York Independent State School Partnership (ISSP) is an equal partnership of 12 secondary schools – 9 state/academy schools and 3 independent schools.
The partnership was initiated in 2006 when Jonathan Taylor, then Head of Bootham School, approached the Head of Educational Services at York City Council, to explore possible shared activities between all of the City’s schools. A bid written by Tricia Ellison, then Senior Advisor for York LA, and Jonathan Taylor, was successful in gaining significant funds from the government’s first scheme for encouraging such partnerships.
York ISSP started with a programme of master classes for the most able students across the city in the spring of 2008 with the aim of providing academic challenge through opportunities which schools cannot provide alone. Subsequently, our annual master classes have been a highly-regarded mainstay of the partnership. Since then our activities have flourished and grown and have included twilight training sessions for teachers, one-off conferences for students on leadership and global citizenship to presentations on career aspirations, and competitions for entrepreneurs. We now also run a termly lecture series for Y7&8 and a Maths Excellence Club for gifted mathematicians in Y8&9, both with the support of the University of York.
We provide Latin GCSE to students from maintained schools where it is not on the curriculum. This is very successful and in order to cope with increasing demand we added a second class 3 years ago. In September 2016 we started a GCSE Astronomy course for those passionate about this subject. In 2018 we ran our sixth summer school for students in Y7&8 to which, in 2016 we added a summer school for Y9&10, and also in 2018 our fifth residential course in the autumn half term, combining intellectual explorations with outdoor education challenge.
In 2015, the Partnership made a successful bid for government funding offered to enhance Maths teaching in primary schools through ISSP projects. With St Peter’s and Knavesmire Primary School taking the lead, this project involved six York primary schools. In summer 2018 we offered a Y6 transition primary project: ‘Widening Horizons’ which used our established masterclass programme as its model.
2018 saw the establishment of two new projects led by the students. Schools now have student ambassadors with the aim of supporting and developing the work in their own school and to encourage others to get involved. ‘Insightful Imaginings’, the York ISSP online student journal, is now up and running and is edited by older students to showcase the wonderful work that students in York produce.