Schools we have partnered with
Queen Elizabeth’s School
We have been involved in debating with partnership schools for the last six years. These partnerships have mainly been with QE Boys, although at times we have also debated with Fortismere and Highgate schools. The debates have taken place in all three schools and have usually involved half the year group at a time. Where it has not been possible to have a joint debating partnership opportunity we have tried to ensure that all students have had a chance to debate in school with their peers. Our aims in these partnerships have been several. Firstly, we feel that it is advantageous for our students to have the experience of mixing with a variety of students. Secondly, these opportunities give our students the opportunity of engaging in in independent research on a variety of demanding topics. Thirdly, working in mixed groups of boys and girls means they have to learn to work collaboratively with people they are not used to working with and possibly encounter a different way of working. Lastly, we want the students to have an experience of the rules and the cut and thrust of the debate itself and of course, to gain confidence in the art of formal public speaking. Throughout the process we have been refining our practice in order to see what works best. We always speak to the students after each debating day to discuss what has been the experience for them and this has helped us in our planning. The topics under debate have sometimes been decided by the students themselves, at other times by a variety of questions from different departments in school. At times the questions have been more subject based and at other times broader. All students participate in one debate and listen to three others. Throughout the day teachers take note of the students who have performed particularly well and they get to participate in as surprise debate at the end of the day.
We started our programme of debating with Sixth Form students where we debated a range of questions: ‘In Science and Mathematics one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no-one ever knew before. But in poetry it’s the exact opposite’ and ‘It is not possible to have an objective definition of good literature’. We then moved on to involve students in years 8, 9 and 10 on various subjects: ‘Every child should be given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and this should be funded by government’ and ‘All children under 16 years of age should be allowed free access to concert halls and opera houses’.
The partnership debating days are very much enjoyed by the students and the question at the end of the day is always ‘When can we debate again?’ The answer, hopefully, is ‘soon’.
Our partnership with The Bridge Academy focuses on department links and student exchanges.
Department links focus on identifying and developing areas of Teaching and Learning which we feel will benefit our students. Recent areas have included wider reading, debating and independent learning. The library at Bridge Academy is a hub of learning and there is capacity to feed some of the initiatives into the planning stages for our new library. Staff from Maths, English and History have combined to share good practice and to plan future projects. Teachers are very keen to work towards further collaborative planning and observation opportunities.
The Year 10 Student Exchange Programme enables girls to experience lessons and enrichment sessions in a different environment. In 2014, when the girls visited Bridge Academy, the focus was debating. Girls watched a ‘show debate’ led by Bridge Academy’s Urban Debate League Champions and had the opportunity to develop their improvisation and argument skills during a ‘balloon debate’. They also participated in Maths, Chemistry and Music lessons. When we hosted Bridge Academy, the girls had the opportunity to debate together and to participate in student-led dance workshops.
We are very much looking forward to developing the partnership.
Prince’s Teaching Institute
The Henrietta Barnett School is pleased to receive The Prince’s Teaching Institute Mark for 2014/2015. The Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) launched the Schools Programme in 2007 to recognise and reward school departments that develop inspirational ideas and activities which enhance teaching in a range of subject areas. It is run as a membership group for school departments that choose to commit to increasing the challenge of their subject provision, developing their staff’s specialist subject knowledge, building subject-based links outside school and enthusing their pupils through subject-based activities beyond the curriculum. After three years of Schools Programme membership, departments can choose to become Associate Departments by devising an advanced multi-year programme in one of these areas. As Associate Departments they have the opportunity to share their growing expertise with others in the Schools Programme to the benefit of all.
Tender Talents Partnership
As part of broadening the students’ perspective and enabling them to understand the situation of students in other parts of the world, we have formed a partnership with ‘Tender Talents Magnet School’ which has a strong emphasis on education through the Arts. The school, just outside the centre of Kampala in Uganda has 200 students, the majority of whom are girls, unfairly disadvantaged by the norms of society, and many of whom cannot meet their fees. A large percentage of the students have only one parent, or are orphans, due to the AIDS epidemic, which has swept the country. They have a very inspirational Director, Frank Katoola, who aims to provide underprivileged, talented students with a future, both through academic and artistic routes. The School is funded through school fees and money raised by local performances, international performances and donations. Students must show proficiency in an African instrument in order to be admitted to the school. As with HBS there is a real shortage of places. The school follows a British curriculum, although rather dated. There is an emphasis on the Performing Arts, for confidence, possible career paths and community education. They have a severe lack of classrooms, teaching materials, computers, facilities and even basic amenities, like access to clean water. Despite this, the students are enthusiastic, highly engaged and inspirational.
One staff member has already visited the school, been inspired by the students and staff, participated in an education conference, and given English lessons. Frank Katoola, the Director has visited Henrietta Barnett in 2012, been similarly inspired by visiting lessons and talking to students, and has given presentations to the staff and students as well as teaching sessions on African dance. Both visits have been instrumental in establishing and maintaining links. We have been directing some of our fundraising events towards sponsoring students who cannot afford school fees (public education is very lacking in terms of commitment and consistency,) and we hope to continue to do so. We have exchanged letters between students and we hope to continue with this too. We have had Skype links where students have talked to each other about life’s challenges in both communities, and where students have found striking similarities in each other’s’ interests and concerns! We earnestly hope to continue and extend these links in the future, for the benefit of both communities.
State school nationally in The Times GCSE league tables in August 2015, August 2016 and August 2017