School partnerships bring rewards on all sides, with activities ranging from volunteering to student-led teaching of younger pupils. Absolutely Education speaks to four schools to find out more

School partnerships – adding value on all sides
Tonbridge School activities include a partnership with a local primary and a Tonbridge Mentors programme

Tonbridge School

Tonbridge School runs a Learning Mentor Programme, working in partnership with nearby Royal Rise Primary School. This sees 60 primary-age children and 60 Tonbridge Mentors meeting each Monday lunchtime in the school’s Smythe Library for one-to-one tutoring sessions in maths, literacy and co-curricular studies. Tonbridge School’s annual Giving Day sees performance poetry workshops for visiting primary schools, driven and delivered by the Learning Strategies teaching team, with the support of the Learning Mentors. Local schoolchildren also join in with an inspiring calendar of activities in the science and sports centres, galleries and chapel.

Tonbridge Head of Learning Strategies Hayley McLintock believes this is a win-win situation. Primary school children benefit from the peer-to-peer learning and personal support. Meanwhile Tonbridge’s Mentors build a range of skills, including social interaction, awareness of neurodiversity and emotional intelligence. What’s more, the planning and organisation involved in teaching others improves their own learning skills and their sense of responsibility. There’s a ‘tiered’ approach to prepare boys for taking on these roles, beginning in their First and Second Years as they learn to offer guidance and support to visiting children. As they move up the school, boys become internal Learning Mentors, offering guidance to Lower School boys. By the time they reach Sixth Form they can become subject specialists, passing on their knowledge to younger pupils with the same interest.

“This is an opportunity for children in multiple settings to forge networks, share experiences and resources and celebrate each other’s successes”

This is a volunteer scheme (running for more than a decade now), and each year around 80 boys give up their time – this includes training as Learning Mentors in lunchbreaks. As they train, they also build their own numeracy, literacy and communication abilities. Hayley McLintock says the boys see it as a mutually beneficial arrangement where, as well as helping others, they build metacognitive skills. Equally important, the Programme widens understanding of other people’s situations and settings. “This is an opportunity for staff, boys and children in multiple settings to forge networks, share experiences and resources and celebrate each other’s successes as and when they come along,” she adds.

Tonbridge School

More House
More House School has partnerships with two local primary schools – they collaborate on everything from charity work to choirs

More House School

Knightsbridge school More House has formed partnerships with two local Catholic state schools, Oratory Primary School and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. With Oratory Primary, the partnership was launched with a collaborative Winter Collection of warm items in support of three charities that work with the homeless and refugee communities. More House’s Careers Coordinator also visits Oratory Primary to speak to pupils and give advice on potential future pathways.

Music has been another enriching partnership, with the Music Departments of More House and Cardinal Vaughan bringing school choirs together for inspiring Easter Choral Concerts, which take place each March. Similarly, the two Modern Foreign Languages departments have liaised to offer reciprocal GCSE and Level lesson observation and moderation support. More House has recently installed a new Creative Suite – and there are already exciting plans to open it up to Oratory Primary by facilitating a special Lego building competition.

More House Head Faith Hagerty says the school culture is outward facing, adding that pupils get excited by the idea of reaching out beyond the confines of their own school and seeing the value in working with people from other walks of life. “They find the experience incredibly enriching.”

Faith Hagerty brought other talents into play last year when the school led on an initiative called Strictly Heads. This was cross sector, bringing 16 schools together in a Strictly-style dance competition between headteachers to raise funds for icandance, a charity delivering dance and movement to young people with disabilities. This school-wide affair included pupil committees launching their own dance-related fundraising initiatives. There was also an Online Youth Seminar with children from each school and young people from the charity.

The Strictly Heads dance event was a huge success, raising well over £12,000. This year sees a similar cross sector initiative – Strictly Headers, with another 16 school leaders competing in a football match in May. This time, schools are working with the charity Play it Forward, which uses football as a vehicle to engage young people in southern Zambia in educational projects.

More House School

School partnerships – adding value on all sides
Emanuel’s activities include its Primary Ambitions programme, delivering enrichment activities to children from 16 partner schools

Emmanuel School

Primary Ambitions is Emanuel School’s Friday flagship enrichment programme and sees Year 5 and 6 children from 16 partner schools visiting the Battersea school for educational enrichment activities. Led by the Lower Sixth at Emanuel, this Friday-afternoon activity offers 285 pupils a fabulous array of student-led options – from filmmaking and DJing and science and robotics to art and drama.

In fact, Emanuel partners with 32 state primary and secondary schools locally and Lisa Irwin, Head of Community Partnerships & Outreach, says the activities and enrichment are multi-faceted. Ascent a programme offering academic support for Year 5 children and GCSE boosters. There are fruitful collaborations between Year 6 pupils at Emanuel and partner schools. The school also acts as host for sports tournaments, literary quizzes, performances, cultural opportunities, careers’ fairs and collaborative debating and French clubs.

“We are constantly on the look out for opportunities to share resources and opportunities with our partners,” says Lisa Irwin. All Emanuel pupils benefit from these interactions and for the Lower Sixth pupils who lead Primary Ambitions, the experience is formative – they become role models and teachers. “They develop their leadership, facilitation and teamworking skills. It is wonderful to see them embrace the challenge and grow in confidence through the 20 weeks of the programme.”

Lisa Irwin says that the benefits to pupils include looking outwards, showing empathy and helping others, and they are actively encouraged to make connections through community service, volunteering, entrepreneurship and fundraising. “Effective partnerships are mutually beneficial. Our goal is to inspire, share and learn with our partners for the collective good.”

“Effective school partnerships are mutually beneficial. Our goal is to inspire, share and learn with our partners for the collective good”

Emanuel School is active in borough-wide initiatives. It supported an art project, ‘Place to Call Home’ that included 13 independent and over 50 state schools across the borough. Emanuel is also working with Putney High School in support of its annual cross-borough sports extravaganza involving partner primary and secondary schools.

There are other strong links across the wider community. For instance, the school’s mini Astro is shared with Fulham Football Club Foundation and Wayfarers’ Flyerz to coach disability football and hockey. The school provides free weekly swimming lessons for partner schools and meeting facilities for community organisations such as ACEN (African Caribbean Education Network).

“We are very proud of our partnerships programme,” says Stuart Turner, Deputy Head: Co-Curricular, Partnerships and Admissions. “We are ambitious for our pupils in all ways, but we want them to recognise their place within the community and realise the positive impressions they can make on others.

He adds: “Whilst we certainly want our pupils to be making a positive impact now, we also want them to take that spirit of enthusiasm for community work beyond their time at Emanuel”.

Emanuel School

School partnerships – adding value on all sides
Channing School school partnerships include its Science Club to inspire future boffins and it also works with the local community

Channing School

Channing School enjoys enriching partnerships with Highgate Newtown Community Partners (HNCP) and Brookfield Primary School, working together to deliver a whole range of activities. This includes chatting with older guests at monthly community teas, problem-solving sessions organised and taught by Year 12 students for Year 5 and 6 pupils at Brookfield and a Science Club to inspire future boffins. During lockdown, Channing girls also made videos to support Under 5s.

As part of the Highgate school’s Education Plus partnership, there’s an annual summer camp where both fun and education are in the mix. Free places are available for pupils from a number of local primary schools, with a specific focus on those who would not normally have the opportunity to participate in such activities.

The partnership with HNCP has led Channing to reach out to other schools in order to build mutually beneficial and collaborative projects that deliver both academic enrichment and cultural capital. One such exciting development has been through extra-curricular clubs. The Latin Club at the Junior School has been opened up to Brookfield Primary and Yerbury Primary students – leading to fascinating discussions. Debating Club has also had a valuable collaboration with these schools.

Channing Year 10 and 12 students help with reading for the very youngest St. Joseph’s and Brookfield primary pupils at its breakfast club. Other club collaborations with these schools have included German, iBrick, sports and maths problem solving. Staff at Channing find their pupils really value and benefit from these tutoring and problem-solving partnerships, with students citing development of leadership and communication skills – and their own interest in the subjects they are helping younger pupils with. Pupils have also enjoyed the pleasure of engaging with younger children, getting to know them and seeing them progress in their learning.

Channing also collaborates with other local schools to enhance the spirit of community and deliver learning. For instance, St. Aloysius College pupils join Channing girls for HE events and clubs, including Medical Discussion, Debating, Robotics, and Latin Channing pupils also benefit from the use of St. Aloysius’ specialist facilities for weekly DT and Cookery club sessions. In the same spirit, Channing opens its facilities to other schools and organisations, free of charge, for around 330 hours a year – all adding to the sense of community spirit and educational openness that can bring people together and improve outcomes in this area of north London.  

Channing School

Further reading: Reed’s and Tim Henman – Foundations of strength