Sixth form blog: Partnership in progress

Taking the first steps on our partnership journey                 21.2.17

Just before February half term, the senior leadership teams at Woodhouse College and the Archer Academy got together for the first of our joint SLT meetings. The meeting was co-hosted by myself and John Rubinstein, the principal of Woodhouse College, and attended by our assistant headteachers, finance directors and business managers.

The plan is to meet half-termly to turn our plans for a dynamic partnership into a reality, sharing thoughts, aspirations and experiences that will ensure it is a success. And, of course, these regular meetings will give us the chance to get to know each other and have some great conversations about education and why we’re all so passionate about it.

One of the first things we have done is to buddy up the relevant members of staff from each institution, including our middle leaders. So, for example, the heads of each department are now in touch with each other and starting to have some informal discussions about teaching, learning and assessment, and how we can learn from each other.

We’re also collaborating across the board on a range of ways to share best practice and make sure we build on what works well. For example, key members of each staff team will be sharing their approach to academic writing and moderating each other’s students’ work, as well as exploring the way we deliver our ethos and our expectations of behaviour.

That’s just a brief snapshot of our overall approach; I thought you might also be interested to hear a bit more detail about a few of the projects that we’ve put in place, and will be following up at our next joint SLT meeting.

Firstly, we’ve already started bringing our older students together with the Woodhouse Year 12s for a scheme called Model UN, in which students take on the role of national ambassadors or representatives, to debate and seek to solve global issues. A group of our students recently acted as secretariats at the Woodhouse Model UN Conference and are attending a national meeting on Friday 25th February.  Model UN is a highly respected scheme which is offered as an enrichment choice at Woodhouse College; our students will really benefit from getting their feet under the UN table at this early stage.

We’re also introducing a peer mentoring scheme, through which a number of Woodhouse Year 12 students will come and have regular, one-to-one sessions with some of our Year 10s. This kind of peer support has been shown to have a great impact on students who need a bit of help with their study skills, motivation or attitude to learning – or who just need encouraging to raise their game. And for the older students, it’s a great way to develop their leadership skills. I’ll report back next time about how they’re getting on.

And finally, we’ve been planning the first joint meeting of our two school councils, which will take place after Easter. The two student groups are really looking forward to working together and sharing their perspectives on what will make our partnership fly. I’m sure they’ll also be cooking up regular opportunities for both sets of students to come together; I’ll keep you posted about what they decide.

Developing this new partnership is a really exciting process and I wish I could tell you everything we’re doing; but I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights. I’m aiming to bring you more news every couple of months or so, and will let you know via the newsletter when the next update is available.

Lucy Harrison

Headteacher, the Archer Academy