Excellence and Aspiration Collaboration
Staff and students of Berkhamsted School enjoy a partnership with Chiltern Learning Trust in and around Luton, Bedfordshire. Berkhamsted School is an independent school in Hertfordshire operating a diamond structure, being formed of co-educational Prep schools and a Pre-Prep, a Boys’ School and Girls’ School for pupils aged 11 to 16 years, and a co-educational Sixth Form. Berkhamsted School was founded in 1541 and celebrated its 475th anniversary in 2015-16.
The Chiltern Learning Trust comprises Ardley Hill Academy, Cedars Upper School, Challney High School for Boys, Challney High School for Girls, Denbigh High School, Dallow Primary School, Lark Rise Academy, Linslade School, Marston Vale Middle School and Putteridge High School. It is also a member of the Challenge Partners network with the ‘Denbigh Hub’ being one of only a small number of hubs across the country. These networks provide a structured and sustained approach to school improvement through training and developing teachers, peer review, school-to-school support and joint practice and leadership development. Denbigh is the highest performing secondary school in Luton.
The Aim of the project is for students and staff of Chiltern Learning Trust and Berkhamsted to benefit from working with each other in a mutually beneficial partnership. This hopes to give students and staff collaborative opportunities, and in so doing seeks to offer them experiences outside their own locality and school environment.
This partnership occurred because Denbigh High School contacted Berkhamsted in 2016 to explore whether there could be any opportunities for the two schools to collaborate in ways that might help to raise the aspirations and ambitions of Denbigh High School pupils.
Both schools have committed significant resources to our partnership, particularly in terms of providing staff, premises and students to ensure that the opportunities are fully taken advantage of. There has been some shared funding of these projects. Berkhamsted have also committed funds to provide bursaries to successful applicants from Chiltern Learning Trust into Y12 at Berkhamsted School.
The following examples of our shared work demonstrate the impact and reach of this partnership:
In September 2018-21, Berkhamsted School has welcomed 31 Denbigh High School students to Berkhamsted Sixth on fully funded bursaries following their successful selection during the bursary application process. The programme has been a great success and the former Denbigh High School students have settled in well. In addition to the fully-funded bursary, Berkhamsted has assisted the bursary students with other associated costs of attending, including uniform, transport, trips and courses. From October 2021, this scheme has been extended to students across the whole of Chiltern Learning Trust, and ten places have been offered for entry in September 2022.
Since 2017 Denbigh High School staff have attended twilight INSET courses provided by Berkhamsted and similarly Berkhamsted staff have attended twilight INSET courses provided by Denbigh. The feedback from those involved at both schools has been positive and suggests that everyone’s experience has been enhanced by the presence of teachers from a different context.
The Religion and Philosophy departments at the two schools have linked with a view to sharing resources and organising occasions for some pupils from each school to discuss the content of their GCSE courses. Some mutual lesson observations and sharing of resources has already taken place.
Berkhamsted Outdoor Education Department hosted Denbigh High School’s ‘Raise Group’ for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition. One colleague from Denbigh also qualified as a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessor at a course hosted by Berkhamsted at the Pre Prep site.
The Careers Departments at the two schools have linked and shared resources. Denbigh High School staff and Year 10 pupils attend the Berkhamsted Careers and Higher Education Fair. In addition to sharing expertise and collaboration in careers the two schools have shared insight on issues relating to pastoral support, behaviour sanctions and the House system.
The Denbigh High School cricket teams have visited Berkhamsted to contest some exciting cricket matches. The two schools’ Physical Education Departments have worked well together, including the running of a “cricket masterclass”, where nearly 40 Denbigh High School pupils came to Berkhamsted for a day of cricket, using the cricket nets and bowling machine in the morning and then playing fixtures after lunch.
There has been ongoing collaboration between the two schools’ Drama departments with the sharing of good practice, and moderation on GCSE work, including Denbigh High School pupils attending a production at Berkhamsted.
Pupils from Years 7 to 13 from both schools are involved in our shared projects.
This is an ongoing partnership with the intention of all the activities either happening annually or being superseded by new projects between the schools as deemed most beneficial by the two staff responsible for the link. In addition, it is Berkhamsted’s intention to continue to encourage bursary applications from Chiltern Learning Trust’s ambitious and able pupils.