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Myth-busting: “Independent schools operate in their own little bubbles”

Posted on: 11 Apr 2019
Posted by: Myth busters

In the next "myth-busting" blog, the head of Colfe's School, Richard Russell, counters the view that “independent schools operate in their own little bubbles”.

A claim I have heard on several occasions is that those who attend an independent school exist in a “bubble” – disconnected to the world beyond the school gates and enclosed within a learning environment that lacks diversity.


This is far from the truth. Colfe’s School attaches great importance to playing a full part in the life of its local community and this is true of many independent schools. In fact, across the country state and independent schools are collaborating on curriculum-relevant projects and developing lasting relationships between pupils, teachers and local communities.


Colfe’s works closely with a number of state schools in the London boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Southwark on a variety of different partnerships. The essential aspect of all partnerships is their clear benefit to all pupils involved, and this is something we work hard to ensure.


Projects we are involved in include modern languages workshops for teachers and pupils in Year 10 and 11, science and maths masterclasses, as well as support from our sixth formers in key areas at primary schools. Our weekly Latin classes for Year 9, 10 and 11 pupils, through which they can earn a WJEC Latin certificate, give young people an opportunity to study a subject they might not otherwise be able to.


As well as a varied programme of partnership activities, we also provide financial aid for pupils whose families would struggle to meet the school fees, especially those who qualify for free school meals. Academic merit-based and means-tested scholarships are available at the point of entry to our senior school and a ground-breaking sixth form scholarship programme – The Leathersellers’ Scholarship – offers up to 15 fully-funded places each year for teenagers from low-income families at local state schools. Their fees are paid by the programme and many scholars go on to study at best universities in the country.


This programme is absolutely consonant with the social vision and purpose of our founder, Abraham Colfe, and with that of the Leathersellers’ company, which supports the programme.


Demi Cole, former recipient of the Leathersellers’ Scholarship and recent graduate in Philosophy from Cambridge University, said: “It’s not an exaggeration to say it has changed my life.”


Jospeh Mafe, former recipient of The Leathersellers’ Scholarship, and graduate in Mathematics from Bristol University, said: “I enjoyed every moment at Colfe’s. It was life-changing. You have to work hard but it is an amazing school, friendly and encouraging.”


See current and former Colfe’s students discuss the Leathersellers’ Scholarship Programme.


To see other examples of cross-sector partnership collaboration, read the third edition of ISC’s Celebrating Partnerships booklet.

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About Myth busters

In a series of "myth-busting" blogs for the ISC, pupils and school leaders help to dispel some common misconceptions surrounding the independent schools sector.