Learning brings town and country together

Take a class to a toy museum and they will have a good time learning about the history of toys. Take them back a second time and they can build up a relationship with the site and help others to learn, perhaps by making books for other visitors to use. But take them there with another school and they can also make friends with children who come from very different backgrounds.

So it was that pupils from Years 5 and 6 at Peartree community school in inner-city Derby shared a project and lunch with children from the rural Church Broughton primary school. Now they'll visit each other's schools to develop their working relationship.

The toy museum in question is in Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire. The venue was also the elegant setting for the launch of the National Trust's Schools Partnership Programme in May. The programme will link properties with a rural and an urban school and use sponsorship money from the housebuilding firm Redrow plc to help with transport and staffing and to bring in other professionals for support. Extra funds will come from Arts and Business, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to build creative relationships between business and the arts. The pupils are also working with local artist Steve Coley on a mural project.

Shirley Smith, headteacher at Church Broughton, says: "It's providing the pupils with a lot of opportunities they wouldn't otherwise experience, and allowing them to visit schools that are much more diverse than we are. They'll see their work and ideas on public display, and that encourages them to go home and talk about what they're doing."

The National Trust has a guardianship scheme, sponsored by Norwich Union, in which one of its properties builds up a relationship with a local school. But the idea of linking urban and rural schools was boosted last year by restrictions introduced by the foot and mouth outbreak.

"It's good for social activities and PSHE," says Cynthia Slater, a teacher at Peartree community school. "The National Trust has been wonderful, and Redrow treated the children like royalty."

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