Ofsted should ‘oblige’ state schools to work with independent schools, urges head

CREDIT: This story was first appeared in Tes

‘Class war’ blamed for some state school heads not entering into partnerships with independent schools, Tes reports.

Ofsted should “oblige” state schools to enter into partnerships with independent schools if offered, a private school head has said.

Martin Stephen, principal of the National Mathematics and Science College in Coventry, has said state schools “fighting a class war” turn down partnerships with private schools.

His comments come after the Department for Education (DfE) stepped up its plans for more independent schools to support state schools from September onwards.

Speaking at the Girls’ School Association (GSA) annual conference in Manchester, Mr Stephen said independent schools have a “vast store of expertise in teaching the more able” and he said there has never been a greater need to export this expertise into the state sector.

And yet, the private school head said today that a number of state school heads do not enter into partnership with local independent schools “through dogma and prejudice and fighting a class war”.

Mr Stephen said: “Where an independent school has offered a feasible partnership in teaching the more-able student, at inspection, Ofsted should oblige the maintained school to enter into that partnership.

“I use the word ‘oblige’ and not the word ‘invite’. There will be bruised egos and bruised prejudices, and undoubtedly attempts to sabotage such schemes.”

He added: “I consider 65,000 children [the number of high-attaining pupils leaving primary who did not achieve A or A* at  GCSE in English or maths] far more important than any head’s bruised ego, or the remnants of a class warfare that should not be allowed to injure our children.”

The DfE’s Green Paper last year and the Conservative election manifesto said that independent schools could face losing tax breaks that come with charitable status if they did not cooperate in state school partnerships.

The consultation paper, entitled Schools That Work for Everyone, proposed that “independent schools with the capacity and capability” should sponsor an academy or set up a new free school – or offer a proportion of places as fully funded bursaries to those unable to pay fees.

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The Tory manifesto said at least 100 leading independent schools would be expected to become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools in the state system.

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