Talking heads: how is your school involved in community partnerships?

Five independent school heads explain how community partnerships with schools and more have benefited all involved

community partnerships

The success of community partnerships relies on them being meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. We take seriously our responsibility as a member of the local Dorset community. That means having effective links with other educational establishments and organisations that support young people, so we are proud to be part of the Blandford Schools’ Network of state schools. With 620 staff, however, we are keenly aware that we are not only a large employer, but also a community with the spending power to make a real difference to local shops. Our new loyalty card scheme is a good example of an effective way of benefiting pupils, staff and parents, while supporting local independent shops and businesses.” 

Mark Mortimer, headmaster, Bryanston School

community partnerships

“We have specific in-depth partnerships with two maintained sector schools, many overseas groups and charities, and we are a founder member of the Cheltenham Education Partnership made up of 10 local schools. Activities are an eclectic mix and range from our pupils sharing lessons and coming together for our unique MBA programme, to rowing together on the River Severn and dissecting owl pellets, amongst other scientific things! Staff meet regularly too, sharing best practice. As a group, we have become good friends. Tens of thousands of hours have been given by us all to various projects. Every minute has been worthwhile as everyone has grown or benefited in some way.”   

Nicola Huggett, head, Cheltenham College

community partnerships

“During 2019, boys at Bedford School clocked up a staggering 1,600 hours working in partnership with our local community. It’s hugely important to us that our boys engage fully with the world around them, and especially with our local town. We work in partnership with many different groups across the community. Our boys volunteer in local primary schools (helping with extra reading, leading football clubs and teaching mandarin, for example), in old people’s homes and riding with the disabled, and in doing so they learn to take responsibility for themselves and others, learn the joy of helping those who need it and enhance their skills of empathy; they also grow as people.”   

James Hodgson, headmaster, Bedford School

community partnerships

The school is a member of a consortium of 21 local primary schools (Warwick Prep is the only independent school in the group). The focus is to work collaboratively for the benefit of all pupils and staff within the schools. The heads meet every half-term; recent priorities have included professional development at all levels of school leadership and developing wellbeing policies for staff and pupils. The latter has seen inspirational speakers address staff and the provision of Mental Health First Aid training across all the schools. Warwick Prep hosts a number of the meetings and provides curriculum experiences for the pupils, most recently in science and music.” 

Hellen Dodsworth, headmistress, Warwick Preparatory School

community partnerships

Last year, Canford pupils and staff devoted almost 10,000 hours in support of local schools and community projects in the local area and beyond. Canford’s mission is to build a community of open-minded people who are committed to making a difference to their own lives and to the lives of others.  It is very important to me that Canfordians leave with a sense of social responsibility, empathy towards others and an ingrained desire to make that difference. Through our sponsorship of The Bourne Academy, our links with over 30 other local schools and a range of community partnerships, fulfilment of that mission lies at the heart of all we do.” 

Ben Vessey, headmaster, Canford School

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