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Why do we need to work in partnership and what does it mean?

posted 30 Jan 2017, 01:50 by Craig Nicholson   [ updated 30 Jan 2017, 02:32 ]
Schools cannot stand alone and expect to be successful. Schools by their very nature have to work in partnership with a variety of people and external groups, the local, national and international communities. They are the central hub of any area and must reach out to parents, families, governors, local community members and many agencies.
From September 2007 schools had a duty to promote community cohesion under the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

Community cohesion suggests a society/group/community with a common vision and a sense of belonging in which the diversity of people's backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated, valued and celebrated; where similar life opportunities are available to all and strong and positive relationships exist and are developed. 

Community cohesion in schools was reported on and inspected under the three following headings:

Teaching, learning and curriculum

helping children and young people to learn to understand others, to value diversity whilst also promoting shared values, to promote awareness of human rights and to apply and defend them, and to develop the skills of participation and responsible action.

Equity and excellence

to ensure equal opportunities for all to succeed at the highest level possible, striving to remove barriers to access and participation in learning and wider activities and working to eliminate variations in outcomes for different groups.

Engagement and extended services

to provide reasonable means for children, young people, their friends and families to interact with people from different backgrounds and build positive relations, including: links with different schools and communities; the provision of extended services; and opportunities for pupils, families and the wider community to take part in activities and receive services which build positive interaction and achievement for all groups.

 In 2011 however, the explicit duty on Ofsted to report on schools’ contribution to community cohesion was removed, although community cohesion remained within the scope of inspection. This meant that some schools reduced the emphasis on community and partnership working and switched their focus to other areas of the curriculum.

Subsequently the rise in gang crime, hate related crime and terrorism meant that yet again the need for further promotion of community cohesion was needed.

From November 2014 schools were expected to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. Then in July 2015 schools became subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This duty is known as the Prevent duty.


So what does this mean for schools and why partnership working?

In order to meet their duty, schools need help and support. They need contributions from different individuals and different communities, each holding and sharing different ambitions, aspirations, beliefs and life experiences, all working together to demonstrate the richness of neighbourhood, town, country and world.


How do we do this at NOPA?

We embrace the idea of community cohesion. We want to raise the aspirations, hopes and dreams of our pupils. We want them to develop tolerance and understanding, have strong fundamental British values, access a wide variety of experiences, develop strong and positive relationships , build mutual civility, be well informed, respect diversity and give something back.


We believe strongly in 'youth social action' - defined as practical action in the service of others to create positive change’ which  covers a range of activities such as fundraising, supporting charities, supporting other people, and campaigning for causes. We do this through working closely with the Step up to Serve campaign to encourage participation with social action.

We use the curriculum to deliver understanding and tolerance of religious beliefs visiting the local Churches, Mosque, Hindu Temple, Synagogue and Gurdwara.

We participate in the Show Racism the Red Card campaign reinforcing the tolerance and acceptance agenda.

We encourage children to support international charities and initiatives such as World Wildlife Day, International Literacy Day and Water Aid. 


We use our curriculum to offer depth and breadth of experience, wherever possible immersing the children in an environment which reflects the subject matter being taught. For example studying a habitat the classroom is transformed into a rain forest and studying Ancient Egypt the classroom becomes the tomb of Tutankhamen.

We partner with the local art gallery MIMA and The Museums Service locally and nationally to enrich and support curriculum delivery. Bringing into the school Authors, Illustrators, Theatre Groups, Musicians and Dancers also supplements the curriculum and addresses any experience deficit.

We work closely and engage with local services such as the Police, PCSOs, Street Wardens, Fire Brigade, Dentists, School Nurse and Opticians participating in their campaigns and competitions and gaining an understanding of their work through workshops and assemblies.



We promote the world of work and have many great partnerships with local and national industries and companies including Dow Chemicals, Visualsoft, Spearhead International, Raw Digital, Campus North, Perspective, Marvellous Me and Iris Connect, to name but a few. 

By connecting with these organisations we are able to be at the cutting edge of some major developments to support education, give children opportunities to visit work places and see for themselves what the world of work expects and what opportunities could be open to them.

Most recently our engagement with local 'tech' industries has been driven by our knowledge that many jobs in the local area are going unfilled due to a skills deficit not yet being fully delivered on by colleges and universities. If we can foster an interest in technology at an early age then this may influence our pupils choice of educational and work pathway. It has also influenced our decision to apply and be awarded the ICT Mark and to become an Apple Regional Training Centre so we offer our own contribution to improving the delivery of technology skills by training teachers in the local area.


We work with other schools, teaching alliances, academy trusts, colleges and universities to enrich experiences and promote ambition. We believe we demonstrate the commitment to lifelong learning by encouraging staff to keep studying, supporting work placements for students and volunteers, lecturing at universities, supporting and challenging other schools, publishing supporting materials and website for teachers and writing and publishing professional blogs.


We encourage the children to be involved in fundraising for a variety of charities locally, nationally and internationally developing their social action and the idea of giving something back. We aim to do this in a fun way encouraging pupil voice to drive the ideas and implementation.

At NOPA we believe we have developed a collaborative culture, members of the school community work together effectively and are guided by a common purpose. All members of the community—teachers, governors, pupils, families and partner agencies share a common vision of what the school should be like and work together to fulfil that aim. We believe we are stronger together and cannot work in isolation.

The stronger the partnerships the stronger the school!

A huge thank you to all who work with us to deliver experiences, support, challenge, aspiration, dreams, tolerance, respect, diversity and values we couldn't do it alone.

Chris Kemp-Hall (Principal) - 30th January 2017