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Schools joined-up for writing inspiration

Published Wednesday 27 November 2019 at 9:07

Pupils from two local primary schools got some inspiration to write spooky stories during a day spent together at Turton Tower.

The historic 16th  century building was the setting for the first Schools Linking day between St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in Darwen and St Michael with St John CE Primary School in Blackburn.

Year 4 classes from both schools are taking part in the Schools Linking programme, funded through Blackburn with Darwen’s social integration programme, Our Community, Our Future.

Schools Linking is all about giving schools in different parts of the borough opportunities to meet up and collaborate on learning activities that explore themes around identity and belonging.

At their creative writing inspiration day last week, pupils enjoyed exploring rooms at Turton Tower and listening to tales of spooky goings-on there.

Getting to know you activities in pairs encouraged the eight and nine year olds to think about their identity, which helped them create characters for their own short stories.

Tamzin Royale, Year 4 teacher at St Michael with St John’s, said:

The children were a little nervous before we arrived as they didn’t know what to expect. The set-up of the day helped the children immensely by starting with a shared experience of the mystery tales. This enabled them to have conversations with their new friends when they got into partners.

Our children were disappointed when the day ended, but are excited to meet up with their St Cuthbert’s friends again in the spring term.

Levi Wolfenden, Year 4 teacher at St Cuthbert’s, said:

The children really engaged with the whole experience and quickly got to know their new friends. Meeting in a neutral environment was a big help in breaking the ice. Looking around the building together was a good way to start our first linking day. It’s been a fantastic experience for my class.

Young pupil Noorulain from St Michael & St John CE Primary School commented:

I feel happy because we got to play with each other and learn new things and talk to different people. Turton Tower is a great place to have fun with other people. They told us interesting stories.

Hear from more pupils from St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School and St Michael with St John CE Primary School talking about their feelings before and after their Schools Linking experience, in this short video. 

The pupils will meet several times throughout the academic year for activities that aim to help build bridges between children from different cultural backgrounds. In between visits, the schools will send each other pieces of work the pupils have created for their new friends.

St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School and St Michael with St John CE Primary School aren’t the only primary schools meeting up for the first time this term. A total of 54 schools across the borough are taking part in the Schools Linking programme during this academic year, supported by national charity The Linking Network.

The borough’s social integration programme, Our Community, Our Future, is funding the Schools Linking activities, to help more pupils from diverse backgrounds have opportunities to learn together and form friendships.

Jayne Ivory, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Director of Children’s Services & Education, said:

It’s so important that children growing up in different parts of Blackburn with Darwen have chances to come into contact to learn from one another, to explore different cultures and religions, and to make friends. Schools Linking activities are a really fun and engaging way to do this, while being relevant to the curriculum and supporting other work pupils are doing in class.

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 Blackburn with Darwen schools, and that so many are taking part this year.

Schools that haven’t already signed up to the Schools Linking programme can still get involved. Teachers can get in touch with Sharifa Valli in Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Children’s Services on 01254 666462 or sharifa.valli@blackburn.gov.uk, or Ismail Hasham in the Social Integration team (01254 585577 or ismail.hasham@blackburn.gov.uk.

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