The council’s education spokesman Will Sweet has praised the borough’s 32 independent schools for their role in educating thousands of children in Wandsworth and expressed his wish for greater co-operation and collaboration between local state schools and the independent sector.
Cllr Sweet has written to their head teachers to announce his support for their efforts and to call for more co-operation between the borough’s network of state primaries and secondaries and their independent counterparts.
And within just a few days his message has already received a positive response from a number of those heads.
He said: “I’m pleased at the reaction I’ve received so far. It’s clear there’s a real appetite for greater collaboration and partnership working between schools.
“There is already a good deal of co-operation and mutual support, whether it’s joint working in arts and science or sharing of resources like sports pitches and facilities. I want to build on these successful relationships and achieve much more for schoolchildren across the borough”
In his letter Cllr Sweet wrote: “I want to applaud your work supporting the council’s education work and ask for your further support.
“I would like to begin by reaffirming the council’s deep and long-standing commitment to diversity and choice of high-quality schools in Wandsworth. We consider the wide choice of excellent independent schools here an integral part of that offer, ensuring that parents and carers are able to make the best choice to access the education that they think most appropriate for their child.
“Your school is one of 32 independent schools in Wandsworth educating a staggering 10,465 children. An additional 9,266 two, three and four-year-olds are in private nursery settings.
“It is clear that you are a critical part of educating the young people of this borough and we could not do without you.
“As I look at the offer we provide across our diverse schools, I see opportunities for further co-operation to build on the collaboration that already takes place across the borough.
“I am aware, for example, that a number of local independent schools work with Wandsworth primary schools on a range of curricular projects in art and science. Equally, I know that the training, professional development and networking opportunities offered by our teaching schools and by the council’s Standards and Inclusion Service are taken up by a number of independent schools. I am delighted that this engagement has grown in recent months.
“I understand that a number of independent schools in Wandsworth have made generous offers to allow neighbouring local authority schools to access their facilities when convenient. I would like to build on this type of collaboration. It might not be suitable in all cases but I am eager for the council to serve as matchmaker if we can.
“Of course, we already have specific links with you in relation to our mutual safeguarding responsibilities, but I would like to explore chances to do more on a shared agenda; for example, in relation to children’s mental health and SEND.
"I firmly believe that the existing relationship between independent schools and the council already has mutual benefit but can nonetheless be enhanced even more.”