Celebrating the impact of independent and state school partnerships

Celebrating the impact of independent and state school partnerships
KEHS Principal, Kirsty von Malaisé, writes about the value of impactful partnerships between independent and state schools.

On Monday 14th November, KEHS Principal, Kirsty von Malaisé, attended the parliamentary launch of a publication celebrating impactful partnerships between independent and state schools, in which the TuneUp Arts programme is highlighted as an example of good practice. Here, she writes about the event and what partnerships mean to KEHS.

It was an honour to be invited this week to mark the publication of the Independent Schools Council Celebrating Partnerships 2022 booklet at the House of Commons, with Heads from both the state and independent sectors, and with MPs. The celebration was of the impact of partnership work between the two sectors. Genuine impact, not, as Liberal Democrat Munira Wilson MP assured in her address at the event, crumbs from the table.

So many independent schools see their “Partnership and Participation” work, as we have renamed our activity in this area, as essential to the aims of their school. It is indeed one of our own school aims at KEHS: “To inspire the confidence and purpose to make a difference to our local community and beyond”. We have partnered with local primary schools for many years, supporting primary teachers in raising aspirations among their pupils by offering free activities and access to our facilities to complement and extend what children are doing in school. A number of our teachers have special provision within their timetables to support these activities. Our students also support this work. In short, partnerships are an important part of the outwards-focused life of our school.

I had been invited, along with inspiring Head Pritpal Hyare, Head of Bordesley Green Girls’ School, to mark the impact of our highly successful TuneUp programme, created at the height of the pandemic to bring the Arts into as many schools as possible. We currently have over 600 schools signed up to access our online content, and last summer were awarded funding for our “Culture in Common” project as part of the Commonwealth Games, to engage artists to deliver projects with six schools in Birmingham. If you want to hear about the impact of these projects for yourself, talk to Pritpal: we were so moved by her school’s feedback. Students who have never seen art, never set foot in a gallery, were inspired through their photography workshops to curate their space differently, and to continue to see the world through a different lens.

TuneUp is one part of a rich partnerships programme at KEHS, which runs in conjunction with KES. Other examples include a summer school, where 100 children selected by their primary school teachers as high-achieving, with the attendance of Pupil Premium pupils particularly encouraged, enjoy three days of enrichment and curriculum extension activities. Our swimming pools have been fully booked for primary swimming lessons, with facilities, instruction and lifeguarding all provided free of charge throughout the year. Our students gain as much from this activity as our partnership schools do. As part of the TuneUp programme, 20 student Arts Ambassadors from across the King Edward VI Foundation gained accreditation from a unique partnership with Birmingham City University, in training to deliver these workshops, so that the inspiration from the artists could be sustained.

This really is a virtuous circle, and one which we are looking to develop even further, to fulfil both our own school aims, and also the mission of the King Edward VI Foundation of which we are a part, to make Birmingham the best place to be educated in the UK, children sitting not under the table, but at it, in dialogue and exchange with one another.

  • This week is the ISC’s Schools Partnerships Week.

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