ISC's report of cross-sector partnerships between independent and and state schools was launched at the Celebrating Partnerships event held at Church House, Westminster on 13 September 2017. The Secretary of State for Education, MPs, members of the House of Lords and representatives from across the education sector attended this event to hear about the success of independent and state school partnerships.
At this event organised by the ISC, guests heard first-hand how partnerships between independent and state schools are creating learning opportunities for children across the country.
Speaking at the event, Justine Greening MP demonstrated her support for the thousands of partnership projects currently taking place, which are estimated to benefit 175,000 state pupils as well as many more thousands of independent school students.
ISC chairman, Barnaby Lenon, officially launched the organisation’s Celebrating Partnerships booklet, an annual report of cross-sector partnership work between independent and state schools.
In addition, Sir David Carter, the National Schools Commissioner, used the occasion to announce the formation of a new System Partnerships Unit at the Department for Education, which aims to help develop independent and state school partnerships and broker new initiatives between schools.
Sharing the stage with the Education Secretary, Mr Lenon and Sir David, were two teenage pupils, who gave their own personal accounts of how partnership projects and bursary schemes had given them educational opportunities to which they would not otherwise have been able to access.
Seventeen-year-old Isobel Imade, from Croydon, told how a partnership project between her state school and a nearby independent school enabled her to pursue her passion for drama.
The Year 13 pupil, who is studying English Literature, History, and Government and Politics, has also been able to study A-level drama thanks to a partnership between Harris Westminster Sixth Form and Westminster School, which makes its drama facilities and teachers available to Harris pupils.
Guests at the event also heard from a Year 12 student at Alleyn’s School, in Dulwich, who secured a place at the independent school five years ago through its bursary scheme. He said his education had played a huge part in moulding him into the young man he is today, adding: "I have been given opportunities that may be extremely hard to come by in other schools."
More examples of partnership working were shared by Leo Winkley, headmaster of independent school St Peter’s York, and Brian Crosby, principal at Manor Church of England Academy Trust state school. The pair spoke about the success of the York Independent State School Partnership (ISSP) – a partnership involving eight state schools and three independent schools.
Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, and Nick Brook, deputy general secretary at NAHT, also spoke at the event to endorse cross-sector partnership working. Ten thousand different partnerships now exist with state schools, a figure which is 7.5% higher than last year. The types of partnerships vary from academy sponsorship to seconding teaching staff, serving as governors at state schools and sharing facilities to partnering for activities and projects.
ISC chairman Barnaby Lenon said: "Partnerships between independent and state schools have historically been under-reported, but the fact of the matter is that there are a huge number of successful joint initiatives going on up and down the country, which create precious learning opportunities for many thousands of children.
"What’s more, independent schools wish to do even more. Alongside the ongoing development of partnership work with state sector colleagues, independent schools are widening access through transformational bursary schemes. Most bursaries are means-tested and most money is spent on those from the lowest income families. Manchester Grammar School, for example, has 220 boys on a bursary and the average bursary there is 93% of the fee."
Education Secretary Justine Greening said: "The benefits of partnership cut both ways. This isn't just about the independent sector working and helping to raise standards in the state sector. Actually, there are significant benefits for independent schools from being better linked in with the broader education system of which they are part.
"We as a government also recognise that different independent schools will be able to bring different things to working in partnership and that we shouldn't necessarily expect the same from all schools.
"For some schools, yes, we want to see them becoming sponsors, or opening a free school. For other schools, we want to see them playing a leadership role perhaps by having other involvement around school governance. For others, there are opportunities such as sharing expertise in subject areas or supporting teacher training."
Julie Robinson, ISC general secretary, said: "The typical ISC school is not a large school; it has just 165 pupils and is rural with children up to the age of 11 or 13. Large or small, schools are keen to actively support their local communities according to their capacity and particular strengths.
"Important partnership work is already underway, and together as a sector - and with the support of the Government - we can encourage the replication of successful initiatives across the country to further raise educational standards and increasingly make a difference to the lives of even more young people."