Partnership models to serve a community

The University Schools Trust is an established partnership of schools, universities (both world leading and modern universities serving local communities) and strategically significant organisations from the charitable and statutory sectors. Gillian Kemp, the Trust Leader, writes for the Public Leaders Report 2021 about their partnership model and what it takes to make it work. 

The University Schools Trust (UST), established in 2016, has been a unique opportunity to change the educational landscape for our pupils, staff, parents and wider communities. Trustees appointed from our partners facilitate an extensive and comprehensive range of experiences and opportunities for our staff, pupils and families. Each of our partners offer their own added value to the education UST delivers. 

Together with our partners, the Trust has three key priorities that unite us. Firstly, UST pursues academic excellence and emotional well-being for all its pupils. Secondly it ensures that all our pupils, who span the spectrum from those who are well supported to those who are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society, realise their potential. Our third aim is to reduce the attainment gap significantly. 

These objectives sit within our commitment to empower communities, enhance social justice, eradicate barriers to social mobility, and so enable dynamic change in the communities we serve. 

Partners combining to look after a community

Each of our partners brings unique value and opportunities to our community. Our partnership approach to health and education improved attendance of our pupils and provided regular workshops and services for parents and staff, including advice on Covid-19 and supporting the mental health and well-being of our students. 

Our partner housing association, with community enhancement at its core, provides quality homes for many of our families, assisting our pupils to flourish.

Our university partners work in a reciprocal relationship with our schools; the schools provide Initial Teacher Training placements for students and offer research opportunities for staff. The universities provide professional development for staff, events to inspire our pupils (not least in STEM subjects), advice on applying to universities and access to a range of resources, including facilities and wider support for leaders.

Purposeful and willing collaboration with our local authorities (Tower Hamlets and the Royal Borough of Greenwich) means our schools and the Trust are proactive beyond the statutory functions. We are committed members of, and a resource to, the family of schools in our boroughs, whilst engaging in their professional development programmes and responding to their local agenda items so that outcomes for all are improved. 

We also benefit from the support and engagement of The Worshipful Company of Drapers and continue to actively seek new partners to replace previous partners from the private sector to ensure the skills and knowledge within our Trustees remains exceptional.

Working on a personal level

Our partners engage and communicate at all levels, on formal and informal bases. Partners contribute Board trustees to set and realise the strategic direction of the Trust, and governors to hold school leaders to account.

Open and personal communication with our partners at any time, not least between Board meetings, is the key to many of the opportunities afforded to our pupils, families, staff and communities. 

Together, the partners in the UST share the belief that in order for our pupils to thrive, they should have an education which is outstanding, good health and well-being, and homes in a vibrant community and a well-cared for environment.

Gillian Kemp, Trust Leader, University Schools Trust


Our Schools:

  • St Paul’s Way Trust School (SPWT) 3 – 18 all-through school in Tower Hamlets
  • Royal Greenwich Trust School (RGTS) 11 – 18 secondary school in Greenwich

Our University Partners:

  • Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) – Sponsor Partner
  • King’s College London (KCL) 
  • University College London (UCL) 
  • University of East London (UEL) 
  • University of Greenwich (UoG)
  • University of Warwick (UoW)

Our Public Sector Partners:

  • London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • NHS London
  • Poplar Harca Housing Association

Former Private Partners:

  • AXA 
  • Wates Construction

Read the full Public Leaders Report: Supporting the NHS in its hour of need · Collaborating places · Extraordinary resilience and service · What do we know about public sector leaders · Looking ahead to 2022