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Tuesday, 07 March 2017
Following on from the inaugural Schools Together conference in November 2016 in London, the second meeting, held at Bolton School, focused on measuring the impact of partnerships between state and independent schools.
Philip Britton, Headmaster of Bolton School Boys’ Division, welcomed an audience of headteachers, teachers and partnership coordinators and stressed how partnership really works, not when it is forced upon a school by external parties but when it is truly embedded in the culture and ethos of the school. Partnerships, he felt, should be collaborative and should be measurable within defined timescales. Partnership work, he went on to say, is not about independent schools ticking boxes but should be an arrangement which mutually benefits both parties.
Ceri Jones of Caterham School from South London reflected on all that he had learnt from partnership work both at his current school and at Tonbridge School. He spoke of the different forms of partnership that he had been involved in, namely bi-lateral co-sponsorship, group collaboration, informal collaboration and co-sponsorship between schools. He recapped just some of the forms that partnership can take, including e-mentoring, aspirational visits, cultural collaboration, sports coaching, university access programmes, careers guidance, academic teaching and science outreach.
Mike Bourne, an expert in Research and Evaluation from the Department of Education, spoke about the holy grail of measuring outcomes from partnerships. In an enlightening session, he emphasised the importance of keeping it simple and making sure you know what you want to get out of the project from the start and what evidence you need collect to compare before and after measurements. He spoke about the Magenta Book, which is the recommended central government guidance on evaluation, but conceded that the practical reality, due to time pressures, is that most schools tend to use the “measure at the start” against the “measure at the end” form of assessment.
David Ellis, Headteacher of York High School and Lynn Williams, Headteacher of St Peter’s CE Primary School Farnworth both spoke about the Independent State School Partnerships that they are involved in before Christina Astin, Chair of the Schools Together Group, led an instructive panel discussion, which included discussion on the different forms of partnership and how best to measure their success.
The event followed on from an afternoon workshop at the School which had seen adults and 45 local pupils reflect on their volunteering work in school.
The Schools Together Group is an informal group comprising those in state and independent schools who are responsible for coordinating inter-school partnerships.
The next Schools Together meeting will take place next week at King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham. Further details are here.
Further information on the Schools Together Group can be found here.
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