Building Partnerships at Berkhamsted
As part of the Independent Schools Council’s “Partnerships Week” – which is an opportunity for the independent school sector to focus on the meaningful partnerships between independent and state sectors – we take a look at the partnerships with local state schools that Berkhamsted has developed over the past few years.
Berkhamsted has partnerships with a number of local primary schools which has resulted in a variety of events and support. These range from assistance with renovation of a Learning Support room at Hawridge and Cholesbury School to hosting Year 6 pupils from the same school for a visit to our High Ropes facility.
Year 1 pupils from One Degree Academy were also able to make use of our Outdoor Education facilities for an outdoor learning experience in July of this year, with Berkhamsted providing transport to and from Enfield for the children and staff. Opportunities such as this allow pupils from outside the Berkhamsted Schools Group to experience the benefits of Outdoor Education facilities and the challenges and character-building experiences that these offer.
Meanwhile, Berkhamsted students in Year 12 and 13 having been volunteering for an hour a a week at Greenway School, Bridgewater School, Swing Gate School and the Collett School. This support helps to free up teacher and teaching assistant at these schools, and students help with art, science and PE activities as well as assisting younger students with their reading.
As well as links with primary schools, Berkhamsted also has a strong link with Denbigh High School in Luton, with the partnership now into its fifth year. The main element of the partnership is the bursary programme – part of Berkhamsted’s wider Anniversary Fund – which offers pupils from Denbigh the opportunity to put themselves forward for bursary places in the Sixth Form.
Over forty students have benefited from the Anniversary Fund scheme, which has now extended beyond Denbigh High School to include schools (Challney Boys, Challney Girls, Putteridge High) across the Chiltern Learning Trust. Berkhamsted plans to increase the number of bursary places available, as well as continuing to work with partner schools to help raise the aspirations of their students.
Recently the partnership has also expanded to include knowledge sharing between the two schools; a number of Berkhamsted staff went to Denbigh to have learning conversations with their Denbigh counterparts. In January, successful bursary applicants met with current Berkhamsted students to discuss the opportunities available at Berkhamsted as well as get a feel for what studying A-Levels at Berkhamsted will be like. We hope this partnership can develop in the coming years so that pupils and staff from the schools involved can learn more from one another.
Berkhamsted also has strong partnerships with several state schools who we work with on teacher training, sharing ideas about teaching and learning, the curriculum and academic leadership. Our trainee teachers have in recent years gone on placement to Ashlyns, Little Heath School, Wren Academy and Marlborough Academy. Meanwhile, our Home and Away days are a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) option for members of staff, which encourage our colleagues to learn from other schools and relationships with them.
Whether it is through offering support and assistance, sharing facilities, raising aspirations or sharing best practice in teaching and Digital Learning, Berkhamsted’s partnerships with nearby state schools show the positive effects that established and meaningful links between the independent and state sector can bring.