Independent and state school partnerships reach new high - ISC Census 2017

Posted on: 28 Apr 2017

Partnership work between Independent School Council (ISC) schools and state schools is at its highest ever level, with new figures revealing an estimated 175,000 state pupils are currently benefitting from initiatives between schools.

Read the full report ISC Annual Census 2017.

At a time when politicians have been asking questions about independent school support for state schools, the 2017 ISC Census reveals the huge amount of partnership work already taking place voluntarily.

Ten thousand different partnerships now exist with state schools, a figure which is 7.5% higher than last year. The types of partnerships vary from academy sponsorship to seconding teaching staff, serving as governors at state schools and sharing facilities to partnering for activities and projects.

This year’s Census also shows:

  • There are now a record 522,879 pupils at 1,301 ISC member schools – the highest number since records began in 1974.
  • 16% of pupils aged 17 and over in England go to ISC schools.
  • £900m was provided in fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools, an increase of 4.9% compared to last year.
  • Average fee increases this year were 3.5%, in line with last year and the lowest since 1994.
  • ISC schools are equally divided between those who use academic selection and those who do not.
  • 32% of pupils are from a minority ethnic background.
  • ISC pupils on average spend 4-5 hours a week engaged in sporting activities. This compares to less than 2 hours a week nationally. ISC pupils spend on average 1-2 hours a week in performing arts activities.
  • 91% of all ISC pupils went on to higher education, with 55% going on to a Russell Group university.
  • Between £10m and £15m was raised for charities at ISC schools this year and 851 ISC schools organise volunteering opportunities for their staff and/or pupils.

Completed by all schools in ISC membership for 43 years, the ISC’s Census provides a picture of where independent schools sit within the UK's education landscape and is regarded by government, policymakers and opinion formers as the authoritative source of such data.

Julie Robinson, General Secretary of ISC, said: “The role independent schools play in our diverse educational landscape should not be underestimated. They are not only supporting the development of academically successful, conscientious and confident young people, they are also providing a huge number of learning and sporting opportunities through partnerships with state schools.

“Many people do not realise that 88% of our schools have a partnership with a state school, a statistic made even more noteworthy considering the average size of school is only 400 pupils and 77% of our schools are charities.

“What is so important about every single partnership is that they are undertaken as voluntary agreements between independent and state schools. This is what makes them so successful, and we look forward to extending this work going forward. Forcing partnerships which are not agreed by both parties would clearly be counter-productive.”

David Goodhew, Head of Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, said: “Partnerships can be a ‘win-win’ for children in all types of school, provided they are locally arranged, meaningful, and bespoke. At Latymer Upper we work with over 50 local state schools in a range of different programmes designed to meet their specific requirements. Our students and staff find it hugely rewarding, while our partner schools benefit from invaluable assistance with academic subjects, sport, music, professional development and governance. Like most independent schools we strive to be ‘good neighbours’ and play an active role in our community.”

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman of ISC, said: “Pupil numbers now stand at their highest level since records began in 1974 and we’ve seen yet another increase in fee assistance, much of which has gone to children from lower income households.

“ISC schools offer pupils excellent all-round education, a serious and professional approach to pastoral care and a focus on soft skills. Undistracted by state-imposed accountability measures, our schools are free to focus on the needs of individual pupils, supporting them to become committed and confident young people who thrive when challenged.”