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Expert backing for Dorchester schools partnership
A PARTNERSHIP for schools in and around Dorchester has been given expert backing as it enters a new phase.
Former Schools Commissioner for England Dr Liz Sidwell praised the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership on a visit to the county town and backed plans to form a trust.
Her appearance at Sunninghill Preparatory School’s speech day was Dr Sidwell’s second visit to the county town in less than a year as she looked around two other schools in the partnership before Christmas.
Dr Sidwell said she was impressed by what she had seen at Sunninghill and was pleased with the progress of the partnership and the way it involves private and state schools including first, middle and secondary schools.
She said it fits into the Department for Education’s aim of providing a ‘seamless’ transition through to the age of 18 and she was aware the department had taken an interest in the Dorchester model as an example to others.
Dr Sidwell said: “What I am interested in is how good schools like these work together and we have got that in the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership.
“Not only are they working together, they want to do even more to benefit every child. Every child should have access to opportunities and these children are role models of what is best in education.”
Future plans for DASP include the formation of a trust by 2015 that will see the schools working with local employers and community groups to stop the loss of talented youngsters leaving the county to find employment.
Dr Sidwell said it would also benefit the children as they would get a more rounded education.
She said: “We want children to learn what is going on outside the school, we don’t want them to be in a bubble.”
Headteacher of the Thomas Hardye School Mike Foley welcomed the support from Dr Sidwell.
He said: “Liz Sidwell’s support helps us to move closer to the DASP intention of being a virtual ‘one school’, providing consistent standards across the board for children aged two to 18 in the Dorchester area.
“All the schools will co-operate on improving teaching and learning with each one retaining its character and individuality.”
Headteacher of Sunninghill Preparatory School Andrew Roberts-Wray said: “The importance of young people in the modern world learning to work together, regardless of background or ability, cannot be over-estimated.
“I’m very grateful to Liz Sidwell for giving her time to support us in this venture for Dorchester and for taking our vision to the rest of the country.”
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