York Independent State School Partnership ISSP

York ISSP 2Inspiring pupils and teachers for nearly a decade, the York ISSP is one of the longest running and most successful partnerships in the UK providing outstanding learning opportunities for able and interested students across the city of York. The collaboration involves all but one of the secondary schools in the city, encompassing six maintained and three independent schools, including HMC schools St Peter's and Bootham, alongside two CofE Academies.

It started with a series of masterclasses for Year 7 to Year 13 pupils, providing academic challenge which individual schools alone are less able to provide. Now these are established annual events, with 300 pupils from across York addressing significant philosophical questions from ‘What is Human’ to ‘What is the Future’.

The York ISSP aims to

  • Reach out to all young people in the city regardless of their social, economic or educational background.
  • Provide the best educational opportunities for those able and interested.
  • Inspire mutual respect across sectors and a passion for learning in pupils.

What it involvesYork ISSP 3

  • Masterclasses: Students from the independent and maintained sector work together across three Saturday afternoons exploring the year’s question from Science, Humanities or Creative Arts perspectives. Topics have included: the psychology of madness and the mathematics of Angry Birds, with other sessions ranging from the evolution of language and the physics of space travel based on the film Interstellar. Classes are hosted by St Peter's and Bootham schools and taught by carefully selected teachers from across the partner schools.
  • Latin GCSE: for 60 students across eight maintained schools who do not offer it as part of their curriculum
  • Summer School: An academic 4 day summer school for Year 7 and 8 pupils involving workshops in a range of subjects
  • Enterprise project: initially offered over four weeks during which time cross-sector teams designed and pitched York-based sustainable business ideas.
  • The York ISSP successfully bid for Government funding for enhancing teaching in primary schools. The ongoing partnership started in Spring 2015 involving six York primary schools.


York ISSP 1The masterclasses are full or oversubscribed every year and the student response has been overwhelmingly positive. Over half of the pupils involved, 53.5% of Years 7-8 and 57.1% of Years 9-11, rated their experience as ‘Excellent’ with the remaining majority classing it as ‘Good’.

The York ISSP has been praised by leading parliamentary and educational figures. In 2016 the masterclasses were visited by Lord Wallace of Saltaire, York Central MP Rachael Maskell and Julie Robinson, General Secretary of the ISC, who observed classes and pupils’ discussions.

One parent wrote to say how much their child enjoyed his experience in the masterclass programme, stating that: “He returned from each session full of excitement and enthusiasm to share what he had learnt, which was a delight to witness in a sometimes quiet and monosyllabic 14-year old boy!” [1]

Head of St Peter’s York, Leo Winkley said: “The City of York Partnership is a healthy mix of genuine moral commitment and pragmatism.”

Jonathon Taylor, former Headmaster of Bootham School said: “If we can erode prejudice, encourage learning, and have a lot of fun, education in York has something to celebrate.”

[1]‘Testimonials’, Yorkissp.org