ONE OF the biggest fears about the government’s education reforms is that it is pitting schools against each other.
The push for academies and free schools divorced from local authorities has created fierce competition at a time of dwindling finances and record-high performance targets.
But in Havant and Waterlooville an innovative scheme hatched almost 10 years ago means almost every school is working together, regardless of whether they are a faith school or a sponsored academy.
Cowplain School, Hayling College, Purbrook Park School, Park Community School, Havant Academy, Warblington School, Oaklands Catholic School, Horndean Technology College and Prospect Special School form the Havant Federation.
And this alliance of very different schools working towards a common goal has finally come into its own.
While schools nationwide are cutting courses and extra-curricular activities due to funding cuts, the federation continues to offer a wide and growing range of qualifications.
Among them are a Japanese GCSE course to a creative media diploma and horticultural studies.
David Rowlinson is head of Cowplain which is due to become a convertor academy in March and specialises in business and enterprise.
It will start offering law GCSEs to all federation schools from September.
He said: ‘When we first established the federation in 2003 we thought the unique characteristics of each school would enable us to get the best for all our pupils – and that decision is now paying dividends.
‘It is about ensuring all children in the area are getting the education that is right for them by pooling our resources together and sharing best practice.
‘A student’s best chance of achieving is if they are doing something they enjoy. If that’s not here, they can get it at another federation school.’
Chris Anders, head of Park Community, which specialises in the arts, maths and science, said: ‘The current political situation is about creating competition.
‘In areas I’ve worked in before there has been a lot of suspicion between heads which is distracting and counterproductive – but this is different.
‘We are all honest with each other and forthcoming in our ideas because we have a common goal which is the students.’