The Power of Partnerships at FHS Regent’s Park

The Power of Partnerships at FHS Regent’s Park

7 February 2024

At Francis Holland School, Regent’s Park, our partnerships with multiple state school partners, as well as other independent schools, have been borne from the shared passions of our school community with other schools’ communities and offer students and staff invaluable opportunities to share ideas, expertise, best practice and facilities. The unique ‘schooling for life’ we offer, which values soft skills such as character education, emotional intelligence, creativity and a love of learning just as much as academic success, is hugely enriched by these partnerships, strengthening the collective student and staff experience for all involved.

The FHS Classics Department has been teaching Latin after school to students from St Marylebone CE School for seven years, and now teach six hours a week to approximately 55 students in Years 8 to 11. Head of St Marylebone, Kat Pugh, has described this as “a tremendous success that has developed students’ scholarship, commitment and academic confidence”. Our two schools also collaborate in a range of other subjects. Our Computer Science Department will be assisting St Marylebone with designing the curriculum for delivery of computing both within its own subject and across the curriculum, while our Economics Department is running an Easter 2024 revision day in collaboration with St Marylebone and another London state school, and our English Department have invited St Marylebone to a Sixth Form talk on the topic of love and marriage in Chaucer.

Inspired by the long-term success of our partnership with St Marylebone, our aim is for every department in the school to run an outreach programme during the 2023-24 academic year. Art has shared resources and helped to design the A Level curriculum with Haverstock School for the last three years and continues to do so. In addition, students from St Marylebone and Haverstock School will be invited to life drawing classes in the Spring and Summer Terms. The Francis Holland Literary Festival, which takes place in Spring, will extend invitations to local state schools for certain events. Drama will invite local primary schools including St Vincent’s School and our Mosaic Club for the elderly to a matinee of the school production and will deliver a Shakespeare workshop to St Vincent’s. Geography intends to invite a guest speaker on sustainability later in the year to which local state schools will be invited, and our Head of History is the lead on the Mosaic Club which we run every Monday afternoon for local elderly people who come and make mosaics with our sixth form volunteers. The Head of History is also facilitating an evening on the topic, ‘Which stories get remembered and why?’, which LSE Academic have agreed to join.

Our Head of History of Art works as a volunteer EPQ mentor at a local state school for Art History topics and donates resources to the charity, Art History in Schools. One of our Learning Enhancement teachers is a governor at a CofE primary school and chairs the curriculum and achievement committee there. The Maths Department intends to host a guest lecture in the field of A Level statistics, inviting local state schools and Sixth Form colleges. Modern Foreign Languages runs a German Day in November and an Italian Day in March to which local state schools are invited. For Music, the Voces8 Foundation Young Leaders Project was conducted last year in conjunction with St Marylebone School, All Souls College and Hampton Gurney Primary School, and is likely to become a biennial event. The PE Department are taking our Lower Sixth sports leaders to a local primary school to run sessions for students there and a PE teacher will teach PE half a day each week at St Marylebone during this term.

The Science Department is currently providing a Biology teacher to teach half a day a week at St Marylebone, and the Physics Department is running a “We Do Physics” Symposium in March, featuring talks by eminent physicists including Claudia de Rham, where we are inviting approximately 60 pupils from St Marylebone and Camden High School. Our Head of Physics is a STEM ambassador and is volunteering in the Blair Project which is encouraging young people from backgrounds which are traditionally underrepresented in the field of Physics to follow a career in this area. Six of our Year 10 students also recently led a ‘Rockets and Robots Workshop’ for Year 6 students at St Vincent’s RC Primary School. They delivered an inspirational STEM session, building mini rockets with paper and straws using a template designed by NASA, which was thoroughly enjoyed by both the FHS and the St Vincent students.

Further collaborative learning takes place at our annual Classics Symposium, featuring inspirational talks by University of Cambridge academics, which is attended by over 100 students from all over London and the South East, and our annual German Speaking Day, which is attended by over 150 students from partner schools in London and Bristol. FHS Year 10 student Isobel commented, “The performances were unique but brilliant. My German has definitely improved and it was also fun exploring the language with people who were at my level.”

Partner schools including St Marylebone, All Saints Catholic College and King Solomon Academy also take part in many of our enrichment initiatives, offering opportunities to share different ideas and perspectives and develop key soft skills. For example, pupils from FHS and our partner schools collaborate to lead interactive conversations and Q&A with our guest speakers at our Hale Lecture Series, where we’ve welcomed an incredible line up of speakers including Baroness Lady Brenda Hale, the first female President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Amanda Pritchard, CEO of NHS England, Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’ Diary and Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4. A Year 10 St Marylebone student commented, “I love the Hale Lectures at FHS. I’ve been to all four so far this year. My favourite has got to be hearing from Baroness Lady Hale and getting her to sign my copy of ‘Spider Woman’.” Meanwhile, Year 9 FHS pupils collaborated with St Marylebone and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on an exciting architecture project in early 2023. Students were challenged to redesign St Marylebone, developing problem-solving skills and creative solutions while forging new friendships.

FHS also hosted an anti-racism guidance event specifically for primary and prep schools in Summer 2023, in collaboration with ACEN (African Caribbean Education Network), Highgate School and Wimbledon High Junior School GDST, welcoming primary and prep school heads, senior teachers and industry leaders from all over the UK, including FHS Sloane Square’s Junior School.

Our Sixth Form volunteering programme offers further opportunities to expand our partnerships, with Sixth Formers volunteering with local schools and charities. We invite students from St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School to our school shows (the most recent of which was Much Ado About Nothing in December 2023) and ran an outreach fitness initiative for St Joseph’s Primary School during our annual Fitness Fortnight in January 2024. Our librarian supports primary school students who receive free school meals in Islington. During the holidays she provides a reading area to encourage families to read together. We are also pleased to share facilities such as our Swimming Pool with local partners including Swimmer’s Corner, who offer free swimming lessons to women and children in North Kensington.

Overall, working with and learning from others is instrumental in ensuring that pupils leave FHS with leadership, problem-solving and lateral thinking skills that set them apart in a rapidly changing working landscape, while also knowing the importance of compassion and humility in all that they go on to achieve. Thank you to all our partners for being a pleasure to work with and teaching us so much; we look forward to seeing our partnerships continue to thrive for years to come.

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