As we move into the second year of our work at the Foundation for Education Development (FED) and following the launch of the FED National Education Consultation Report, we hosted a roundtable discussion focussed on ‘Partnership working : Art or science? How to develop and manage long term, effective partnerships for education’.
We asked Dr Steven Berryman, Dr Steven Berryman is Director of Arts, Culture and Community for the Odyssey Trust for Education. A Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London, and recently appointed the President-Elect of the Chartered College of Teaching. Steven is a Liveryman of both the Worshipful Company of Educators and Worshipful Company of Musicians, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, to share his insights following this roundtable discussion. Steven reminds us that ‘partnerships do not happen by accident’ and ’it takes time to build these relationships.’
The art of partnership and the partnership of arts
Starting my career in rural Dorset meant I was quick to see out like-minded musical colleagues to work with. We are typically small teams in arts departments, and we rely on visiting expertise to enhance our work as we can never be fluent in every artistic practice our subjects require. Working in partnership is very natural for musicians and artists; we play in ensembles, sing in choirs and thrive on making music with others. In my early years as a teacher I thrived getting to know colleagues in the country, connecting them with each other and students and creating work that would not have been possible individually.
Partnerships thrive when they start with a clear need and have clarity of purpose. In the arts it is hugely enjoyable to work with visiting practitioners so children can engage with expert creatives in a particular practice, seeing first-hand how such practitioners’ work. This can be hugely impactful for developing an awareness of a creative career, and careers generally are a fruitful partnership opportunity for many settings. Professionals from a range of industries engage with schools to provide children with insight into possible future steps, and partnerships with local businesses can be a great way for schools to connect with their communities. These partnerships started with a need; a need to engage with expertise to ensure children accessed rich experience to help them make informed choices, and to see professionals in action for an authentic and inspiring enhancement to their learning.
Partnerships do not happen by accident. In my role as Director of Arts, Culture and Community I have made it my business to connect widely with organisations and individuals in the community surrounding our schools. Through developing a relationship with our communities we learn what makes our school community distinct, and we learn how to not only enhance what happens in the classroom but enhance how our young people can contribute purposefully to their communities. It takes time to build these relationships. All parties need to opportunity to share their values, their drives, and their aspirations. The marvellous moment is when there is genuine alignment of values and shared aspirations emerge. When we discover we have a mutual concern and the opportunity to build a mutual solution, the art of partnership thrives.