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9 Ways Your Primary School can Benefit from a Partnership with a Local Secondary

Get inventive when it comes to your relationship with your local secondary

  • 9 Ways Your Primary School can Benefit from a Partnership with a Local Secondary

Collaborative partnerships need to be reciprocal and mutually beneficial, but I wonder how many secondary and primary partnerships would say that they feel this about their relationship?

The term ‘feeder school’ immediately suggests there is a power hierarchy between the status of the phases.

A lot of secondary/primary activities suit the secondary school, as it is written off as marketing for admissions, but can leave primary schools feeling like they are being treated like second-class citizens.

Now that I am head of a Y7 start-up school, I am working on our current offer. Although we have a small team, we have lots of resources we can share.

Our core subject team is maxed out on its timetables, but our foundation subject teachers have capacity to plan and deliver subject experiences for local primary students.

Here are nine ways that primaries and secondaries can work closer.

1 | Invite KS3 teachers over

Secondary English and maths teams can really benefit by seeing how primaries pitch and deliver their subject. In fact, it would benefit all KS3 teachers to see the standards and expectations in primary and add more challenge into transition to secondary.

2 | Share your standards

Shoulder-to-shoulder marking of assessments, especially reading and writing, helps to develop a shared understanding of standards being met.

We asked for a copy of the best piece of Y6 writing and stuck it in the front of all books as a baseline for extended handwriting.

3 | Ask about masterclasses

Can your local secondary subject specialists offer language, science, DT or computing tasters to supplement your curriculum? Do they have specialist resources that they could share with you? We will be offering science practicals, Spanish tasters and coding lessons next year.

4 | Organise a community project

One of the best community projects we ran at my last school was an art project where five primary schools sent five students for one afternoon a week for a month to co-produce a piece of artwork. We held an exhibition to unveil the final piece. When some of the visiting students joined us a few years later in Y7, they already had a sense a belonging.

5 | Get sporty

This is probably one of the most common cross-phase opportunities. We recently hosted 150 primary students for martial arts taster sessions. The ‘thank you’ cards from the primary students brought a smile to my face. See if your local secondary can offer anything similar.

6 | Provide an audience

When I was a performing arts coordinator in south London, we invited our primary feeders to be our audience for our matinee full dress rehearsals.

This benefited the primary students by helping them to experience life at secondary with their peers and teachers, in a non-threatening activity.

This term we have primary schools joining us for a performance by the Maasai Mara to mark Black History Month.

7 | Host student leaders

#WomenEd co-founder Keziah Featherstone, a headteacher in Bristol, organised an event where Y5 and Y12 girls worked together on a #ThisGirlCan event to bust myths about gender stereotypes.

This gave the Y12 girls the opportunity to lead and inspire others, while the primary students met role models they could aspire to follow in the footsteps of.

8 | Ask for volunteers

Duke of Edinburgh is a fantastic vehicle for getting KS4 students to volunteer in your primary school as peer mentors, book buddies or club leaders. Our Y10 students run weekly clubs for local Y5s, including dance and orienteering.

9 | Explore extra-curricular options

With our small cohort of Y7s next year we are planning on inviting local KS2 students to join us for nightly enrichment opportunities to increase numbers at each session and ensure that our whole personal development offer runs.

Our primary visitors will have the opportunity to participate in sports, arts and learn new skills like Spanish and
photography.

We really need to bridge the gap between phases and be more proactive in building and maintaining these key partnerships so that our schools do not become islands.

I have written to all of my local primary heads to confirm what we can offer to them and invite them to confirm what they would like from us.

Make a contact within the senior leadership team responsible for transition, community partnerships and innovation at your local secondary and ask them how you can collaborate this year.

Hannah Wilson is headteacher of Aureus School in Didcot and co-founder of #WomenEd. Find her at thehopefulheadteacher.blog and follow her on Twitter at @thehopefulht.

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