State-independent school partnerships will not work if they are forced

25 November 2014

Commenting on Tristram Hunt’s announcement today that the Labour Party would take away tax breaks for independent schools unless they signed up to partnership agreements with state schools, Peter Kent, ASCL President and Head of Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, said:

“Partnerships work when they are based on trust and are entered into willingly. As someone who has worked in independent and state schools, I know that there is much that both sectors can learn from each other. My state school has a longstanding partnership with an independent school where we share teaching and resources. It works because it is a two-way, equal partnership.

“More can be done to encourage and incentivise schools to work together, but forcing collaboration through regulation will not work. All partners need to see that there will be benefits for pupils on their investment of time and energy. Otherwise it is a waste of resources that could be better spent elsewhere. We don’t want more legislative hoops for schools to jump through. This would be a backwards step and not part of a self-improving system.

“In much of the country, state and independent schools have a healthy working relationship. We want to encourage this, but forcing schools to enter into partnerships is not the way to do it.”