The six schools which make up the Batley Multi Academy Trust (MAT) sit at the centre of diverse, multicultural communities in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. Traditionally, whilst these schools are united, there were divisions in the wider communities across the geographical area they serve. In order to address this, the schools have been proactively developing a range of community activities which bring people from different backgrounds together.
Many of these activities come under the banner of the Great Get Together, the annual campaign inspired by Jo Cox’s message that we have ‘more in common than that which divides us’. Jo was the local MP for Batley and the MAT has been working hard to build on her legacy by increasing the number of community projects it takes part in each year. Some of these events are organised by other community groups such as the annual ‘Run for Jo’, while others are run by the schools themselves.
Here’s an outline of some of the activities the schools have run through the Great Get Together, showing how the campaign can be used as an activation point to bring together the wider community and build a positive school culture:
Batley Bake Off
Every year, Upper Batley High School hosts the Batley Bake Off, inviting anyone who lives in the local area to bake a ‘birthday cake’ for Jo Cox which celebrates her ‘more in common’ message. This is a fantastic, simple way for the community to come together around a shared endeavour – and one that unites different cultures; food!
Intergenerational Get Together
Healey Schools have developed their Great Get Together events to be intergenerational and to encourage young people to ask questions of the elders in their community about what life used to be like in Batley. It also encourages young people to voice their own opinions about what life could be like in the future. Young people outline their exciting ideas for their town moving forwards and hear ideas about the past and present from the older generation. It’s a superb way to tackle loneliness for older people within the community, and for those new to the area.
Step into the Future
Each year, the Multi-Academy Trust hosts an annual transition event for Year 6 and Year 7 pupils called ‘Step into the Future’. Approximately 1000 young people from 21 different primary and secondary schools come together to take part in a parade through the streets of Batley following a Samba band. They then take part in a range of team building and engaging activities to learn more about each other, their respective cultures and backgrounds.
The World Reimagined
Eight Upper Batley High School students from Years 7-11 were selected to take part in an art project called The World Reimagined. The project attempted to transform the students’ understanding of the trans-atlantic slave trade and its impact on us all; exploring shared history and ideas around racial justice.
After this, they were asked to decorate a fibreglass globe sculpture to carry a message of social justice and community. They added written quotes, sayings and visual representations of their ideas. It is now displayed at Upper Batley High School to celebrate that we have far more in common than that which divides us. The sculpture is on display in front of the school’s main entrance to continue to share the young people’s message of hope for the future, for a ‘World Reimagined’ and how we can all be the change we wish to see in the world.
Outreach work continues throughout the year, with each school hosting regular ‘Stronger Together’ groups which unite parents, carers and staff to work on all aspects of education and school life. Other projects are focused around the summer and winter Great Get Togethers. These campaigns offer focused periods in which the schools can run specific, themed activities such as street parties and community events.
All of this work has built an extensive community network around the schools and helped them to develop into central community hubs. It has also contributed to developing a strong, shared culture across all the schools in the MAT, built around the ‘more in common’ message with values like openness, honesty, integrity and respect. This culture is recognised more widely, both by external assessment and the communities they’re based in, helping the schools to unify their students and reach the high standards they expect of themselves.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with your own school Great Get Together, visit our school resources page.