About Us

The Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership (SSLP) brings together Partner schools (from Southwark) and Associate schools (from neighbouring boroughs). Our partnership comprises both independent and maintained schools. What the schools have in common is a desire to  provide academic and vocational opportunities both for students and for teachers, where each can learn with and from their peers.


The SSLP was established as a DFES London Challenge project in 2003.

It followed an initiative by Professor Tim Brighouse, the Education Commissioner for London, to promote the participation of independent as well as maintained schools in the challenge of raising the standards of all pupils across the capital to meet the ‘London Challenge’ – breaking the correlation between economic disadvantage and achievement.

In the early days of his appointment Tim Brighouse, the Commissioner, organised a series of ‘suppers’ where he assembled diverse groups to seek their views on this new education initiative for London.

Two of the headteachers, Marion Gibbs of James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) and Dr Irene Bishop of St Saviour’s & St Olave’s CE School (SSSO) participated in one of those sessions. The London Challenge Unit of the DfES agreed to fund four cross-sector ‘learning communities’ in South London, South West London, East London and North London. SSLP was founded as the South London response.

During the same period, the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) had launched its Networked Learning Communities (NLC) programme which invited schools to take part in an initiative to develop networks and research the impact of schools working in collaboration for the benefit of all the pupils they served. Each network was organised around a key pupil and adult learning focus, and led by two co-leaders. Each network was then allocated a facilitator as part of the programme. Although the SSLP was formed after the NLC funding had been allocated, the College invited the SSLP to participate as informal associate members and Dr Jan McKenley was allocated to act as a critical friend.

In the 2012 Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours Marion Gibbs and Dr Irene Bishop both received CBEs in recognition of their services to education in Southwark and to the cause of independent-state school partnership. The co-directorship of the SSLP was taken up by Dr Joseph Spence of Dulwich College and Grainne Grabowski of St Michael’s Catholic College in 2015. In 2017 Catherine May of St Saviour’s & St Olave’s, assumed the role of co-director, taking over from Grainne Grabowski.

The Partner Schools involved have changed over the years.  In recent years the SSLP has introduced the category of Associate Partner as we welcome actively interested schools from outside the borough who, by means of public transport, offer good links with Southwark. If you are interested in joining the SSLP contact admin@sslp.education