further & higher education
primary & secondary education

Raising Standards Through Establishing and Maintaining School Partnerships

further & higher education

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 16:40

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Central London

This Forum provides an opportunity to discuss methods for effectively establishing, formalising and maintaining school-led partnerships. Policymakers and sector leaders will provide updates and future thinking around guidance documents, including on how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of these partnerships. In addition, participants will explore best practice strategies with case studies focusing on partnerships between state schools and higher education institutions (HEIs), independent schools, international schools, and across multi-academy trusts (MATs).


This Forum is specifically designed for Schools and the Higher Education Sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Headteachers
  • Heads of Sixth Form
  • Careers Advisors
  • Deputy and Assistant Headteachers
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Directors of Education
  • Heads of School Improvement
  • School Improvement Managers
  • Partnership managers
  • Education Improvement Advisors
  • Outreach Managers
  • School Liaison Officers
  • Chief Executives
  • Assistant Headteachers
  • Heads of Department
  • Heads of Languages
  • Languages Teachers
  • Directors of Studies
  • Directors of Education
  • Compliance Officers
  • Heads of Teaching and Learning
  • School Governors
  • Trustees

This Forum is also open to the wider Education Sector, and Voluntary and Private Sectors to encourage discussion and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Angelo Sommariva, Head of System Partnerships, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (DfE)
  • Vicky Gough, Adviser, Schools – Education and Society, British Council
  • Gina Cicerone, Head of School Partnerships and Innovation, Teach First
  • Jon Andrews, Director for School System and Performance, Deputy Head of Research, EPI
  • Dr Paul Armstrong, Lecturer in Education, The University of Manchester and Author, Effective School Partnerships and Collaboration for School Improvement: A Review of the Evidence, Department for Education
  • Christina Astin, Head of Partnerships, The King’s School Canterbury
  • Philip Robertson, International Development Lead, St John’s Secondary School and Sixth Form College
  • Andrew Ettinger, Head of Collaborative School Improvement, Education Development Trust (EDT)
  • Carole Portman-Smith, Urban Scholars Programme Director, Brunel University London
  • Dr Chris Wilson, CEO, The Brilliant Club


Confirmed Media Partner

Media Partners
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Dr Paul Armstrong, Lecturer in Education, The University of Manchester and Author, Effective School Partnerships and Collaboration for School Improvement: A Review of the Evidence, Department for Education (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Session: Setting the Scene and Informing Conversation

The day will begin with a 10 minute interactive session, led by the Chair, in which delegates will be able to submit questions via the Slido app, raise their key concerns and inform the Chair of what they would like to discuss during the course of the day.

This will inform debate and direct the conversation throughout the day, helping participants understand the range and objectives of stakeholders in the room, so that attendees are confident that their desired learning objectives will be addressed.


Morning Keynote: The Government’s Vision for Improving Education Standards through Partnerships and Collaboration

  • Discussing the knowledge and experience that can be gained for pupils, students and staff through increased partnership working between schools and centers of further and higher education
  • Facilitating the establishment for formalised partnership agreements with the November 2018 Guide to Setting Up Partnerships, in order to ensure more benefit for all involved, including regular resource sharing and sustainable activities
  • Highlighting the core areas around which the DfE are encouraging schools to partner with other education providers in order to improve inputs and outcomes, such as teaching, curriculum, leadership and providing targeted activities
  • Providing an overview of partnership evaluations thus far, between the independent and state sector, between schools and HEIs, and between national and international schools
  • Outlining future plans for school partnerships including new funding that partnerships will be able to bid for from Autumn 2019, up to £20,000, and ensuring the sustainability of initiatives by requiring matched funding for bids over £5,000

Angelo Sommariva, Head of System Partnerships, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: The Role of HEI-School Partnerships in Raising Pupil Attainment

  • Outlining the key findings from the July 2019 Barriers to Access report
  • Disseminating the current evidence on how HEI-school partnerships can successfully raise aspirations, increase teacher ability and improve overall school success through establishing flexible arrangements based on key themes including curriculum development and social mobility

  • Exploring how models of engagement can be created and adapted to match the expertise, resources and mission of a HEI with the needs of the local context and individual schools

  • Discussing which activities that can be offered through these partnerships have the greatest impact on supporting staff and pupils to achieve higher rates and attainment, and support overall social mobility, including summer schools and teacher CPD opportunities

  • Considering how to successfully monitor and measure efforts made by a HEI in supporting a school, to understand the impact of the partnership on outcomes, and provide wider lessons for the HEI

Dr Chris Wilson, CEO, The Brilliant Club (CONFIRMED)


Key Supporter Session


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Special Keynote: Promoting the Effectiveness of Global Partnerships in Raising Educational Attainment

  • Outlining the range of programmes through which to find an international school partner: Connecting Classrooms, eTwinning and Erasmus+
  • Discussing the benefits of establishing a partnership with a foreign school, including allowing teachers to share experiences and learn new practices, as well as enhance pupil engagement through joint activities focused on global themes
  • Identifying key themes on which to base a partnership for more fruitful collaboration, such as STEM education, teacher CPD, school leadership, or enhancing numeracy and literacy
  • Sharing lessons from the 80,000 eTwinning projects that have taken place since 2005, including 11,000 based in the UK, and how pupils from nursery to sixth form have benefitted from the projects

Vicky Gough, Adviser, Schools – Education and Society, British Council (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Closing the Attainment Gap Through International Partnerships

  • Partnering with a Spanish School through the Erasmus+ Key Action programme to learn best practice in closing the attainment gap between higher and lower attainers, through enhancing aspirations among disadvantaged students and re-focusing staff priorities
  • Outlining areas addressed through the partnership including assessment for learning, homework, gender-based differentiation, pedagogy and independent learning
  • Discussing the process of staff selection to visit the Spanish school, and activities undertaken while shadowing staff there including developing project management and language skills, and planning future cross-curricular projects
  • Sharing the success of the partnership, evident in improved staff teaching skills, more awareness of one’s own knowledge, in line with the whole school Learning Improvement Plan, and selected groups showing levels of progress of up to 22% in certain subject areas

Philip Robertson, International Development Lead, St John’s Secondary School and Sixth Form College (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Making a Difference through Independent-State School Partnerships

This session will draw on the four strands stipulated in the DfE’s latest funding for ISSPs, illustrating each from Christina’s work at The King’s School, Canterbury, and the Schools Together Group, including some practical tips.

  • Mutuality: Two-way benefit in partnership working is crucial, but how can we achieve it?
  • Sustainability: How can we develop successful longer-term relationships with partner schools?
  • Impact: How do we know if our partnership is effective and making a difference?
  • Tackling Disadvantage: Closing social and educational gaps is a key motivator for collaboration; what are the successful models?

Christina Astin, Director of Partnerships, The King’s School Canterbury and Founder-Chair, Schools Together Group (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Interactive Session: Reviewing Progress and Informing Further Debate

Following the learning that will take place through the morning, a second interactive polling session will assess progress made thus far through the day, helping inform conversations through the latter half of the day.


Afternoon Keynote: How Partnerships and Collective Action Help Improve Outcomes for Pupils from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Gina Cicerone, Head of School Partnerships and Innovation, Teach First (CONFIRMED)


Panel Session: Ensuring Partnerships Deliver Improved Outcomes for Pupils

  • What are the core components of a successful partnership?
  • How can the success of partnerships be effectively measured by all stakeholders?
  • How can partnerships be formed to address local need, such as better supporting pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds, broadening curriculum options, or improving teacher subject-specific knowledge?
  • How can non-school partners best support schools in improving outcomes?
  • What should be the future priorities for school partnerships?

Andrew Ettinger, Head of Collaborative School Improvement, Education Development Trust (EDT) (CONFIRMED)

Jon Andrews, Director for School System and Performance, Deputy Head of Research, EPI (CONFIRMED)

Gina Cicerone, Head of School Partnerships and Innovation, Teach First (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Supporting Disadvantaged Pupils and Classroom Resourcing Through School-Charity Partnerships

  • Exploring the outreach activities conducted by School Angel to connect with local schools, and how the charity determines what support to provide to which schools
  • Outlining the two overarching methods of support available: Using technology to help schools raise funds for new provisions through a dedicated online platform, and funding activities, such as school trips, for disadvantaged pupils
  • Collaborating with schools through regular site visits to allow individual teachers to determine what support or funding is needed for a particular class or pupil, and offering best practice in how staff have successfully pitched school needs to the charity
  • Sharing a sample contract agreed upon between the charity and a school, and discussing how this can be adapted for other partnerships

Chris Cottam, Chair of Trustees & Founder, School Angel (invited)


Case Study: Supporting Pupils Through a Targeted University-School Partnership Scheme

  • Outlining the design of the Urban Scholars Programme evidence-based collaborative intervention, including the theory of change
  • Sharing best practice impact measurement methods for different stakeholders, sponsors, schools and the Office of Students
  • Discussing challenges of working across 31 schools, and the changes made to the programme as it grew from a project of enthusiasm into a major research impact case study for Brunel University

Carole Portman-Smith, Urban Scholars Programme Director, Brunel University London (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Interactive Review Session

To conclude the day, an interactive polling session will identify key takeaways and determine future priorities.


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

While figures from the Department of Education (DfE), published in December 2018, show the disadvantage gap index has shrunk by 13% since 2011 and 86% of schools are now rated good or outstanding, only 64% of pupils met the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths in 2018. As such, there is still a significant need for standards to be raised across the education sector.

Partnerships offer a wide range of opportunities for the sharing of knowledge, experience and resources, to support enhancement of teaching, learning and overall outcomes, particularly in times of budgetary constraints. Acknowledging this, in November 2018 the DfE published a Guide to Setting Up Partnerships. Providing advice, guidance and practical information for schools, colleges or universities, the move to formalise existing arrangements seeks to better clarify the activities and benefits for all stakeholders. Key areas for collaboration include teaching, curriculum, leadership and targeted activities for school’s specific needs.

Following the release of this guidance, in June 2019 a fund of over £200,000 was announced for state schools, independent schools and universities to bid into, from the autumn term, to support partnership building. Grants of over £5,000 will require the partnership to match the funding, while larger bids will be capped at £20,000. The Brilliant Club’s Barrier to Access report, published in July 2019, urged higher education providers to put more effort into reaching schools being underserved, and also engage with primary school pupils.

The onus is therefore on all schools and their current and potential partners to strengthen collaboration efforts as well as pursue new opportunities. If resources and expertise are going to be best utilised for the benefit of all pupils, as well as teaching and leadership staff, tangible outcomes must be established to ensure improvement efforts are effective.


Christina Astin, Director of Partnerships, The King’s School Canterbury and Founder-Chair, Schools Together Group

Having taught physics for over 20 years, Christina now divides her time between education consultancy and heading up the partnerships programme at The King’s School, Canterbury, and she co-chairs East Kent Schools Together partnership (www.ekst.org).  Her work portfolio covers teacher CPD and middle leadership training, school improvement in science and partnerships, and she founded Young Scientists Journal. She was Founder-Chair of the Schools Together Group established in 2016 for school partnership professionals and serves on its steering committee. @ChristinaAstin.

You May Also Like

  • Improving Standards of Teaching Through Continuing Professional Development

    03 October 201908:45 - 16:40

    Central London