Innovative collaboration wins prestigious education award

Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Senior
Tes independent school awards winner

Bedales has won the Independent-State school partnership award in the 2021 Tes Independent School Awards for its  collaboration with The Key pupil referral unit. Prior to lockdown, pupils from The Key have been weekly visitors to the Bedales Outdoor Work department to take part in activities including blacksmithing, animal husbandry, pizza baking, and woodwork, alongside Bedales staff and students.

The Tes Independent School Awards celebrate the teachers and teams from independent schools across the UK that are raising the standards of education and making a positive impact on the personal and academic success of students and the wider community. This year’s awards have highlighted the extraordinary work that schools have done in spite of a most challenging year. 

The Key pupils bee-keeping at Bedales

Prior to working with the Key, Bedales staff had noted the similarities between the school’s approach and the ‘alternative curriculum’ undertaken by young people for whom conventional schooling has not worked. The Key is a pupil referral unit based in Gosport and Havant, catering for students unable to attend school either because they are at-risk, have been permanently excluded, are emotionally vulnerable or absent owing to ill-health. 

Bedales set its students to work alongside pupils at The Key, to help broaden Bedales pupils’ understanding of different social and economic circumstances, while allowing students at The Key to access new opportunities and activities. 

Pupils at The Key have responded in a profoundly positive way. They have said how much they look forward to the visits and the teacher responsible for outreach has noted their growing confidence. Students’ attendance at The Key has improved as a result of their participation and their parents have said how enthusiastic they are in sharing their experiences. Working together, students from both schools have also made and sold pizzas at Bedales, with money raised going to The Key. 

Lead judge Deborah Leek-Bailey said:  

“It is a testament to this initiative that pupils from both Bedales and The Key have been given the opportunity to collaborate on a variety of projects, which have led to increased confidence, greater self-regulation and a broader perspective.” 

Tes Award trophy

Magnus Bashaarat, Head of Bedales, welcomed the award: 

“We have really enjoyed building relationships with colleagues at the Key Pupil Referral Unit and have learnt lots from each other. We are two very different schools but through our partnership we have discovered much in common, principally a desire to provide an individualised and tailored educational experience for young people. In working together in the outdoors, students and teachers from both schools have benefitted from broadening their outlooks, and seeing the world through each other's eyes. I am very grateful to teachers at the Key and Bedales for embracing and developing our partnership so enthusiastically, and delighted that this innovative work has been recognised with the TES Award.” 

Leanne Forde-Nassey, Head teacher of the Key added:

"The staff and students at Bedales have been fantastic with our pupils. We have a really meaningful relationship between our schools that we are so proud to be part of and look forward to developing further."

Jon Severs, Editor of Tes magazine and Chief Judge of the Awards said: 

“The Tes Independent School Awards is a celebration of the fantastic achievements of the independent sector. These winning and shortlisted schools have shown ingenuity, ambition and perseverance during what has been an unbelievably challenging year.” 

There's more information about the partnership between Bedales and The Key on the Schools Together website here

The Tes Independent School Awards were held virtually for the first time on 30 April 2021 to comply with the ongoing COVID restrictions. In previous years the awards ceremony has been held at the Grosvenor Hotel, on London’s Park Lane. 

Full details on all the winners of the Tes Independent School Awards are available here.  For information about all the shortlisted schools and the awards, click here