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Schools Together Group virtual meeting May 2020

Date: Tuesday 19 May 2020 via Zoom
Organisers: Schools Together Group

Summary: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was not possible to welcome members of the Schools Together Group to the 4th Annual Conference as planned at The King’s School Canterbury. Instead a virtual webinar was arranged and we were delighted that over 130 school partnership professionals registered to come from schools of different phases, sectors and regions across the UK.

A keynote address was made by Andrew Lewer MBE MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Independent Education. He commended the work done by all schools in collaborating, especially state-independent school partnerships.

Twelve panellists were selected from the many involved in school partnerships who offered to contribute, and they shared their experiences of Partnerships in Isolation, the theme of the meeting. They were grouped in broad areas: careers, primary, academic and enrichment, and questions were asked from the ‘floor’ and answered by them.

Christina Astin, STG events sub-committee & King's School, Canterbury
Andrew Lewer MBE MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Independent Education
Anushka Chakravarty, London Academy of Excellence Stratford
Chris Wain, Shrewsbury School
Catherine Bennett, City of London Freemen's School
Brian Crosby, Hope Learning Trust York
Jeremy Thomas & Holly Irving, Abingdon School & Caldecott Primary School
Gordon Montgomery, OPEN Learning Partnership
Stephen Bovey , The London Academy of Excellence Tottenham
Ian Warwick, London Gifted & Talented
Fiona Carnie, Bristol Education Partnership
Peter Gritton, James Allen's Girls' School
Nicholas Dyson and Dave Shaw, Francis Holland Sloane Square & Spire Junior School
Sarah Butterworth, Chair of STG and Highgate School

Areas covered in the Q&A included:

  • the importance of school leaders collaborating to help with the difficult decisions associated with the pandemic
  • the widening gap in learning caused by differing access to online provision in lockdown and how schools might work together to narrow that gap
  • the legacy of online learning and training which might facilitate future partnerships by reducing the need to travel especially, for example, teacher cluster group meetings
  • the excellent sharing of well-being resources and help
  • innovative partnership input from experts including parents; virtual music-making; new projects around climate change

Two important announcements were made at the meeting:

  • Anushka Chakravarty (Assistant Head at London Academy of Excellence, Stratford) launched the Schools Together Group’s latest publication of which she is co-author: The Missing 2000. This refers to the estimated 2000 state school students who, with support from partnership intervention, would have a good chance of accessing a top university. Anushka co-authored this with Tom Arbuthnott (Deputy Head at Eton College). The Missing 2000 publication is available here.

  • Sarah Butterworth, Chair of the Schools Together Group (also Assistant Head at Highgate School) announced that after 4 years of the Group’s operation by its Steering Committee, it would be evaluating the move towards a professional structure under a new name: The School Partnerships Alliance (SPA). The transition to this new phase will be led by consultant Ian Davenport, formerly of Royal Springboard. Sarah welcomed Ian who then said a few words of introduction.

The meeting was chaired by Christina Astin, Founder-Chair of The Schools Together Group and now Chair of the Events Sub-Committee (also Head of Partnerships, The King’s School, Canterbury).

Christina thanked all the panellists and speakers, and the Steering Committee members who would continue to oversee Ian’s work, and everyone for attending.

A video recording of the meeting is available here.

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The Schools Together Group is a nationwide group of those in state and independent schools with an interest in inter-school partnerships: "Harnessing the power of partnerships for the benefit of children".