King’s College Wimbledon Director of Partnership & Outreach Peter Hatch on the value brought by working together with the local community

At King’s, we are proud of the dedicated community partnerships we have developed over the past 30 years. Working closely with colleagues at 33 local maintained secondary, primary, special and sixth forms schools, we were able to support over 2,370 young people in the last year alone. In addition, through our work with local charities and community groups, we run intergenerational initiatives to benefit both young and old.

Spearheaded by the late Heather McKissack, a much-loved teacher here who was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to education, our school partnerships aim not just to educate but to empower. We believe in the transformative power of partnerships and the many benefits of embracing diverse perspectives. To enable this, we have built our partnerships programme into the very core of our curriculum, with Friday afternoons dedicated to these activities. The 50+ projects we run involve over 400 of our pupils each week.

King's College Wimbledon on partnership benefits
Pupils on both sides benefit from the partnership experience – enriching the learning journey and making community connections

For example, our pupils commit their time to leading science and Latin sessions for primary school children and to sharing biscuits and tea with elderly residents during ‘Friendship Hour’. They also help to maintain local parks and churchyards, give GCSE revision classes, run a Blues orchestra and teach children how to swim.

For schools like ours, sharing resources and facilities is both a responsibility and a privilege. I regularly host reflection afternoons at which pupils share their experiences and advice with each other. Recently, I asked what our pupils had learnt from their involvement in partnerships projects and responses included: ‘fostering a sense of unity and empowerment within the community’ and ‘helping young children gain knowledge and confidence’. It’s great to get this type of feedback from the pupils themselves. When pupils participate in community projects, they learn, build relationships and broaden their perspective. For schools that build these kinds of partnership links, genuine and meaningful connections are forged between partner schools. There is a proliferation of ambition and inspiration to build upon and develop new ways to collaborate.

Recently, our relationship with Harris Academy (HAWI) extended to include its new sixth form. Our pupils work together, benefiting from joint academic extension, university preparation and community projects. HAWI sixth formers even join King’s lessons in specialist subjects, enriching their learning journey and our classrooms. Joanne Larizadeh, Head of HAWI, commented: “The project is equipping students with important life skills whilst enabling them to make a valuable contribution to our local community”.

When pupils participate in community projects, they learn, build relationships and broaden their perspective”

Last June we launched a new initiative, King’s Arts, a five-day celebration of culture and the arts. We opened our doors to our local community so we could celebrate the uplifting and transformative power of the arts together. Our partnership schools were at the heart of this celebration, and the concert featuring the choirs of pupils from our partner schools alongside alumni and King’s pupils, was for me and many others the highlight of the week. Learning from this experience, our second King’s Arts event this June will include lots more involvement from our partners – watch this space!

We believe that community engagement – and the experiences it brings – empowers our young people to go out into the world ready to make a purposeful contribution. We look to go beyond academic excellence to offer a true education of ‘Mind, Spirit and Heart’ – one that encourages positive values, humanity and regard for others.

King’s College Wimbledon

Further reading: Worth School on community strength in Sixth Form