We are delighted to announce that Heather McKissack has been awarded an MBE for Services to Education. In her time as senior mistress at Kings' College School, Wimbledon, Heather was in charge of Partnerships and Outreach. In 2003 she and Carole Campbell, then head of Coombe Girls’ School, established one of the most principled, wide-ranging and effective independent-state school partnerships in the country. Known as the Wimbledon Partnership, this ensures that King’s enjoys strong relationships with seven maintained secondary schools in South West London. Activities include management training, teacher-training, mentoring of heads of department and weekly GCSE classes for around 200 partner school students every spring term. Based on the principle of mutual benefit, Heather’s approach has always been to ask what our schools can learn from each other.
One of the key elements of the partnership is a mentoring programme in which over 100 of our sixth-formers support the teaching of academic subjects to younger pupils at the partner schools every Friday in term-time. This saw the introduction of Latin in the form of a weekly taster class for Year 7 pupils at Coombe Girls’ School, and other activities now include Mandarin classes for pupils from Ursuline High School, GCSE Maths mentoring at Ricards Lodge High School and support for pupils from St Mark’s Academy who do not have English as their first language.
In 2009 Heather launched a unique programme for students in Years 9-12 at all the partner schools called the Aspirations Project. Each year this gives 70 students on Free School Meals whose parents have not been in Higher Education the chance to attend a three-year programme of classes, excursions and university visits which culminates in a Preparing for University Day. She also encouraged the creation of the ground-breaking Junior Aspirations Project, in which Year 5 pupils at primary schools attend a year of weekly classes designed to prepare them for entry to selective senior schools.
The schools of the Wimbledon Partnership are Coombe Girls’ School, Coombe Boys’ School, Grey Court School, King’s College School, Raynes Park High School, Ricards Lodge High School, St Mark’s Church of England Academy and Ursuline High School. On behalf of all the partner schools, we offer Heather our sincerest thanks and warmest congratulations.