Eight Norwich schools have formed a new kind of educational partnership which will see them working closely together to support young people aged three to 19.

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The Thorpe St Andrew cluster of seven primaries and one secondary school have signed an official agreement which is set to see them adopting a series of joint policies, pooling budgets available for partnership working and potentially sharing staff in the future.

Ian Clayton, principal at the area’s high school, stressed each school would retain its own headteacher, governing body, and individual identity.

None of the schools involved are considering taking on academy status and the agreement falls short of a federation of schools.

But the headteacher and a governor from each school will join a governors committee which will meet regularly to discuss policy and manage the cluster budget.

Mr Clayton said: “This is a way of us working together. We want to look at the continuity of education from age three to 18 or 19 and make sure we are doing the right thing for this community.

“This is about stronger education. We have got an education philosophy common across the school. It doesn’t need the branding of ‘academy’ to make that happen. We don’t believe we need any extra freedoms.”

Blofield Primary, Brundall Primary, Dussindale Primary, Hemblington Primary, Hillside Avenue Primary, Little Plumstead Primary, St William’s Primary and Thorpe St Andrew School make up the partnership.

As well as school leaders, the young members of each school council have also signed the agreement.

In in they pledge to: seek ways of working together for the benefit of every young person in the schools; promote the partnership that exists between the schools; support each other when we come together in joint activities; be good sports when we jointly take part in competitions; be proud not only of their own school but if every school in the partnership; and show respect for every young person and adult associated with our partnership.

Joint policies on issues like attendance are set to be drawn up and Mr Clayton said shared staff members like counsellors, learning support workers and IT technicians could be a possibly in the future.

Last night Alison Thomas, county council cabinet member for children’s services, said the authority was a strong supporter of collaboration between schools which enabled them to support each other and share expertise.

She added: “I hope this new partnership will become an exemplar of how, with our support, Norfolk schools can work together to provide an outstanding educational experience for every child in their area.”

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