Two Welsh-medium schools in Swansea, Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr and Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe, have given pupils aged 14-19 more choice about learning and a wider variety of experiences thanks to their partnership working and resource sharing.
The Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr and Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe 14-19 Partnership was established in 2006. Both governing bodies agreed to share staff and resources in order to expand Welsh-medium 14-19 learning pathways for pupils of the two Welsh-medium schools within the City and County of Swansea. This step was taken in response to the challenge of the national priorities and local context as the local authority established Bryn Tawe as a second Welsh-medium secondary school.
The nature of the strategy / activity
The first step was to agree a shared vision throughout both schools and then formulate a detailed action plan. A series of meetings were held between both governing bodies which resulted in setting up a joint committee to agree on the principles of the partnership and on a clear strategy. Joint staff meetings were also held to share the vision and the strategy.
Protocols for collaboration and sharing staff and resources were established as a basis of the partnership.
The governing bodies and staff of both schools are wholly committed to the protocols.
The partnership between the schools was further developed by working in partnership with local colleges, particularly in order to provide vocational options through the medium of Welsh. This partnership working was also further enriched by developing a large number of other partnerships with various agencies within the school community that contribute extensively to the 14-19 provision and the Welsh Baccalaureate.
As a further natural step, a Sixth Form Partnership was established in 2008 when a new sixth form was established in Bryn Tawe. There is close collaboration and co-ordinated planning between senior leaders and staff of both schools. Teaching staff are shared to take advantage of the expertise in both schools for the benefit of the students. The joint planning of the curriculum has meant the implementation of the Welsh Baccalaureate across the sixth form partnership and forms the basis of the sixth form curriculum. The timetables of both schools are planned jointly annually. Also both schools plan together the annual calendar with common information-sharing evenings and induction events for pupils and their parents. There is regular contact, effective communication, continuous monitoring and quality control based on a relationship of strong trust that ensures the success of the partnership.
The effect on pupils’ outcomes
This partnership working has ensured excellent outcomes in terms of results at A level, level 3 key skills and the advanced Welsh Baccalaureate diploma. It has also provided rich experiences through a series of joint activities that have expanded students’ horizons and given them excellent preparation for the next stage of higher education or the world of work. In addition, there has been a significant increase in the number of students that stay on into the sixth form in the school as a result of the wider provision and the progression of 14-19 year olds to suitable learning pathways. The partnership work ensures value for money by sharing the costs of providing the curriculum between both schools in a cost-effective manner.