The Linking Network

The Linking Network is a community of local linking programmes operating across England to support schools and their communities to develop a positive and cohesive ethos. They do this by exploring identity, celebrating diversity, promoting community and championing equality. There are currently 28 linking programmes in the Network reaching 30,000 children.

The Linking Network 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 network supports teachers to facilitate meaningful and positive sustained social mixing.

The programme operates through 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 network’s 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.

The programme is funded through investment by schools and local authorities and the Network funding from the Department for Education and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and core funding from Pears Foundation.

In addition to its schools linking programmes, The Linking Network develops and delivers training to school leaders and teachers on leading school culture and ethos for a cohesive society from curriculum to whole school. A wealth of evaluation studies consistently show the value of the work and can be viewed here. To find out more about The Linking Network, visit their membership page here.

Students on a Linking Network visit


Students from different schools working together


Teacher engagement through The Linking Network