Letters extra: Partnership must be reciprocal

9th May 2003 at 01:00

The issue of partnership between independent and maintained schools deserves more positive treatment then Cherry Canovan gives it (25 April). A new forum with strong representation from both sectors has recently been established by the government to explore ways of developing co-operation further. The Independent Schools Council and the Local Government Association have set up a joint committee whose key task is to confront obstacles to partnership at a local level.

For some years the ISC has produced reports on the links between its member schools and their local communities. The latest report to be published shortly will show that nine out of ten share facilities where they can with maintained schools and the community. So there is no half-heartedness where ISC schools are concerned.

But if partnership is to work effectively it must operate on a fully reciprocal basis. Our member schools need to be absolutely certain that this vital principle is fully recognised by the government and that the appropriate funding follows. The exclusion of our teachers from government-funded initiatives for the benefit of the entire teaching profession has therefore been a major bone of contention.

There is a need too for the government to respond to ocnstructive suggestions that have been put to it by the ISC and its member associations. These include the use of specialist teachers in ISC schools to help cover subjects that are not readily available in many maintained schools, and the introuduction of a scheme to give access to a boarding schools education for those in the care of social services who need it. The latter could even save the state money.

Alistair Cooke
General Secretary, Independent Schools Councilnbsp;

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