Opinionate!

York ISSP, York Human Rights City and The University of York look forward to welcoming students on Monday 11 June & Wednesday 13 June 2018 for the latest Human Rights workshop. Participants will learn to discuss and debate Human Rights issues based on real people’s experiences. The topics that will be dealt with range from the use of food banks and women’s rights to the right to an education and the right to a home.

 

School Partnerships Take Centre Stage

Tom Arbuthnott School Together 2018
More than 130 delegates have gathered in York for a major conference designed to promote partnership working between state and independent schools.

The Schools Together conference attracted representatives from across the country, including staff from both primary and senior state and independent schools, the Department for Education, universities, multi-academy trusts, the New Schools Network and charities including Springboard and the Ogden Trust which work to improve access to quality education. Representatives from school umbrella bodies, including the Independent Schools Council and the Girls’ Schools Association, were also in attendance.

Tom Arbuthnott, Chair of the Schools Together Group and Director of Outreach and Partnership at Eton College (Photo above), said: “There is a vast amount of partnership work taking place between state and independent schools, benefiting thousands of pupils every year – but much of this work is going unreported and unremarked. The Schools Together conference is an outstanding opportunity to share ideas and best practice, and provide advice to schools on how to extend their activities.

“Working together, and learning from and inspiring each other, is the only successful route to successful partnership. I am delighted to have the support of the Department for Education and the Independent Schools Council in bringing so many schools together.”

The event was hosted by the York Independent State School Partnership, which is an equal partnership of nine state and three independent schools, and has been hailed nationally as an example of best practice in school partnership work.

Leo Winkley, Head Master of St Peter’s School and Chair of the York ISSP steering committee, said: “We have witnessed at first hand in York the difference that real, sustained collaboration can make to young people. Our partnership work here is not only inspiring pupils and staff by providing them with many more opportunities than we can ever offer individually, but there are also early signs that participation in partnership activities can in itself help to increase academic attainment for some pupils. Successful partnerships require wholehearted commitment and a genuine sense of mutual benefit, but where they are working well, they add value for everyone involved.”

Summer School 2018

Following our successful summer schools from 2013 to 2017 we are pleased to announce that once again we are holding an academic summer school this year, for able, interested and motivated students in year 7 to 10 from our 12 partner schools across the city.

The summer school is 4 full days from Tuesday July 24 to Friday July 27 at Manor CE Academy and will take the form of an extended masterclass with the young people studying one subject over the 4 days.

Flyers are being sent out by schools with information about how to register for the launch meeting which is on Tuesday 1 May. If you have not received this by the 13 April,  and would like to attend, please get in touch.

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

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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