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Bishop's Stortford secondary school heads cement cross-town working relationship

Collaborative projects will cement new solidarity between Bishop's Stortford's secondary schools this year.

Building links with Avanti Trust, the body appointed to run the two new primary and one senior school at Stortford Fields and St Michael's Hurst, is just one of the priorities adopted by headteachers across the town.

The Bishop's Stortford Educational Trust (BSET), established in 2015, is behind the push for unity. It is a partnership between state and independent schools to work together in areas including UCAS applications, school-centred initial teacher training, pastoral issues and financial efficiency.

Birchwood High School, Bishops Stortford.Head Teacher Dr Chris Ingate. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (27448065)
Birchwood High School, Bishops Stortford.Head Teacher Dr Chris Ingate. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (27448065)

Birchwood High School, Bishops' Stortford College, The Bishop's Stortford High School, Herts & Essex High School, Hockerill Anglo-European College, St Mary's Catholic School and Leventhorpe in Sawbridgeworth have agreed a set of "exciting collaborative projects" to help support students and staff in each of the schools.

Under the BSET umbrella, they will be working together to support teacher training, leadership development, curriculum planning and school-to-school support as well as looking at ways to save money with joint purchasing of key resources.

Birchwood head Chris Ingate, speaking on behalf of the group, said: "Parents in our area are very fortunate to have such an array of strong schools, but we believe that we will be even stronger by working more closely together whilst retaining each school's individuality and character."

BSET is hoping to work with Avanti Trust, which has been appointed to lead the new Bishop's Stortford North schools, to ensure that every secondary remains popular and successful.

Avanti beat a bid headed by the Herts and Essex High School to sponsor the secondary school – due to open in September 2022 – and two primary schools, with nursery classes. The secondary will be six-form-of-entry (6FE), which equates to 180 pupils. The primaries will be 5FE, providing up to 150 places.

The first primary – on former allotments off Farnham Road bought by education authority Herts County Council from the town council for £6.5m in April 2019 – is set to start in September. A launch date for the second has yet to be agreed.

When at full capacity, the 'all-through learning village' will provide 1,050 primary places over two sites – 420 in the west near Hoggate's Wood and 630 at the eastern school – and 900 secondary places on a campus straddling the A120 bypass.

Andrew Celano, head at St Mary's Catholic School, added: "We have developed professional and productive relationships across a diversity of independent and state schools. We recognise that collaboration between the sectors is of great value – learning from our diversity makes each of us better at what we do."

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