6th November 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Independent school partnerships: a winning combination.
Independent schools are regularly working with state schools and they aren’t forming these partnerships because the government tells them to do so, they want to work with their local community.
independent schools across the country are creating genuine relationships, something which Shaun Fenton, chair-elect of HMC, has seen first-hand.
“Independent schools have always been doing this [partnerships] and more, but unfortunately it is the best-kept secret of the sector. It is almost impossible to find an independent school that isn’t working in partnership with sections of its local community. Independent schools have been doing this for generations and they do it because it’s part of the school’s identity.”
So, it seems the government should worry less about stepping up and more about keeping up with independent schools and their progressive partnerships.
Regular and purposeful community engagement is essential for all independent schools. It is no longer enough to open the school grounds for a local church fete once a year or to let the local football team use the sports pitches for events. Today, independent schools have to be a lot more far-reaching and worthwhile with their efforts in the local community.
Independent schools must recognise their charitable status and add real value to their local community. Living in a privileged bubble with no local links is not acceptable. Any good school is a community of pupils, staff and parents where all stakeholders feel valued, safe and part of something bigger with strong links between all elements. This has to extend into the local community for the school to have a purposeful position and to ensure a sense of genuine and real community spirit.
Schools should embody British values, not be forced to teach them
Victoria Bingham headmistress of South Hampstead High School denounces ‘jingoistic’ lessons in British values.
A revamped curriculum that will include “British values” is being developed to prevent children succumbing to extremist ideologies, but has already been accused of “jingoism” by a head teacher.
It is likely to involve history teachers tutoring pupils in key events in the development of British democracy, such as Magna Carta. Religious education teachers could be asked to help pupils understand the current British value of tolerance towards other faiths.
A letter has been sent to head teachers by Sir Theodore Agnew, the new academies minister, asking for views on the changes.
However, in an article published online today, Vicky Bingham, headmistress of the private South Hampstead High School, in north London, says: “The new curriculum sounds . . . ineffective in rooting out radical terrorism. The idea of pupils coming together in mutual understanding because they all know our island story sounds . . . slightly jingoistic.”
Bingham says schools should be allowed to decide how to teach British values, adding that “the idea that Britain has some sort of special claim to democracy smacks of hubris”.
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