Mr Will Parker
Director of Sport and Physical Activity and College CEP lead
Launched in October 2019, the Cheltenham Education Partnership (CEP) is an equal partnership combining 11 of Cheltenham’s state and independent secondary schools with the University of Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire College. It has three main strands of activity: Teacher subject networks for sharing best practice across schools; events and projects developed by CEP for all schools; and events delivered by schools which are then opened to other schools where spaces allow.
Giving students a voice
It’s important for Cheltenham to have an education partnership like this because it enables pupils to work together and learn from each other. Much of the programme established by the CEP gives the pupils a significant voice in what is put on and how it works for them. There is now a ‘Student Voice’ committee, with young people from each school represented, where they decide the direction of travel for the partnership and what events and activities take place.
Our staff and pupils get involved in the different events and activities that take place. The ‘Chelt 4 Change’ debating programme was developed last year by a small group of SFC2 (Year 13) pupils who wanted to give students a voice and challenge adults on inequality in society. Chelt 4 Change evolved into a debating programme open to all schools and drawing together experts and policy makers from across the political spectrum. A truly impressive panel was recruited and the programme was launched in Spring Term 2022 in the Parabola Arts Centre to great acclaim. Following the successful launch, the Chelt 4 Change programme will now continue on a termly basis with schools taking it in turn to host.
Another notable project that College pupils were involved in was the climate change project ‘Change Makers’, which involved a year of education and planning, culminating with a Climate Summit at the University of Gloucestershire in June 2022 attended by a group of pupils from UC4 to SFC1 (Year 10 to Year 12). In working alongside pupils from our schools, the young people involved were empowered by the shared passion and commitment to tackling climate change.
Many of the projects delivered in partnership are either deepening the learning that takes place in the classroom, or helping link different academic areas into an action-led initiative – putting learning into practice.
It’s not just about the pupils either, there are more than a dozen subject specific networks across Cheltenham where teachers and other school staff collaborate to help their own professional development. Most of these have been created off the back of the CEP. For example, there are staff networks for a range of subject areas and also areas such as careers guidance. We’re already seeing lots of benefits to this networking of teachers across Cheltenham with sharing of great practice through to joint professional development and training.
As a collective of secondary schools across Cheltenham, we are much more than the sum of our parts. Working in a truly collaborative way allows us to tap into the knowledge and experience amongst the pupil and staff bodies in the town. We would be foolish not to harness that to enrich the experiences for all.
The photos below show the ChangeMakers' Climate Summit and Chelt 4 Change debate