The Schools Linking Network (SLN) was established in 2007, with the support of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Pears Foundation, to work with schools, local authorities and non-governmental organisations across England.
The Schools Linking Project was first initiated by Angie Kotler, beginning in two schools in the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council in 2001, and rapidly grew into a district-wide programme. In 2006 the project was piloted in Tower Hamlets.
SLN was established to help young people and communities engage with issues of identity, diversity, equality and community, and to develop inter-cultural dialogue and active citizenship.
When it comes to community cohesion, my argument is that a body of work is developing, that it is important, and that it needs support and direction. The official duty to promote it may fade, but I believe that in the 21st century it must be a moral imperative for those working with young people. Sir Keith Ajegbo, Patron, SLN
In February 2012 Angie stepped down as chief executive in order to focus more closely on research into the teaching and learning of young people. Dave Norman was appointed as the new chief executive, and he continues to develop the work of SLN in partnership with colleagues around the country.
The establishment of SLN followed two reports to government, recommending that school linking should be widely disseminated across the country. The first report by Sir Keith Ajegbo was a review of diversity and citizenship in the curriculum, and the second one was from the Commission for Integration and Cohesion.
Curriculum Review: Diversity and Citizenship, produced by Sir Keith Ajegbo in January 2007
Our Shared Future, Commission on Integration and Cohesion, produced by DCLG
The reports found that the model of school linking already established in Bradford met both criteria of working within the curriculum and bringing communities together. The SLN model supports schools, local authorities and non-governmental organisations to assess local cohesion and achievement issues around the country, and to design appropriate and successful linking work within the national curriculum to address these issues.
In the changing educational context, the SLN model is continuing to support schools to address key areas of social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) development. This is a crucial element in the overall judgment on schools’ effectiveness as outlined in the new Ofsted framework.
School leaders and local authority colleagues are working with SLN to provide clear guidance for schools on how best to meet this demand. SLN’s work also helps schools to meet the requirements of the Equalities Act.