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Government backing for partnership collaboration

Sibford School will be running joint science workshops with Sibford Gower Endowed Primary School

Sibford School will be running joint science workshops with Sibford Gower Endowed Primary School

Children attending two schools in neighbouring Oxfordshire villages are to benefit from a Government initiative aimed at encouraging partnership projects between independent and state primary schools.

In September 2014 the Department for Education announcement that a new funding package would be available to schools who could demonstrate innovative ideas for working together across the sectors to strengthen the teaching of subjects such as maths, science, IT, design & technology and modern foreign languages.

A total of 39 applications were received for the ‘Independent/State School Partnership (ISSP) Primary Curriculum Project’, of which 18 were successful … including a science partnership between Sibford School, the Quaker independent school in Sibford Ferris, and the Endowed Primary School in neighbouring Sibford Gower.

Next month (March) Year 5 and 6 pupils from both schools will join together for two days of workshop activities … the first a chemistry day, when they will be looking at solutions and mixtures; and the second a physics day focusing on space and forces.

Edward Rossiter, Assistant Head at Sibford School with specific responsibilities for the Junior School said: “The workshops will take place in and around the laboratories of our senior school science department which means the children will be able to draw on resources and equipment not usually accessible to primary school pupils. They will also be led by science specialists … again something that is not normally an option for primary schools.

“This is an exciting project that will benefit pupils in both schools and I am delighted that we were successful in gaining Government funding to help facilitate this.”

Added Sibford head Michael Goodwin: “When Sibford School was established back in 1842 by the Religious Society of Friends, the founding vision was to provide an outstanding education to those who could benefit from it but who might not otherwise have access to it. We know that we are fortunate in many of the facilities we have here at Sibford School and we believe that we should make the best use of them, not just for our own school community but also for the wider community. While this initial partnership is only between two schools, we have longer term plans to broaden the scope of the project and incorporate other local primary schools in the coming years.”

The stated aim of the ISSP Primary Curriculum Project is to

  • raise the standards of teaching and learning; and to
  • have a positive and measurable impact on the education of all the children in their schools.

Schools Minister Lord Nash said: “Collaboration and partnership between schools are a vital part of our plan for education, with schools increasingly working together to raise standards for all. ISSPs have been a hugely successful – and durable – initiative which have had a real impact on the quality of learning in partner schools. We hope that this extra funding creates new networks, which will in turn raise standards in key subject areas.”

Adds Deborah Leek-Bailey OBE, Chair of the ISSP Forum: “As chairman of the ISSP I have been impressed with the innovation and diversity of applications. It is encouraging to see how outward-facing many schools have become and it is my hope that as a direct result of this funding we will impact on social mobility and aspirations for a new group of young people.”

ADDED BONUS: The first science workshop (on 4 March) will get off to a flying start when the participants will be joined by broadcaster and children author’s, Simon Mayo, who will be speaking about his ‘Itch’ series of novels which tell the tale of a 14-year-old boy (Itchingham Lofte), his love of science, especially chemistry, and his mission to collect all the elements in the periodic table.

Edward Rossiter said: “Simon Mayo is the icing on the cake. His talk, which will also be attended by pupils in our senior school together with visitors from other local primary schools, was already in the diary when we started planning the ISSP Primary Curriculum Project. Given the subject matter, is made perfect sense to use this as an exciting way to launch the project.”

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