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Schools Together

Working with the Department for Education ISC is gathering information about successful partnerships and providing details of what works best.


87% of ISC schools are in mutually beneficial partnerships with state schools and local communities, sharing expertise, best practice and facilities to the benefit of children in all the schools involved. The Schools Together website illustrates examples of some of these partnerships.

The best partnerships develop between Heads or teachers really wanting to work together, out of genuine local relationships and enthusiasms.

ISC independent schools are hugely different, from the very large well known schools, such as Eton and Harrow, to the very small or non-selective schools serving local aspirational families. 56% of ISC schools have 350 pupils or fewer. They therefore need to work in ways appropriate to their circumstances and according to the local situation and need.

Schools Together Group

This is a group for those in schools (both state and independent, primary and secondary) responsible for running partnerships. The Group plans to organize termly meetings based on themes of interest to partnership coordinators, such as measuring outcomes and funding models. More information about this is here.

87% of ISC schools are in mutually beneficial partnerships with state schools

“The excellent work that King’s College School leads with seven partner schools is a great example of the strong partnerships that exist between many independent and state schools. It means students and teachers from both sectors learn from each other – and it is extremely beneficial all round.” Lord Nash, Schools Minister.

Co-operation and Collaboration

For some larger schools, such as Westminster or Wellington, this will take the form of sponsoring academies. More than 110 independent schools, either individually or in partnership with federations or groups of schools, are leading the sector’s involvement with academies and free schools.

For other schools, it will be a Partnership based on co-operation and collaboration between independent schools and the maintained schools in their area. Many of our schools have been doing this kind of work for years, unsung. There are now many flourishing independent state school partnerships, such as the City of York Independent /State School Partnership, the Southwark Schools Learning Partnership and the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership which are all well established and very successful, each offering a myriad of opportunities and benefits to all the schools concerned.

Partnerships based on co-operation and collaboration between independent schools and state schools

“The Partnership is at the heart of our school. I am passionate about it. We are always thinking about our partner schools and how we can collaborate with them through exchanging ideas and sharing good teaching practice.” Marion Gibbs, former Headmistress, James Allen’s Girls’ School and co-founder of the Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership.

Charitable Status

Independent schools are very keen to work with local schools. Contributing to and sharing with the local community is part of the very charitable ethos and purpose of our schools. In 2011, following a judicial review with the Charities Commission, it was determined that independent schools could decide for themselves the best way in which they could offer public benefit.

Our schools work with maintained schools in all sorts of ways. We:

  • provide qualified teachers in specialist subjects to state schools.
  • share expertise to help state school students get into top universities.
  • run joint extra- curricular programmes where the state school is an equal partner.
  • provide GCSE or A-level revision classes.
  • provide classes in subjects not on offer at some state schools, such as classics and Modern Foreign Languages.
  • offer shared subject workshops and masterclasses.
  • provide coaching with music, drama and sport.
  • offer Saturday schools to local state schools, such as James Allen’s Girls’ school in Dulwich, which provides 500 local children with music, dance and drama teaching every week in term time.

Contributing to and sharing with the local community is part of the charitable ethos of ISC schools

Bursary Provision

Independent schools have a strong commitment to supporting social mobility and would like to be able to offer more places to children who deserve, but can’t afford, them. There are over 43,000 children receiving means-tested assistance, with over 5,600 on 100% fee assistance.

  • Since 2011 the total value of means-tested assistance at ISC schools has risen by 45%.
  • Nearly 43% of all bursary holders have more than half of their fees remitted.
  • One third of all students on bursaries at Oxford come from the independent sector.

There are over 43,000 children, at ISC schools, on means tested assistance

ISC Schools Contribution to the British Economy

In 2014 ISC commissioned a report from Oxford Economics looking at the impact of independent schools on the economy. This found that:

  • independent schools generate £3.6 billion a year in tax, five times more than they get in terms of Business Rate Relief.
  • they save the tax payer £3.0 billion a year in educating children at our schools rather than the state sector, which is the equivalent of about 100,000 teachers.
  • independent schools contribute £9.5 billion a year to the economy.

Independent schools contribute £9.5 billion a year to the British economy