Earlier this month teachers from across the country travelled to 3FF’s offices in Kentish Town to take part in the first Continued Professional Development (CPD) training session of the year. The day marked the start of the seventh year of 3FF’s Faith School Linking programme, which unites students and teachers from different faith and community schools.

Teachers from pairs of schools that link with each other work together to plan memorable and thought-provoking activities for their students.

Nickita, Guru Nanak Sikh Academy: “We live in England, which is so diverse, and I think when they come out of school it’s going to be unnatural for them to adjust if they think that it’s just going to be their community and that is it. So it’s so important from this age to introduce them to this concept, because this is what the world is.”

Dani, Moriah Jewish Day School: “We can’t just sit around and think that everyone has to accept us … If you don’t choose to learn [about others] then you’re never going to know and you’re never going to understand.”

Eve, Sacred Heart Primary Catholic School: “The very best outcome is they make a friend for life that they remember meeting when they were nine years old. Someone they’ve got way more in common with [after Linking], but they have also learned to respect and admire and be inspired by all the differences that they’ve got. For the children you want to foster the art of diplomacy. The art of mutual respect. And also, not squash that natural curiosity and love of learning that we’re born with.”

Teachers who had previously taken part in linking described the personal growth they had seen in students.

Hayley, Central Primary School: “[After Linking] they can ask some questions which I think they may have found awkward to ask at the beginning. Over last year we watched them become much more confident, and feel ok to ask and answer these sort of questions that they wouldn’t have answered before.”

Many teachers found that their personal learning ambitions parallel what they hope the children will gain.

Bina, Krishna Avanti Primary School: “It’s also for my own personal growth. To meet new people, to share practices, to learn a little bit about something that we don’t apply and use in our school. So it’s a new experience.”

The relevance of interfaith relationships in UK society, which many of the teachers described as ‘diverse’, ‘multicultural’ and ‘varied’, came up several times.

Avital, Kerem School: “I don’t like the word ‘tolerance’ because it sounds like you’re putting up with something. We want empathy, understanding and equality.”

Eve, Sacred Heart Primary Catholic School: “I think nowadays, it’s hugely important [to build interfaith relationships], with the way that the world has developed, certainly through technologies. … It’s so easy to keep in touch, and build bridges with people half way across the planet. It’s so important to give children the confidence to take those trips, to visit those people, to learn other cultures, because it makes you a more broad, open-minded person. World peace, that’s what we’re going for!”

Any schools interested in getting involved in our School Linking programme please contact Sarah.