Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership
The Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership (SSLP) is the sum of our Partner (Southwark) and Associate Partner (neighbouring borough) schools. Our schools are both independent and state, and can be sole educators or part of multi academy trusts. What they have in common is a desire to work in partnership to increase opportunities for students in Southwark and for their classmates. We achieve this by providing academic and vocational opportunities both for students and for teachers, where each can learn with and from their peers. We learn together by sharing our common goals and challenges.
The SSLP priorities for 2020/21 are to enhance student voice and to encourage a partnership-wide conversation about race and racism in education. With all the opportunities Dulwich College provides this year we are striving to consider these priorities and how they can be central to our planning and delivery.
The SSLP welcomes schools with an ambition to work in partnership for the benefit of students from Southwark, and also their classmates. All schools aim to share and to learn from each other in equal measure.
The SSLP aims that teachers in our schools are in touch with one another and able to share their passion for their specialist subjects, exchange views about educational issues and share good practice.
The SSLP provides a diverse programme of opportunities that aims to inspire the aspirations of every student. By working together, and harnessing the student voice, we offer interactive opportunities.
The SSLP was established as a DFES London Challenge project in 2003.
It followed an initiative to promote the participation of independent and maintained schools in the challenge of raising the standards of all pupils across the capital – breaking the correlation between economic disadvantage and achievement.
Two headteachers, Marion Gibbs of James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) and Dr Irene Bishop of St Saviour’s & St Olave’s CE School (SSSO) founded the SSLP as the South London response, with funding from the DfES. The SSLP was also invited to participate as an informal associate of the National College for Schools Leadership’s Networked Learning Communities programme.
In 2015, when both Marion Gibbs and Dr Irene Bishop retired, the co-directorship moved to Dr Joseph Spence of Dulwich College and Grainne Grabowski of St Michael’s Catholic College (representing the independent and state schools respectively). In 2017 Catherine May of St Saviour’s & St Olave’s, assumed the role of co-director for state schools, taking over from Grainne Grabowski.
The Partner Schools involved have changed over the years as schools have faced their own challenges. In recent years the SSLP has introduced the category of Associate Partner as we welcome actively interested schools from outside the borough who, by means of public transport, offer good links with Southwark.
All schools in the SSLP commit an annual membership fee to fund some activities and the administration of the partnership. They also provide staff time from a dedicated link teacher for meetings and communication. Schools host events and provide resources for specific projects or activities.
The Master of Dulwich College is a co-director of SSLP, along with Catherine May from St Saviour's & St Olave's. The college also provides a part-time member of staff to coordinate the partnership.
SSLP activities run by The College staff in 2019/20 took place across many different disciplines. The Modern Languages department ran an Introduction to Arabic twilight programme over two terms in conjunction with SOAS. The Religion and Theology department ran an A-Level Conference for pupils considering their A Levels, this included a keynote speaker, two taster sessions and a Q&A opportunity. Our PE Department organised an afternoon’s CPD for staff from SSLP schools who wanted to improve the impact of their classroom-based theory lessons. The Art department lead a Creative Art hub with meetings for Art and DT teachers, an art lecture with Turner-prize winning artist Keith Tyson and organised the Take A Seat competition.
The College’s Staff Tutor also organised a programme of three evening CPD sessions for staff of all levels of experience; introduced by Jemima Rhys-Evans national practitioner for Marking and Workload. Unfortunately the third session was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The College considers participating in SSLP events as important to the partnership as instigating and organising activities. To this point out pupils participated in the SSLP Athletics competition, a friendly tournament with other schools held at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, and the inter-school photography competition which lasted for 5 months and encourage engagement from both staff and pupils. Our staff appreciated making contacts at the Middle Leader Training organised at James Allen’s Girls’ School. The College has traditionally leveraged connections with the Education Committees of several Livery Companies for the benefit of SSLP schools; this year the Worshipful Company of International Bankers charitable committee sponsored six SSLP schools to have five workshops from DebateMate and a training session for two teachers per school in order to establish in-school debating clubs. This should have culminated in a Debating competition at the end of March but this has had to be postponed. The College also introduced the SSLP to the Stuart Horne Foundation and to BASET (The Britain-Australia Society Education Trust), which would have allowed two pupils to go Canada and two to Australia, but unfortunately all trips were cancelled due to Covid-19. However, in response to the Covid-19 school closures the College began a series of online talks that pupils from partner schools could access at home on their own personal equipment. The Zoom webinar function was chosen as it met safeguarding and accessibility requirements.
SSLP monitors the impact of its activities by seeking feedback from staff and students. An annual report is produced which informs future planning.
A range of activities, both academic and vocational, are put on for students during a typical academic year. Pupils from years 7 to 13 have the opportunity to take part in lectures and seminars, conferences, science weeks, glee days, careers events etc.
Activities for pupils and teachers take place each term, hosted by different schools within SSLP. Link staff attend termly meetings and events and engage in ongoing visits and dialogues between schools.