Education: Schools - Isolated sixth-forms band together

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The Independent Online
Sir William Romney Comprehensive, fee-paying Westonbirt School (both in Tetbury, Gloucestershire) and Malmesbury Comprehensive School, Wiltshire.

These three schools have small sixth forms and have been running a co-operative scheme for almost eight years.

The three headteachers meet twice a year to organise various joint activities: shared general studies lectures, careers events, university interview practice, and gap-year advice.

"I can't speak too highly of the arrangement," says Gillian Hylson-Smith, headteacher of Westonbirt School, an independent school with 250 girls. "It is all gain."

Eric Dawson, headteacher of Sir William Romney, is equally enthusiastic. "What we have is a partnership of equals which stems from the fact that we are all relatively isolated and have small sixth forms. Together we can enhance what we can all do for our young people."

The partnership is sharing expertise on information technology and GNVQs, on which Westonbirt felt in need of advice. And the local TEC, based in Swindon, where Toyota is a major employer, was so impressed by the potential of the joint arrangement that it has provided a car for a new Japanese teaching assistant. Based at Westonbirt, she travels to teach conversational Japanese at Sir William Romney and Malmesbury School.