Schools Together Group Conference - Inspiring School Partnerships
The Schools Together Group summer conference was organised this year at Eton College on May 24 2017 and was aimed at those interested in building partnership programmes in the independent and the state sector.
Organised by the Schools Together Group as part of their termly programme of events.
Over 150 colleagues from a wide variety of schools converged on 24th May to share their experiences of and learn more about school partnerships. Organised by the Schools Together Group as part of their termly programme of events, and generously hosted by Eton College, the programme offered no less than 20 workshops, preceded by a keynote speaker session and concluding with a panel discussing impact measurement. The all-important networking took place over lunch.
Most of the delegates attending were new to their professional responsibility for engaging with other schools.
The workshops were led by those with experience of running successful inter-school partnerships, outlining projects ranging from sport, science and music to university aspiration, initial teacher training and sponsoring new schools. They offered not only inspiration but also down-to-earth practical suggestions about how to set up new partnership projects; as a staff member from King Edward’s School, Birmingham put it: “Vision is vital but don’t forget the lavatories”! As well as sharing the ‘how’, some speakers went into the ‘why’ of partnering with local schools, and the benefits accruing to both partners. The former Headmaster of Eastbourne College, cited murder as the unlikely analogy for partnership: “you need motive, means and opportunity”!
The keynote speakers set the tone for the day. The Head Master of the London Academy of Excellence, described the importance of matching needs and skills between partner schools. The Headmaster of Bedales School and Chair-Elect of HMC, shared his reservations about a one-size-fits-all model of partnership and the often-held assumption that certain schools can ‘help’ other schools, whereas a two-way relationship is vital to the success of any partnership. Mr Lucas rounded up the keynote session by presenting the initial findings of his research [which can be downloaded from www.etoncollege.com/cirlresearch.aspx] which it is hoped will lead to a toolkit for schools to use to measure the impact of school partnerships.
The closing session took this topic further, with the panel addressing questions from the conference about impact evaluation. The Head Master of Eton College, Ms Wespieser from the National Foundation for Education Research and Mr Greany from UCL Institute of Education, agreed that evaluating partnerships was complex but could be carried out with a light touch, as long as it addressed the aims of any collaboration.
In her closing remarks, the founder-Chair of the Schools Together Group and Head of Partnerships at The King’s School, Canterbury, emphasised the importance of appreciating mutual benefit between schools, even if it not at first obvious. She thanked all the speakers, hosts and delegates and wished them success as they took away their to-do lists from the day’s stimuli.
The event was free to attend - Eton College did not charge for catering or use of the facilities.