The Linking Network

Helping children, young people and adults to explore and celebrate identity, diversity and community.

Pears Foundation’s generous practical support has made a huge difference to the Linking Network. Their commitment in providing long term unrestricted core funding, especially at a pivotal moment, gave us the confidence and space to develop our work. This freed us up to develop and test approaches to training teachers, modelling good practice and linking schools so that young people can explore complex questions of identity, diversity and community and how to live together well. We have been encouraged by the Pears Foundation’s practical, active engagement in our work, visiting school links, promoting our work to others and acting as critical friends.
Meg Henry and Linda Cowie,
The Linking Network is an example of what can be achieved when you are able to give skilled, experienced individuals the time and flexibility to explore and address complex issues. Meg and Linda’s thoughtful and considered approach to the challenges facing their local community in Bradford has given their work a depth and quality that is deceptively simple. Their collaborative approach to sustainable expansion is rare, and we hope the network will continue to grow, providing young people across the UK with much-needed opportunities to build relationships and work together.
Bridget Kohner,
Deputy Director

Partner since: 2015

Funding invested: £1.5million

  • Core: Unrestricted funding

Who am I? Who are we? Where do we live? How do we all live together?

These are vital questions for children and young people in the UK, who are negotiating an increasingly complex society. They are also challenging questions that lead to difficult conversations that teachers do not always feel confident or equipped to tackle within the classroom.

Pears Foundation supports organisations that create spaces and teach skills for difficult conversations and The Linking Network is one of our most important partnerships in this area.

Based in Bradford, The Linking Network works to develop and deepen young people’s knowledge and understanding of identity, diversity, equality and community, creating space for discussion of these issues within the school curriculum and supporting teachers to address them.

There is strong evidence that high levels of meaningful contact between people from different backgrounds can reduce prejudice; increase trust and understanding between groups and lead to a greater sense of togetherness.  The Linking Network’s flagship schools linking programme provides a structured programme of training, resources and support to enable schools to build high quality links.  It enables children to develop skills of enquiry, critical thinking, reflection and communication, as well as providing the opportunity for children and young people to meet, build new relationships, work together and contribute to the wider community.

The Linking Network facilitates links in 700 schools for over 30,000 young people across 29 local authority areas in England including Burnley, Luton, Bury, Kirklees and Rochdale. It also provides wider support for schools and teachers through lesson plans, curriculum resources, school ethos audits and networking as well as programmes for dialogue about difficult conversations and common ground.

Pears Foundation provided the initial core funding to establish The Linking Network in 2015 and has given unrestricted funding consistently since then, supporting schools linking in partnership with the Department for Education and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, building on previous linking work in Bradford. Alongside the Linking Network we also support integrated education in Northern Ireland and in Israel.