From education to employment

Charities join forces to raise awareness of the positive impact of school partnerships

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A new report today sets out the value and impact of effective and meaningful partnerships between state and independent schools.

The report demonstrates how partnering together to tackle regional challenges achieves greater opportunities for all pupils than schools could do on their own.

The charity School Partnerships Alliance (S.P.A.), founded in 2021, teamed up with The Partnering Initiative (TPI), a non-profit founded in 2003, to demonstrate the power of cross-sector partnerships between different organisations.

Together they have produced School Partnerships for Impact, which promotes the benefits of meaningful partnerships between different schools across the state and independent sectors and starts to build a common framework for how schools can become involved in one or make an existing one even more powerful. It pieces together established best practice to develop a clear model to demystify how partnerships work for schools interested in these types of collaborations.

It also demonstrates the value and impact which can be created through effective partnering, provides the rationale for dedicating a school’s limited time and resources needed to maximise the impact of collaborative relationships and serves as the foundation upon which S.P.A. will work with schools to create a shared approach to partnering.

The report recognises partnerships come in many shapes and sizes. But the most important factor is they are mutually productive for all schools involved and make a materially positive difference to the educational, social and employment outcomes and opportunities of the pupils educated across them.

Examples of impactful school partnership work highlighted in the report include:

• STEM teacher recruitment: To address recruitment challenges for teaching roles in specialist subjects, a partnership between local primary, junior and senior state schools and Royal Grammar School, Newcastle (RGS) secured funding from a range of sources including local and national foundations, charities and businesses to recruit specialist partnership teachers, starting with Maths and Physics.

The teachers, recruited through RGS Newcastle to benefit all schools in the partnership, had 60 to 80 per cent of their capacity allocated for partner schools, and were able to offer daytime classes as well as after school clubs, webinars and professional development. Based on the success of the first two years, the partnership then recruited a Robotics teacher for the current academic year.

The partnership was able to secure funding which individual schools could not have secured alone and this innovative form of recruitment meant schools across the partnership had access to specialised teaching they would not have otherwise been able to afford and might have had difficulties recruiting for on their own. This addressed issues with recruiting specialist teachers and benefitted pupils in schools across the region through an expanded curriculum and increased GCSE choices.

• Post-16 provision: Feltham College, based at Reach Academy, has its foundations in a six-year partnership between Reach Academy and local independent schools Hampton School and Lady Eleanor Holles School. The independent schools directly support A level provision in Feltham College, and the College is also supported by vocational partners including Kingston University and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to enhance the experience of students through their careers expertise, mentoring and work experience placements.

This partnership work supports the College’s aim to be a centre of academic and vocational excellence at the heart of the town, playing a key role in rejuvenating a historically deprived area that has experienced significant pandemic-related job losses. The partnership hopes its innovative approach could provide a helpful blueprint for other areas of the UK seeking to boost post-16 provision.

• Business and entrepreneurial skills: York Independent State School Partnership (ISSP) brings together ten state secondary schools and three independent schools on a number of initiatives. York ISSP’s latest project, in conjunction with the University of York and the Company of the Merchant Adventurers of the City of York, is an innovative Business and Enterprise project designed for 40 Year 10 pupils from across the city.

Pupils will build a business from scratch by doing everything from identifying a need, to designing a product, to marketing it – which will culminate in a presentation to York business leaders at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall later this academic year. This project gives pupils an exciting opportunity to think laterally like entrepreneurs and be mentored in real-life settings.

The full report is available at:

Baroness Barran MBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for the School System and Student Finance), said:

“As Minister for the School System and Student Finance, I am delighted to support the work of the School Partnerships Alliance. In my visits to schools, I’ve seen the benefit that mutually supportive schools can create to improve the lives and opportunities of children across the whole education system.

“The School Partnerships Alliance seeks to encourage further schools to participate in partnerships with real purpose. We know that partnerships are at their best when they involve all types of schools working together to achieve ambitious outcomes for all children and I am sure that the ‘School Partnerships for Impact’ guide will become a very useful tool for schools seeking practical support and looking to understand the key to building truly successful partnerships.

“I am keen to see more schools across the independent and state school sectors engaging in partnership working and look forward to seeing the positive outcomes I know the sector can achieve with the support of the School Partnerships Alliance.”

Sue Riley, Chief Executive Officer of the School Partnerships Alliance, said:

“The School Partnerships Alliance (S.P.A.) is the membership organisation dedicated to researching, enabling and promoting meaningful partnerships between schools across the state and independent sectors for the benefit of children throughout the education system.

“We are delighted to publish our new report highlighting the impact school partnerships make in innovative ways throughout the schools sector. We look forward to working with the sector to be a force for school improvement and the strongest outcomes for all children, informed by research and driven by impact.”

Darian Stibbe, Executive Director of The Partnering Initiative, said:

“At a time when the state education sector is increasingly short on funding and resources, we were delighted to find so many examples of innovative partnerships delivering real impact for schools and for students. There is huge potential to super-charge collaboration in the sector, aligning and combining collective resources that can deliver far more than the sum of their parts.

“We are delighted to work as partner to S.P.A. to help the sector overcome the challenges and unleash the opportunities that collaboration can create.”

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