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Norwich School Blog

Spotlight On: Partnerships - Mrs Thomas reflects on what Partnerships mean to Norwich School

Monday 15 November sees the start of School Partnerships Week, which celebrates meaningful partnership work between independent and state schools. In our latest blog post, we hear from Partnerships Officer Mrs Thomas, who talks about the significance of our Partnerships programme and what's coming up soon:

I joined Norwich School as a Partnerships Officer in December 2017 at a time when the School really wanted to cement and grow the links it already had with the local community. In 2018 we released our first Partnerships publication, Reaching Out, which was a summary of all the great things the School was doing in the community. It certainly set the bar for everything we were hoping to achieve and we've now published another three versions (you can find them all here) and our latest edition is in the pipeline!

The School has a long-standing tradition of embarking on Partnerships activities. From the sharing of venue spaces and facilities, curriculum workshops for pupils from other schools and teacher training and CPD for colleagues in other schools, to our fundraising for charity and being a co-founder of such initiatives as the Young Norfolk Arts Festival and Young Norfolk Sports Academy, the School has become well known for its desire to have a positive influence in our community.

One of our biggest assets is our Community Service Programme, which all Lower Six pupils take part in for two timetabled sessions a week. Each year our pupils work with around 24 organisations in different placements which include care homes, primary schools, community hubs and charities, giving a total of 4830 hours of their time in 2020-21. It's great to see, through this initiative, our Charities Committee and the actions of individual pupils, how keen they are to help others, especially for those who maintain the connection with their placement well after it formally comes to an end. We hope that sense of wanting to do good in their community will last them the rest of their lives. 

But it's not only the pupils who are keen to help, it never ceases to amaze me how willing my colleagues are to embark on a new Partnerships project and to give up their own time. Teachers are an incredible set of people, who have a particular passion for a subject and are so driven by it that they dedicate their time to instill the same love and enjoyment for others. If given the opportunity to do the same for children from other schools, I've found most will jump at the chance to do so! That's clear from the number of staff who give up their time at the end of the very busy school year to help teach in our University Summer School for Year 12 state school pupils. Getting to learn about some of the lesser-known courses we cater for in the Summer School, like Architecture and Classics, and getting to meet so many of Norfolk's most ambitious pupils and following their journeys as they apply for university really is the highlight of my year. 

Of course, Covid had a huge effect on what we were able to do as a school and it was necessary to rethink much of what we could offer, but again my colleagues did not fail me! The huge response to the biggest issues the community faced, such as a lack of PPE in medical settings and a need for meals to be made for vulnerable people, was incredible. Although the school was closed in one sense to pupils, we were very much still open and willing to help in any way we could. My huge thanks go to the catering and estates teams who made much of what was included in this report possible.  

One of the best developments I've seen since joining Norwich School has been how the ethos of positive community impact has become such an intrinsic part of what the School sets out to do and that there is a collective desire from everyone to make sure we are helping however we can, wherever we can. "Partnerships" is now fully woven into our language as a school and more and more individuals are willing to come forward with new ideas for collaboration. 

So what's next for Partnerships at Norwich School?

We're delighted that with the lifting of restrictions, many of our usual events are back in the calendar, such as Sensational Science workshops for Year Fives, our Dragons' Den challenge with Mile Cross Primary and our Discover Your Ability sports day with Able2Be. We're also seeking to maintain the momentum of the community and charity links we have made during the pandemic and to keep seeking ways in which to offer our resources to others. We are also incredibly excited to have been a co-founder of the WoLLoW Languages Project which was officially launched at its inaugural conference last week!

In the meantime, we're looking forward to the publication of our fifth Partnerships booklet and a new series of podcasts with some of our partners, watch this space!

As ever, if you have an idea for a project, charity or organisation where you think the School can make a difference do be in touch with me via partnerships@norwich-school.org.uk.

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