Professional Learning Blog from IRIS Connect

Your quick guide to Independent / State School Partnerships

Posted by Celia McCarthy on 13 September, 2017

As an independent school, there are probably a number of questions that spring to mind when you think of Independent / State School Partnerships (or ISSPs). What are they they? What are the benefits? Is it right for your school?

We know school partnerships produce valuable results. However, we generally think of these partnerships as existing between state schools: think Academy Trusts and Teaching School Alliances. But let’s consider the benefits  of state schools and independent schools collaborating, each of them providing a different curriculum and a wealth of knowledge.


ISSPs: the facts

  • Partnerships between independent schools and state schools are at their highest ever level, with over 10,000 different partnerships in the UK. That's 7% higher than in 2016.
  • Figures reveal that 175,000 state pupils are currently benefiting from initiatives between schools.
  • Schools themselves fund the partnership, meaning any school can join one. Types of ISSPs vary: from independent school governors serving as governors at state schools, academy sponsorship, seconding teaching staff and sharing facilities, to partnering for activities and projects.
  • ISSPs aim to build relationships between schools so they can share valuable resources and knowledge. They bridge the gap between schools in the community, that may have otherwise remained separate, and inspire mutual respect across sectors.
  • ISSPs include all students - regardless of their socio-economic background - providing extraordinary educational opportunities.


A partnership will...

Improve your staff’s professional practice:

Like any school partnership, ISSPs are all about embracing the new and the different. Enabling staff from different organisations to collaborate encourages new discussion and the sharing of expertise. This can improve your staff's professional practice by familiarising them with new teaching techniques.

"ISSPs have been a hugely successful - and durable - initiative which has had a real impact on the quality of learning in partner schools."

- Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools

Widen your educational horizons:

Community involvement is key to an ISSP, as they successfully build bridges between the two education sectors, break down barriers and eliminate negative preconceptions. ISSPs dispel the idea that one sector is uniformly better resourced than the other and encourages schools to develop their strengths, in turn realising the potential of both staff and pupils.

It is beneficial to open yourself up to new experiences, and as an independent school, you don’t want to operate alone. You need to be part of the wider educational community in order to gain new perspectives which will help to keep your school moving forward. Partnerships across schools encourage leaders to share resources, innovations and examples of effective practice.

“Expertise, curriculum, teaching approaches, facilities and extracurricular opportunities can be shared. Evaluations have shown that, in inspiring a high degree of cooperation across sectors, the partnership made a big difference to the skills and confidence of teachers who participated.”
- Nick Gibb, Minister for State Schools


Decide if an ISSP is right for you

Would you like to...

  • Develop collaborative activities to improve your curriculum and teaching?
  • Expand your network of educational experts?
  • Increase the impact of teaching practice on pupil outcomes with new ideas for CPD?
  • Create new, meaningful colleague relationships?
  • Increase staff and pupil engagement with creative teaching methods?

If you would like to do one or more, an Independent / State School Partnership could be for you.


What could an Independent / State School Partnership do for your school? Let us know your thoughts below, or tweet us at @IRIS_Connect.

Topics: Blog, Community, professional development, School-to-school collaboration, educational change

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