East Kent Schools Together (EKST)
With the aim of widening horizons and raising aspirations East Kent Schools Together runs a programme of events for students and teachers, enabling them to learn from each other.
East Kent Schools Together aims:
For students, it’s all about meeting new people and learning new skills – with the ultimate aim of improving confidence, resilience, well-being and their sense of community. Students from state schools and independent schools rub shoulders together with university students and learn about each other’s challenges and aspirations. Barriers are broken, and expectations shifted.
For teachers we have built powerful networks across the region, with colleagues from state and independent sectors learning more from each other than perhaps they initially expected. Subject cluster groups have been established, sharing resources and good ideas, especially against the backdrop of new exam courses.
A unique partnership
It is our focus on soft skills; building resilience, improving well-being and creating a greater sense of community which makes our partnership different to many but also we are unique in that our partners come from a wide geographical spread, with over 20 miles between some. The addition of our HE partner adds a unique dimension allowing us to impact on raising aspirations, expose our students to positive role modelling and benefit from the support of undergraduate ambassadors at our events – benefiting all involved.
From inception in 2017, our partners have sought to be open about their strengths and areas for development, and an awareness that we all have something to learn from others, whether state schools, independent, schools or a university. We work hard to ensure our programme is inclusive and sensitive of partners’ differing situations. This has led to a successful and growing programme of events for pupils; a partnership choir, an outdoor learning day, a pastoral well-being event, a confidence building sports event at the local leisure centre, the student voice and a bake off. For teachers there are shared CPD sessions, subject clusters to share best practice, and a focus on upskilling colleagues where possible.
Our impact evaluation demonstrates not only an increase in wellbeing, resilience and confidence in those that are attended our events but more so in those that attended more than one event. We aim to continue to embed and extend our programme with more interventions that will allow for our impact to deepen over the coming years. By continuing to evaluate, and with a culture of expectation and structured governance within our partner schools, we will continue to adapt and respond to the needs to our partners to ensure real impact.
The EKST governance is clearly set out in an MoU and operates with a clear structure centrally administered by a part-time Coordinator. The structure includes a Heads Group that decides priorities for the programme, the Management Group that is essential for ongoing communication between schools, the Finance Group that stewards funds and audits the accounts and the Student Voice Group made up of students from each partner to influence the priorities from their view point.