the school they attend and their immediate neighbourhoods.
The Schools Linking work has proven to be a very successful way of breaking down any barriers between children from different cultural and religious backgrounds – while the children are enjoying one another’s company and learning from each other. Schools Linking has been nationally recognised as contributing to how schools can support their pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. I’m really pleased that we can offer the programme to more Blackburn with Darwen schools, and I hope they take the opportunity to get involved.
Schools who would like take part in Schools Linking activities in the 2019/20 academic year can get in touch with Ismail Hasham on 01254 585577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. During term time, contact Sharifa Valli on 01254 666462 or email email@example.com.