25 March 2021

On Tuesday, Abingdon School in Partnership hosted the spring Schools Together event. Due to current restrictions, the event was held online as a webinar and attended by people from across the country. The joint events committee, of which Rob Southwell-Sander is Chair, decided on a title of ‘Bridging the gap between live and remote partnerships.’ For an event held on the first anniversary of a national lockdown, this seemed entirely relevant and a chance to showcase the resilience, adaptability and flexibility of school partnerships in challenging times.

Nine presentations were selected from those that applied, covering a wide range of topics and projects but all with mutuality, sustainability and impact at their core. After introductions from Sarah Butterworth, Chair of the Schools Together Group and Head Mike Windsor, the webinar began with a presentation from UCS on their STEM link Project. The project provides support for making the jump from GCSE to A- levels for Year 12 pupils within the Sciences and Maths. Kick start Medicine followed, this is a programme looking into providing impactful partnership provision using a model that treats partnership as a form of ‘curriculum design for a multiple school cohort.’ The project aims to promote student development particularly within the area of applying to Medicine. Jeremy Thomas (Abingdon Science Partnership) joined with Awel Evans (John Mason) to present SCAMPA. This clean air monitoring project has engaged 13 local schools in a real world science enquiry project making daily observations and recordings.

An inspiring presentation from Harrow about their Looked after children and young carers project showed the real difference partnership projects can have. At a time of ‘insecurity , instability and interrupted schooling’ the impact on these groups of students can often lead to the ‘poorest educational outcomes and highest rates of fixed term exclusions.’ Harrow have continued their study and enrichment sessions for these groups moving to an online programme of tutorials and activities. The KAN university access programme, similarly, works with some of the most disadvantaged students. It is a comprehensive four year programme including residential events and mentoring. The programme moved entirely online to continue to support their students. Over 94% of the pilot cohorts went into higher education or an apprenticeship after the programme showing real success and impact.

HIGHgateway Maths tutoring works in partnership with Acland Burghley School to provide maths tutoring and training of tutors with flexibility to work online or in person. ‘14/23 students attained a higher grade in their GCSE mock assessments after taking part’. Rich Evans from Larkmead presented the Abingdon Edge Academic Coaching project. Many Abingdon students have been involved with this town wide programme running for the last term. After coaching and leadership training, Y12 students have provided six weekly coaching sessions for Y9 and 10s across the town. This has been done entirely online throughout lockdown and restrictions to provide support and collaboration between 5 local schools. Colet mentoring presented their mentoring app in collaboration with St. Paul’s School and Easy A. It aims to link mentors and mentees from partnership schools to provide peer support in Maths. Abingdon School in Partnership is hoping to pilot this next term. Book clubs in Schools are a charity who aim to provide schools with all they need to run a student led book club. Older students are trained to support younger pupils to provide leadership opportunities as well as improving attitudes to reading.

Question and answer sessions allowed attendees to delve further into questions such as ‘how do you measure impact?’ and ‘how did you facilitate this programme?’ Breakout rooms with the presenters were a great way to end the event and encouraged further discussion, networking and chance for clarification. Overall, the webinar was an inspirational evening with practical ideas, replicable projects and a chance to share experiences from the last year. With thanks to all the presenters who gave up their time and the Schools together Group for all they do to support the continued success of school partnerships.

To view the recording please follow the link here. To access the webinar toolkit please click here.

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