‘Berlin wall’ between state and private schools being breached in London

Sixteen private schools in London and the South East have published details of their work with local state schools, in a bid to encourage other schools to set up partnerships.

The schools have posted case studies of the projects on the London Brokerage website, which aims to become a “go-to resource for schools and colleges wanting to set up partnerships of their own”.

Tony Sewell, a former teacher and founder of Generating Genius, which helps disadvantaged young people to access elite universities, was involved with the project. He said it showed that the “Berlin wall” between the state and private sectors had been “razed to the ground” in the capital.

“For the first time, we can see the extent of the work going on between schools and colleges in the capital,” he added.

He said the site deliberately did not include details of cooperative projects that were “too limited in ambition”, such as schools sharing sports facilities or holding a joint end-of-term play.

“For the schools we have focused on, the relationship permeates every level of school life, for teachers and students,” he said. “It’s amazing to see schools sharing teaching staff, carrying out joint research projects and allocating very considerable resources to maintaining and expanding the partnerships.”

Dr Sewell said that schools should be “singing from the rooftops” about their partnerships with others, adding that the project was helping them to do so.

TES reported in March that independent schools were working on a programme to publish details of their relationships with state schools online, under an initiative designed to dispel preconceptions that they were “bastions of privilege”.

At the time, Hilary French, headteacher of Newcastle High School for Girls, said she hoped that publishing the details online would banish “sweeping, simplistic generalisations” about the independent sector.

“Too many people make too many assumptions,” she said. “They assume we’re for the privileged, that we’re elitist and in our ivory towers. Most independent schools have very ordinary pupils and there are a large number of bursaries. We’re not bastions of privilege.”

Successful partnership, she added, was not about independent schools “bestowing their bounty on the maintained sector” but about schools “genuinely working together”.

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