2nd Annual Schools Together Partnerships Conference

Wednesday 23 May – Hosted by York ISSP

This second annual conference of the Schools Together group is aimed at all who are interested in collaborative working and will be of value to those in both the state and independent sectors.  It will focus on the benefits that partnerships can bring to all involved, especially to children. The day, which is hosted by York ISSP at Bootham and St Peter’s Schools, will run from 10am to 4pm. There will be a variety of inspirational sessions led by people who are passionate about what they do.

The aim of the day is to showcase best practice. We hope to inspire those not currently working cross-sector to get started and to give new ideas and food for thought to those who already have a partnership set up and are looking for inspiration.

It is essential that you book in advance for the conference using this online booking form where you will be able to choose the sessions you would like to be involved in.

Once you have booked we will contact you nearer the time of the conference to confirm arrangements.  However, if you would like further information please email york.issp@gmail.com.

Twitter: @schoolstogether    @yorkissp    #schoolstogetheryork



Thoughts About Masterclasses Eleven Years On…

As our 12th masterclass programme is about to start, it’s time for reflection.

Providing a programme of masterclasses is where the York ISSP began. It is in essence what we were set up to provide; extended academically and socially challenging masterclasses for able young people from across the City. Who could have predicted that 11 years on we would have developed in the way we have, always with academic challenge at the heart of everything we do.

The masterclasses have developed in their format from year to year but some things haven’t changed. They remain an opportunity for extended learning yet are not taster sessions. Students who come with enthusiasm to masterclasses in year 7 are still there in Y11, enjoying and benefiting from the experience. We remain indebted to the commitment and expertise of the staff from the partnership schools who, in their free time, lead masterclasses in subjects about which they are passionate and who provide such wonderful and often life-changing opportunities for our young people.

One thing which has changed and improved is the venue(s) for the masterclasses. In our fist masterclasses young people were scattered around the city in different schools and other venues across York, for example the University of York or Art Gallery. This was very difficult to manage and students and parents had no real idea of the size and scope of what they were involved in. Since 2015 we have used just 2, geographically close, schools – one for each age group. They are both boarding schools, which are fully functioning on Saturdays, and are in central York making things simple and straight forward for all involved.

This is the fourth year too that we have linked all masterclasses together with a question as a theme. We began with ‘What is a Human?’ followed by ‘What is the Future?’ (a challenge for the History teachers, but, as usual, they rose to it with aplomb),’ What is Beauty?’ and this year ‘What is Truth?’ We are offering masterclasses with titles as diverse as ‘What makes Maths true’, ‘The Quest for True Sound’, ‘The Truth in What We See’ and ‘What is Truth in the Post-truth Era of Politics’.

This year we have almost 400 young people in years 7-11 from across 12 schools due to attend. These figures are similar for each of the previous 11 programmes. Over the next three Saturdays, students will experience 9 hours of academically challenging sessions led by teachers from across the Partnership schools. We have 30 teachers involved this year. For Y9-11 nine different masterclasses are on offer, and students will spend their time on one subject, or an aspect of a subject, not normally taught to this age group. Students in Y7&8 have chosen one from a choice of 3 groups and will experience a variety of subjects over the 3 weeks. There are 12 classes this year for this age group. They all grapple with the question: What is Truth?

It’s socially challenging for many of the students as we expect and encourage them to talk to each other, to exchange ideas and thoughts, all this in a school most of them don’t know, in a class with students they don’t know and taught by a teacher most don’t know. All hugely challenging to some but they seem to love it… 60% of those in Y9-11 involved this year have been involved in ISSP events before.

Student (and parent) feedback, both formal and informal, is something we take very seriously and use it to help shape what we provide. Of course it makes everyone involved feel good when we read: “It couldn’t possibly be improved, it’s perfect just the way it is” and “Just make it go on for longer”. It is, though, a positive thing to also get constructive suggestions, especially from the students. For example in 2017 students said: “It would be good to have a session where we could discuss with people in different classes what we’ve all done and learned”. This year we are providing exactly that for Y9-11 at the end of week 3 along with a social event – a meal together.

Each year we wonder whether we should have the masterclass programme again; the number of students signed up for this year gives us a message, loud and clear. Yes, we should. There is a huge thirst for learning in York, for academic challenge, for bringing young people together regardless of where they go to school. Young people benefit and that is the most important reason to do what do.

Annette G Aylett
York ISSP Coordinator

Year 7 Breakthrough Event

Report from a Yr 7 All Saints’ pupil.

On Tuesday 14th November the Independent State Schools Partnership (I.S.S.P. [a group of schools who hold extra-curricular events for students throughout the year]) held an event for students from all over York called Breakthrough. All Saints sent 10 students to St. Peters School (where the event took place) to take part in it. At the event 6 teachers presented what they thought to be humanity’s greatest breakthrough and got the students to talk in small groups about which breakthrough was the greatest of all.

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It was an excellent event that engaged the students present and got them talking with students from other schools. After the engaging debate had taken place the groups then chose the breakthrough which they would vote for. This is an exciting annual event which the students attending looked forward to – and were not disappointed!


ISSP 7-8

Announcing the first in this year’s evening lectures for years 7&8.  ‘ISSP 7-8’ is a termly event for years 7 & 8 running from 7 to 8pm where high profile speakers will enthuse and inspire your child through a 1 hour lecture. We introduced these lectures into our programme last year with great success; they were very well attended indeed.

We are delighted that Dr Elpis Pavlidou from the University of York is coming to talk about: “The Brain Squad Series: The Mystery of Letters that turned into Reading.” The talk will cover some basics of how the brain works and will show how a printed word turns into reading with the help of brain networks.

Elpis is a cognitive neuroscientist in the making who studied Psychology in Greece, went to Scotland to continue studying, decided to move to the USA to chase her academic ‘American Dream’ and is now based in England. In 2010, she received her PhD from The University of Edinburgh.

During that time, she published her studies in international journals and presented her work in conferences around the world. In 2012, Europe finally decided to fund her work for 3 years via the Marie Curie International Fellowships scheme. She is currently a Lecturer in Psychology in Education but is also affiliated with Haskins Laboratories (Yale University) and the University of Edinburgh.

Date: Thursday 30 November

Time 7.00pm – 8.00pm

Venue: University of York

Further details from the ISSP contact at your child’s school – see list