Lessons in school partnership

Posted on 12th July 2016

In June 2015, at the suggestion of the education publisher TES, Bedales headmaster Keith Budge and King Edward VI school headteacher Geoff Barton agreed to swap roles for a day, and report back on their experiences from the other side of the education sector fence. The initial result was a TES feature (‘Two leaders. Two sectors. One Vision’), and the exchange subsequently led to a jointly-run conference on school leadership (Liberating Leaders), held in May 2016. Now, a little more than a year after their being introduced, Keith and Geoff have recorded in a new TES article their thoughts on school partnership in the light of their work together.

Jointly written, the article documents five lessons in school partnership including the following observations:

  • It is always interesting to visit another school – not least to see how a counterpart interacts with staff and students, and how the school is organised. However, it is easy to overlook the importance of ethos and values – Keith and Geoff were both surprised at the similarities between their two schools in this respect.
  • Preconceptions have no place in any partnership, and one must go to any prospective partner school ready to look and learn. For Geoff and Keith, partnership has reinforced an understanding that schools, teachers and students in different sectors have far more in common than is sometimes assumed, and that their shared mission is to help those young people make the most of the opportunities available to them.
  • Finally, partnership can facilitate the bringing of fresh eyes to a school – all the better to appreciate its distinctiveness, which is to be relished in a political and cultural system that often pushes us towards bland conformism. Working together has helped Keith and Geoff to understand that what they most like about their schools is what makes them stand out, and gifted them an enhanced sense of feisty independence and maverick spirit.

Click here for the full article.

Keith Budge blogs weekly during term-time. Geoff Barton tweets regularly on Twitter.