Partnership brings schools together

July 28 2022


TWO popular primary schools are joining together in an official partnership.

Blackhorse Primary and Emersons Green Primary will have a single executive head teacher and work together in areas like planning and developing the curriculum and training.

The two schools will be led by the current Blackhorse head teacher Simon Botten.

The current deputies – Neil Fry at Blackhorse and Soraya Young at Emersons Green – will become heads of school.

Emersons Green Primary School head teacher Karl Hemmings is leaving at the end of the summer term. He is taking over at New Siblands School in Thornbury, a school for children with learning difficulties, after six and a half years in charge at Emersons Green.

Mr Botten said the new arrangement would be known as a Primary Excellence Partnership.

He said: “We start from a strong starting point: both the schools are already successful and popular with the community. However, we know that there are things which we can do better by working together. As Executive Headteacher, my role is different to that of a traditional headteacher who takes assemblies, speaks at parent events, gives out stickers for good behaviour (and deals with playground squabbles). The Executive Headteacher’s role is more around developing excellent leaders, developing excellent systems and developing excellent teaching and learning.

“Over time we envisage sharing expertise and leadership more widely across the partnership, with staff having more opportunities to lead projects across the two schools.

“What the partnership won’t do is try to make two cloned schools. Parents chose Blackhorse or Emersons Green because of each’s unique values, ethos and culture. The governors and leaders at both schools are committed to maintaining these unique differences as they are what makes each school distinct.”

Mr Botten said the first example of working together will be when Blackhorse computing lead Maisie Stack takes over computing across both schools in September.

The schools will also support each other in supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities, as both schools have Resource Bases to provide specialist support.

Mr Botten will lead information workshops in both schools in the autumn.

A spokesperson for Emersons Green Primary School said: “We believe this partnership will provide an opportunity to maintain the school’s unique identity and strengths whilst allowing both schools to mutually benefit from the sharing of knowledge and experience held within each setting.”

Mr Botten said the partnership was part of South Gloucestershire’s schools strategy, promoting formal alliances between schools, which had been seen to be “very effective” in the Forest Hill Federation between Staple Hill and Kings Forest primaries, which had both “improved significantly”.