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Eastbourne Schools Partnership - collaborative practice

As both Head of Partnership and Head of the Arts Award Programme at Eastbourne College it is no surprise that I believe that Partnership working and creative approaches to curriculum design can not only embed creativity in our schools and outward into the wider community but that the breaking down of boundaries and thinking creatively has to be the way forward.

Eastbourne College was key in the setting up the Eastbourne School Partnership (ESP) in 2014. This was created with the intention of sharing good practise between the local schools/ colleges and developing projects and initiatives together. We have worked on a range of collaborative initiatives in the last five years and now encompass 12 schools including the sixth form college. We work together through teaching and learning initiatives, joint CPD sessions and also run conferences focusing on key educational topics. We aim to make a difference by working in an outward facing way with our partner schools. Our mission statement is:

‘By linking our resources, enthusiasm and commitment, we aim to develop projects and ideas that inspire, excite and offer creative opportunities for children and young people. In so doing we hope to enable our pupils to work together for mutual benefit and the benefit of others across our town. At the same time we wish to inspire and excite our staff by sharing good practice across the partnership, which will improve the delivery of education across all the schools.’

Our work is focused under the following key headings. We aim to:

·        Raise Aspiration – we do this through links with universities and running development programmes. We have recently run interactive workshops on routes into medicine and careers in the digital and creative industries. We also support Oxbridge applications and took a recent trip to visit Oxford Colleges.

·        Influence Change – we do this through projects that engage young people in the town through giving access to key opinion makers such as Council leaders and the local MP. Our recent “Your Ideas, Your Future…’ project is a key example of this. This project works with key community and business partners and is facilitated by Culture Shift. It is enabling young people to develop meaningful projects focused on where they live.

·        Challenge and Support – we do this by providing GCSE subject support through mentoring schemes. We also run a weekly homework club and provide opportunities for MFL pupils to have 1:1 sessions with native French, Spanish and German speakers. We also provide yearly motivational talks for Year 11 and run an annual initiative of outdoor tasks to enhance the self-esteem of 100+ hard to reach children who find life difficult. This also provides leadership opportunities for those senior pupils who help run this each year.

·        Provide CPD and share good practice – we do this through HOD’s hub meetings, NQT get together sessions, open INSET sessions across the schools and invitations to talks by key speakers. We have held recent conferences on moving into management positions that was attended by aspiring middle managers from across all our schools and on how to make Key Stage 3 as exciting as possible. Speakers have included Sir Mark Grundy and Professor Bill Lucas.

·        Improve Governance – we do this through staff from each partnership school being invited to sit on the governing bodies of other partnership schools. ESP HR managers also met to share good practice.

·        Offer enrichment and creativity - we work with international dance companies and other creative organisations to enable our young people to work together in exciting and innovative ways. We have a yearly residency by Rambert Dance Company and have worked with the Arensky Chamber Orchestra on a scratch symphony with over 100 young musicians from across the Partnership. We also provide platforms for young contemporary musicians to showcase their work.

·        Support community – we provide teams of waiters for our local hospice’s yearly charity ball. We are closely engaged in the Eastbourne Walking Festival and we undertake many charitable activities to raise money for our local community.

The Eastbourne Schools Partnership is an ongoing and developing group and is open to creative, meaningful and sustainable collaboration. A recent key project was our STEAM project that worked with STEM ambassadors from Sussex University and a creative partner, Photoworks. This was funded by Artswork and explored and celebrated work across disciplines encompassing science, technology and creativity.  This culminated in an excellent exhibition curated by Photoworks and encouraged continuing collaboration.

We work hard as a College at encouraging a wider cohort of pupils to embrace the creative arts. Our Arts Award programme integrates the arts into the L6 curriculum with over 35 pupils working towards Gold level. One recent project example was the Mary Lowndes project, which gave us the opportunity to integrate art, English, history, politics and textiles. Mary Lowdes, who it was discovered had designed the stained glass windows in the College chapel, formed the basis of a research project into this fascinating woman’s life. This included a visit to the Woman’s Library in London by a cohort of students. All this cross -curricular work culminated in an exhibition and was co-curated by an Arts Award pupil.

Throughout the Arts Award programme we have devoted sessions focusing on self-awareness as a creative practitioner alongside skills development. We also run sessions specifically focused on project management and the skills needed to work within and manage a team. We work with a professional management consultant, mentor and coach to deliver these sessions, which are invaluable in providing the ‘hammock’ within which the students creativity can flourish, whilst giving them the necessary tools that they need to make their ideas a reality in the context of the Arts Award journey. Our next mission is to take this programme into our partner schools.

‘Looking outward, thinking creatively, working together.’ My mantra…

Aims

‘By linking our resources, expertise, enthusiasm and commitment, we aim to develop projects and ideas that inspire, excite and offer creative opportunities for children and young people. In so doing we hope to enable our pupils to work together for mutual benefit and the benefit of others across our town. At the same time we wish to inspire and excite our staff by sharing good practice across the partnership which will improve the delivery of education across all the schools.‘

 The shared aim is the educational benefit of children based on a core belief that our schools serve all children better through cooperation and a recognition of the similarity of our objectives.

Background

Leading on from an initial meeting in March 2014, where four head teachers decided it would be a good idea to join forces to create a collaborative project that would inspire our young people, Eastbourne Schools Partnership (ESP) was formed. Having been one of the four founder members in 2013/14, during the course of this year Eastbourne College has seen the ESP grow to 13 schools. The Partnership now comprises ourselves, nine secondary schools for children aged 11+ and one sixth form college. In total, the schools between them account for over 15,000 children.  

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