National award for partnership work
Bedales has won a national award for its partnership work with the Key Education Centre, a pupil referral unit in Gosport.
The Independent Schools’ Admissions, Marketing and Communications AMCIS Awards recognise and celebrate campaigns which have made a significant impact on schools and their communities.
The aim of the collaboration with the Key has been to develop a mutually beneficial relationship, with students from each institution learning about their counterparts’ differing contexts and perspectives. For Bedales students, the aim has been to broaden their understanding of different social and economic circumstances from their own, and associated educational challenges. For students at The Key, the aim has been to give them experiences to which they would not ordinarily have access, developing their vocational skills and extending the range of future opportunities. In addition, Bedales staff would have access to the unique experiences and skills of staff at the Key.
Staff at The Key identified a group of young people to work with Bedales and develop vocational skills. Since late 2018 the Bedales Outdoor Work department has been the site of weekly visits, with students from The Key taking part in activities including blacksmithing, animal husbandry, pizza baking, and woodwork – supervised by Bedales staff, and often alongside Bedales students.
Working together, students from both schools have made and sold pizzas at Bedales, with money raised going towards a pizza oven for The Key, the building of which we hope will form a future collaborative project.
Bedales staff had previously noted similarities between the school’s approach and what is known as the ‘alternative curriculum’ – typically, that pursued by young people for whom conventional education has not worked. A report from the National Teacher Research Panel found that alternative programmes can reengage disaffected young people through the creation of a supportive school context, with getting to know and listening to students essential.
Having been shortlisted with five other schools, the winner was announced on social media. Judges commented:
“Original, well executed, inspiring and attracted attention nationally which should help more schools to follow suit. I liked the clear evidence of impact (pupils’ attendance rose) and the fact that it impacted the independent school pupils as well as the PRU pupils’ world views.”
Director of External Relations, Rob Reynolds commented: “We are delighted to receive this award for partnership and outreach which we dedicate to our partners at The Key from whom we gain such inspiration. We have really enjoyed getting to know each other, finding common ground and working together for the benefit of young people. Although currently a significant challenge given the restrictions on movement between schools, we are very much looking forward to continuing our innovative work together.”