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Headmaster’s Blog – Independent/maintained partnerships – The Old Chestnut

November 27, 2014

The Press is once again filled with reports about a ‘threat’ to independent schools should a policy be implemented to areidlowres41force independent and maintained schools into partnership failing which so-called tax breaks will be removed from private schools. Several headlines attack the Shadow Education Secretary, Mr Tristram Hunt, for ‘offensive bigotry’, ‘patronising nonsense’ and for using the independent sector as ‘a political pawn’ – again!

There is certainly a strong argument to suggest that if charitable status is revoked and taxes imposed on independent schools many of which, like Ballard, are educational charities, then there would be fewer such schools in existence and certainly less money for bursaries and scholarships let alone partnership schemes across the education sector. The reality is, of course, that may such partnerships already exist and thrive to the mutual benefit of the schools involved.

At Ballard we have very close links with several local secondary and primary schools. Our Spring Term lecture series is run in close conjunction with three secondaries / academies and we share a Modern Foreign Language exchange scheme with one. We are in a ‘Teaching Schools’ initiative with two maintained schools which helps fund training for aspiring teachers and we often have teacher visits, as part of professional development, across our sectors. At the primary level we run regular sports’ sessions at Ballard, send our Sports’ Elite pupils to take games in lunch breaks and enable our Dance Visions’ pupils to inspire youngsters in the performing arts. In addition to all this (and more) we often offer our facilities to local music, dramatic and sporting clubs for their use, sometimes alongside our own pupils.

Several of the Press leader articles suggest that Mr Hunt is ‘barking up the wrong tree’ in taking on the independent sector in this way. As for Ballard, we shall continue to do what we feel works well for our own pupils and families by engaging in and sharing good practice and widening opportunities for all.

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