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Celebrating our partnerships

Wednesday 22 November 2023

To slightly misquote Simon Mainwaring CEO of We First “Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of organisations to work together to build a better world within the next few decades.” This philosophy of teamwork and collaboration underpins The Grammar School at Leeds’s (GSAL) approach to partnerships.

At GSAL we aim to bring children and young people together on a range of projects to provide enrichment opportunities and aim to improve education outcomes for everyone involved. GSAL has over 25 partnerships with various regional organisations who share our values and purpose.

From Ilkley Literature Festival, LEEDS2023, and MathsCity, to the annual Teaching and Learning Conference and events with primary schools across Leeds, GSAL’s partnerships are mutually beneficial and often initiated and led by our partners. For example, our established partnership with Parklands Primary School raises the literacy and numeracy skills of young people and provides our sixth form students with inspiring volunteering opportunities whilst developing valuable skills.

The future is brighter for everyone when our region thrives.

Otley Science Festival always goes off with a bang. Family Fair Organiser Janet Love, said the “GSAL’s science teachers and students run fantastic activities for our visitors at the festival. They’re so enthusiastic and committed to putting across the value of being interested in science!” Hundreds of children – and adults – were “fascinated by the live locusts at the GSAL stand,” said Zara, teacher of biology at GSAL. “The highlight for the children was getting creative, constructing their own insects out of pom poms and pipe cleaners!” In sharing resources and time, both GSAL staff and student leaders hope to inspire the next generation of entomologists through their passion for biology.

GSAL also hosts workshops and events for over 50 primary schools such as author visits by Cressida Cowell and Katherine Rundell. By livestreaming these events into classrooms across Yorkshire over two thousand pupils can take part and ask questions. There is no cost to the schools and the teaching day is not disrupted.

Sharing resources and opportunities and inspiration: this is the purpose of GSAL’s partnerships, which remains at the core of our contribution to the local community. Sue Woodroofe, Principal at GSAL is proud of the school’s commitment “to having a positive impact on young people’s lives in Leeds beyond our school gates.” At the 2022 GSAL Future’s Conference, pupils from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School attended to hear first-hand advice from GSAL’s alumni about careers from a wide variety of sectors.

Mount St Mary’s staff, including the head teacher, Mark Cooper, give up their Saturdays to run GCSE revision workshops for their students. Mark has said “through the creative use of GSAL study spaces for these revision sessions at the weekend, our students flourish in the comfortable and inspiring GSAL setting. Our students rise above their perceived and very real disadvantage and being afforded time to enter the GSAL community for a range of experiences and exposure, is priceless in seeing their own worth and potential.” Together, the schools share experiences and aspirations. For a number of years, we have been building and strengthening our partnership, which has also led to a number of Mount St Mary’s students being offered a bursary place in GSAL’s Sixth Form. Mount St Mary’s alumni have been part of the GSAL student leadership team, including Head Boy. This partnership has helped raise their students’ aspirations, enhancing academic and life chances; we look forward to continuing our invaluable partnership.

GSAL’s partnership with Leeds City Museum (LCM) began almost 10 years ago and has continued to grow. Natalie Haigh, Learning and Access Officer at LCM, puts the success of their family fun days down to the alignment of values and goals, stating “both GSAL and LCM want to offer free learning activities and events for families together, in a friendly and welcoming space. With GSAL, we have been able to offer a range of high-quality events and engaging activities for families in Leeds.”

Our joint PhD project with Leeds Beckett University aims to better understand the transition of juniors to senior school and how best to continue their athletic development. Professor Kevin Till, Co-Director of the Centre for Child and Adolescent Physical Literacy at Leeds Beckett University said “our partnership with the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) is a great example of our commitment to working together to co-produce research that make a positive difference to people, communities, and organisations.” Sam Gregory, GSAL sport teacher and embedded PhD researcher, brings the joint project to life, and sees this research as pivotal to adapting the sporting curriculum to engage young people in sport, as well as to “improve motor competence, motivation and engagement in physical education.” From a researcher perspective, working at GSAL allows Sam to embed himself into the school and generate rich data whilst building strong rapports with practitioners at GSAL. In relation to the PhD work, this will all help with the transformative approach practitioners are taking towards Physical Education. Professor Kevin Till and Professor Dave Morley have recently been involved with the development of the physical literacy consensus statement for the UK, as well as launching the only centre for physical literacy within the UK. Sam has said “Leeds Beckett is a great institution and is at the forefront for driving change within this area, putting GSAL in a very exciting position in relation to developing an innovative PE program.” Professor Kevin Till believes the joint PhD helps to “co-create better experiences and opportunities for all children and adolescents and those who support them.”

As ambassadors for the Child Friendly Leeds initiative we are committed to making the city the best in the UK for children and young people. Our parents association donates hundreds of items of school uniform to the Zero Waste initiative, which provides much needed uniform to children across the city whilst saving tonnes of clothing from going to landfill. With the support of our partners we provide enrichment opportunities for looked after children and their carers. We organise gift collections at Christmas and Easter which sees the hundreds of items donated. Emma Southam, Engagement and Participation officer for Child Friendly Leeds said “the GSAL community are always generous and supportive” and “we greatly appreciate your hard-work in organising these collections which makes such a difference to hundreds of families.”

We can trace our roots in Leeds back to 1552, and as one of the oldest institutions in the city we take our civic responsibilities seriously. We have benefited from the generosity of philanthropists for over four hundred years, and we want to ensure that as many children and young people as possible benefit from their altruism. Our facilities are used by hundreds of schools, charities and community groups, every day of the week and every week of the year. Our partnerships and the sharing of our facilities are just some of the ways that according to research by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) that we contribute over £20m to the local economy and support 470 jobs.

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