Schools Together Meeting

Date of past event:

15th November 2017


Katie Barretta attended the above named Schools Together meeting on Wednesday 15 November 2017 held at LAE Tottenham, below are her notes if you are interested.
The first speaker was Adam Pettitt, Head of Highgate School.
Adam became Head of Highgate in September 2006, and is a governor of both LAE (London Academy of Excellence) Stratford and Tottenham, both ‘Free School’ sixth form academies.  Adam introduced to Highgate the ‘Chrysalis Partnership’ in 2007 as part of an initial ISSP grant.  This allows three full-time teachers (physics, mathematics and chemistry) to teach in over forty local schools, gaining experience of diverse settings, working with pupils and colleagues from state schools and to collaborate with national and academic organisations.  As well as acting as a critical friend Highgate now deploys 6 full-time teachers to LAE Totenham, a new selective sixth form which opened its doors in September 2017 to 110 Year 12s.
Adam spoke about the role LAE Tottenham is playing in the social mobility of local populations.  He mentioned that one of the biggest challenges was breaking down existing opinions of local 6th forms.  For historic reasons it is a widely held belief that you have to leave the borough to access good further education, it is hard for some ambitious students and families to risk trying the new Academy. Adam also encouraged us to question whether Oxbridge was the correct aspiration of success for all students or are there better pathways for some students.  He said social mobility could be encouraged by offering validation to students.
Next to speak was Jon Balon, Headteacher of London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham
Jon talked about the establishment of LAE Tottenham earlier this year.  He told that 10 Independent schools from Haringey and the surrounding areas are working as background partners to get the Academy started but just as importantly the Academy also has partnerships with the local community running 30+ projects a week.  Jon was joined by two current students who spoke about the importance to them of being part of partnerships.  The first said that being aware of the school partnerships made him feel part of the wider community and that he had high expectations for the quality of his teachers.  The second told how her career goals had changed with more links available and she was able to work on extra-curricula activities.
The third programmed speaker was Sarah Chick, Director of Education – Villiers Park Education Trust
Villiers Park works with academically able students from lower-income families, she particularly focused her talk on the INVOLVE programme which is a UCAS recognised award system empowering students to set up and run projects that enrich their learning communities.  Sarah talked about the need for teaching skills for life not just for university if we are to achieve social mobility – she gave the example of the issues faced by students entering a communal formal dining hall if they have always eaten on the sofa.  She talked about academia not always being the main barrier to achievement but that students needed confidence to get top jobs.  In order to do this she said partnership working had to be sustained and embedded.
The final panelist was Susie Whigham, National Programme Director – The Brilliant Club
The Brilliant Club runs the Scholars Programme which gives students the chance to experience university and not just to hear about it.  She spoke about the need for parental engagement early on in the further education discussions, and to normalise talk of university throughout the whole school.  She aspires to encourage interests and passions outside of the curriculum so that students are ready for university with an A* in Culture Capital.
Questions & Answers
In the Q&A session that followed the panel were asked
What is Social Mobility?  The conclusion was that it is about offering a choice to our students, if they can envisage having a job when two generations before them have not, then this is Social Mobility.  They were keen to stress that acceptance at Russel Group universities is not the measure to use and that this is a long-term issue that might only be addressed with the next generation; we need to encourage today’s students to identify education as the solution for their future children.
How can we share and evidence partnerships? It was stressed that partnerships should be an active engagement with tangible outputs and outcomes and that these are easier to measure than a one-way sponsorship.
Will apprenticeships help social mobility? It was recognised that Apprenticeships will offer new pathways and opportunities so there is certainly the potential for them to be part of the solution.
The evening concluded with a Keynote speech from Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner
Sir David Carter spoke of the Value of Partnerships, saying that every child is entitled to the best and that partnerships were a way to achieve this.  He asked us all to consider what Social Mobility means to our students, because the right programme will be different for every child and so our teaching needs to be unique as well.  He then told us a little more about what the department of education wants.  He said that they are looking for sustainable partnerships whether that be sharing leadership and governance or developing singular areas of the curriculum.  Before entering in to a partnership schools should think about what area of school life they are targetting for improvement.
Sir David was asked How do we measure Social Mobility? He concluded that it involved long-term monitoring – not just recording how many students went to university but how many stayed there – and considering keeping records of confidence and aspirations rather than purely academic.  He concluded that whilst independent schools tended to maintain links with previous pupils, it is state schools who are better at knowing the progress and development of each child whilst they are at the school.