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Business & Economy

Partnership working driving collaboration at RGS

In 2020, the Royal Grammar School (RGS), Newcastle appointed John Smith as director of partnerships.

Having served as head of maths for the past 12 years and head of teaching for the last four of those years, John’s promotion to the senior leadership team was a statement of intent from the school and a significant step towards its vision to raise aspirations and attainment across the North East.

From well before the Covid-19 pandemic, the RGS had already supported a range of outreach activities including working with 10 state senior schools on a maths project, taking students beyond the specifications, and providing them with a wider understanding of the subject.

Since starting in his new role, John has focused on building relationships with partner schools and is delighted that the school has been able to establish an informal relationship with the Outer West Learning Partnership. RGS is now a board member of the collaborative partnership of 11 Primary and 3 Secondary schools in the West of Newcastle and will continue to work closely with this group of schools on a range of projects.

Speaking about his work, John, said: “While offering depth of impact through an increased number of bursaries remains a core part of the RGS ethos, we are also aware of the potential to inspire a far larger number of individuals through breadth of engagement in the community, which is really exciting for us.”

RGS’s partnership work was never more vital than during the last 12 months and John has been particularly pleased with the impact of a range of projects that have successfully continued remotely.

The RGS Digital Schoolhouse sessions, which see the school deliver ‘play-based’ learning to primary-aged children in computer science, have reached over 500 primary students, the Art in the Community project was short-listed for a Goldsmith’s Community Engagement award and as a founding partner of the free ‘Colet Mentoring’ maths app, the school has trained 16 sixth formers to offer free maths tuition at the click of a button.

Following the easing of restrictions, partner primary schools have been invited to swimming sessions with John receiving encouraging feedback, not just in terms of student progress in the pool, but the impact on confidence and resilience.

In less than 12 months John has seen his team expand, partly in thanks to support from the Reece Foundation.

The locally based charity, who focus on the improvement of education in engineering and related scientific and mathematical subjects, have funded a community maths teacher and a community physics teacher. The emphasis of these educators will be to provide support to teachers and gifted and talented pupils across the region in a way that is complementary to existing teaching.

John added: “We really are targeting those projects that are borne of genuine partnership, rather than a one-way ‘Outreach’ model of intervention. There is no doubt that we gain as much from the projects as our partner schools: whether it is Sixth Form volunteering, Staff CPD or the opportunity to share and cross-pollinate ideas for the classroom and beyond.

“I am very much looking forward to working with businesses and other institutions in the region to roll out upcoming projects in Primary Reading, Music, Debating, Classics, STEM and much more.”

For more information, or if you would like to get involved as a funder or in the design of our projects, please contact John on [email protected]