Partnerships in practice: a primary perspective
Steve Marsland, Headteacher at Russell Scott Primary School, talks about bringing science centre stage and empowering teachers.
Published: 8 September 2023
Partnerships are a fantastic way for schools to share their strengths and work together to improve their support for teachers, their opportunities for students and their facilities. When done well, partnerships can provide rich rewards for all involved. However, there is an ongoing struggle for schools to join partnerships and make the most of the opportunities they can provide. The Ogden Trust has been supporting school science partnerships for more than 15 years – Steve Marsland, Headteacher at Russell Scott Primary School, joined us recently to tell us why he thinks partnerships are so important.
Russell Scott Primary is part of the Ogden Tameside Regional Partnership, the school is in an area of significant deprivation; their FSM (previously at 23%) has increased by 20% in two years, reflecting the real time problems and increasing levels of deprivation. Steve believes that his school is lucky to be part of a “proper” partnership that involves school governors, senior management and classroom practitioners, and is genuinely shaping science and growing opportunities.
“When I first heard of the Ogden Trust and saw the opportunities that they were offering for ‘free’, I was a cynical headteacher and it was hard to believe. But our Ogden Trust partnership has given us free access to a wealth of knowledge, expertise and support…with a game changer being [Ogden partnership] funding to enable you to do more.”
Many primary teachers do not see themselves as science specialists or have the confidence to deliver the science curriculum. “Teachers and science co-ordinators in primary schools can feel quite isolated when it comes to teaching the physics components of the curriculum,” says Steve, “but I have seen the impact of the partnership Phizzi CPD and the Trust are winning hearts and minds and making a difference. The Ogden methodology in providing resources and teaching techniques is bringing science centre stage in schools.
“Phizzi CPD is giving teachers the confidence, the support and the resources to inspire the scientists of tomorrow,” continues Steve. “But it is about more than just delivering the curriculum, the teachers are inspiring pupils to think like scientists; through our partnership, we are now showing pupils and their families what a scientist really looks like and we are building real-world science links to climate and pollution, for example. The Ogden Trust partnership has helped our teachers to capture young minds and give them understanding and enthusiasm for science.”
The impact does not end when the pupils leave Year 6; partnerships can have a positive impact on the transition between primary and secondary. “We are able to work together with our partnership secondary schools to discuss provision, providing continuity and consistency, to allow children to build on their knowledge,” explains Steve.
An outward facing school, that embraces partnership working and has the full support of SLT benefits from the many positive effects of partnerships in practice, such as improved teacher confidence, agency and local community support and collaboration. They can also benefit from increased teacher recruitment opportunities, with teachers keen to join a thriving, vibrant community of science practitioners, and better retention as teachers choose to stay at a school where they gain greater fulfilment from a more varied role within a positive partnership environment. Better communication and understanding between phases and schools also has the potential to improve results.
“Our involvement in the Tameside Partnership is giving children life chances that they may not have otherwise had; these Ogden partnerships in science are providing the catalyst that is needed to start the conversations that will lead to positive change,” concludes Steve.
Ogden school partnerships
The Ogden School Partnerships programme provides five years of funding, support and CPD for schools who want to work together to enhance the teaching and learning of physics. Applications for new partnerships open each year between September and February.
Next week we will share thoughts from two secondary headteachers who talk about how partnerships can support recruitment, retention and results.