Strengthening links between the state and independent sectors is one of the most positive developments of the last decade for reasons that go beyond academic, pastoral and co-curricular activities.

Striking a balance between preparing children for roles in current workplaces, and incorporating traditional learning whilst maintaining student engagement is challenging to all schools. It is sobering that many careers and jobs today’s students will do, have yet to be created.

Irrespective of specific skills, expectations will be that young people are imaginative, collaborative, self-motivated and versatile. Schooling, then, is much less about preparing for examinations (or cramming knowledge – why cram when there is Google?) and more about how knowledge and skills are deployed. 

Being logical and articulate is relevant across all disciplines.

Ham & High: Richard Berlie suggests that many of today's students will do jobs that have not been created yetRichard Berlie suggests that many of today's students will do jobs that have not been created yet (Image: St Anthony's)

Effective partnerships involve pupils from different types of schools debating topics or undertaking shared projects together. A free market of ideas is always more interesting not least because argument is a great leveller not dependent on a child’s economic or social background.

Pupils who learn to listen are often better thinkers and typically more sensitive and respectful of others.

Breaking down barriers and prejudices serves an important social function too. Excellent pupils and teachers are found in both sectors and vice versa. Engaging children in shared tasks across a number of schools is certainly more interesting than having them operate as silos. As the poet once wrote, ‘No man is an island’ and neither should any educational establishment worth its salt be too.  

Beyond the academics itself, recognition that all young people face immense challenges and pressures wrought by social media, unrealistic expectations of themselves and life in general is vital. Happiness is invariably found in relationships and friendships. When life presents challenges, young people require strength of character, or resilience, to see them through.

At St Anthony’s the emphasis on service to others and the formation of an informed conscience helps children understand that life mostly consists of a series of choices between right and wrong, good and bad, altruism and selfishness. The value of each child’s being does not derive from their exam scores even less from the school they were enrolled at.

Oxbridge discussion groups, extra curriculars, music and drama are all ways in which private-state school partnerships may operate in practice. But the opportunity for human encounter and engagement, along with the possibility of transformation and friendship matters most. 

Richard Berlie is head of St Anthony's School for Boys, Hampstead.