Aims of the project
· To develop a mutually beneficial partnership between the two schools with a particular focus on teaching and learning.
Background and goals
The project came about when Rob Southwell-Sander from Abingdon outlined a need to develop partnerships with local schools to ensure we fulfil a positive role in our local community and to forge an effective working partnership with local state schools. He approached Fitzharrys in May 2013 and with support from both SLTs and in particular with the help of Assistant Head of Fitzharrys Will Speke initial ideas about a partnership were explored.
The resources that are critical for success in first and foremost a dedicated role within each school where time and financial support is set aside to ensure the partnership runs smoothly. There needs to be high level buy in from both school and staff who get involved need to be supported in terms of providing cover as and when necessary but also using the partnership with the current CPD programme. Time commitments can include a few hours over the course of a few weeks where observations are done and meetings held as well as 'thinking and reflecting' time.
We are using Zoe Elder's Action Based Research to try and get staff members to explore an area of teaching and learning and to collaboratively explore best practice in each school as part of continued professional development. Some projects have involved an element of assessment such as student surveys but I would have to say the main impact has been by focussing on the benefits of reflective practice. In the 4th year the project focussed on student collaboration and evolved into a 6th form academic mentoring project in maths and science.
In our first year we had a 6th form class from Abingdon help a year 9 class from Fitzharrys interpret Homer's Illiad as part of a drama workshop, in the second year we involved year 7/8 students in a collective drama production of some PSCHE topics. We also plan in future to try and exploit our new science facilities to do a joint science project but this is has yet to get off the ground.
Frequency and duration
Teachers from both schools meet formally 3 times a year and then organise individual lesson observations and 1 to 1 meetings when focussing on their areas of practice to work on. We then have a presentation evening at the end of the year where pairings or groups show their learning journey and how their practice has changed/improved. This is presented to colleagues, SLT and governors. The project has since evolved to include two other local secondary schools, Larkmead and John Mason.