The Waltham Forest School Linking Programme was launched in 2017 and is led by The Faith & Belief Forum, the UK’s leading interfaith charity.
Run as part of The Linking Network, the programme matches students from different cultural or faith backgrounds to explore issues of identity, community and belief based on the students’ lived experiences.
The programme currently works with a mix of faith and non-denominational schools; ten primary schools and four secondary schools and is supported by the Waltham Forest Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE). The project’s primary focus is the organisation of three ‘link’ days where pupils from partner schools take turns in hosting a get together at a mutually accessible and neutral venue. In addition to this, teachers are supported in attending three interfaith dialogue facilitation CPD training days per year.
This was a reminder that we share similarities and that we are able to live with tolerance and respect with our differences
Through exploring questions such as ‘who am I?’, ‘who are we?’ or ‘how do we live together?’, the programme aims to equip teachers and learners with the tools and language needed to sensitively navigate difference and to meaningfully celebrate diversity.
After the programme, teachers reported an increase in the confidence, empathy, self-awareness and religious literacy in their students, in addition to the development of their own intercultural dialogue facilitation skills. In addition to this, the programme also successfully helped schools in the provision of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC), Religious Education (RE) and Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE).
It was an opportunity to learn how [the students] are similar and different, as well as what is important for their identity
The localised model of the Waltham Forest programme enables schools to build on relationships formed through local authority initiatives, strengthen local interfaith capacity and work collaboratively across shared contexts.
Pupils were enthused about learning more about Christianity, now that they have friends from a Catholic School. All staff and pupils have had [...] a truly enriching experience
To learn more about this fantastic project or how you can take part, contact Sarah Koster, Education and Learning Manager at The Faith & Belief Forum: firstname.lastname@example.org.