Recently I attended the Diamond Model Conference hosted by Stamford Endowed Schools at Burghley House in Cambridgeshire. This was the third Diamond Schools’ conference, following an event earlier this year at Berkhamsted School and our inaugural conference here, at Ipswich High School in the previous academic year. It is exciting that the momentum has been maintained and that senior staff from Diamond Model Schools are keen to share their ideas and good practices.

Providing Equal Provision via the Model

This conference was particularly interesting as it focused on ISI inspection with a panel of three; an experienced lawyer, the chief ISI inspector and the independent school representative at the DfE, presenting and answering questions on how Diamond Model schools needed to evidence equal provision and opportunities offered to both boys and girls. This has been highly topical given the recent ruling of unlawful discrimination within an Islamic School.

At Ipswich High School we have been mindful of this ruling, and we are confident that our Diamond ‘Edge’ Model enables boys and girls to have equal entitlements to facilities, teaching and access to excellent learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

The Opportunities

The second part of the day focused on the marketing opportunities of the Diamond Model ‘brand chaired by the Director of Development and External Relations at Stamford Endowed Schools. I particularly enjoyed this section as we were able to discuss with our counterparts from other Diamond Model schools the key marketing points that we wanted to promote. Personally, I am passionate about the academic merits of separate teaching of girls and boys for certain subjects, especially as I have seen the benefits of this first hand as a science teacher. The general consensus of the group was that there were other, just as important benefits to the Diamond approach including social development. Our discussion then progressed onto how influential we wanted our ‘message’ to be on a continuum from ‘we want to be understood’ (in the context of the Diamond Model) to ‘wanting world domination!’ The consensus was the former and then our time ran out before we could discuss whether we wanted a universal kite mark to represent our Diamond Model network of schools. I hope this does eventually happen as I think it will make it clearer to parents, school associations and affiliates that we are working together.

An Inspirational Speaker

After a lovely lunch in the setting of Burghley House, the final event was a speaker called James Shone who is the founder of ‘I can and I am’. I don’t want to reveal the nature of his session as I am hoping we can get James to come into Ipswich High School. I can, however, say that I felt truly inspired after his talk; it focused on the pastoral care of pupils, which should be at the forefront of all schools, whether they are Diamond or not. I did notice there was not a dry eye in the room and I came away from the day feeling refocused on celebrating the strengths of pupils. This seems very timely given that pupils will be having their report readings for this term shortly, and whilst it important to focus on subjects that need improvement, it is important not to lose sight of the many successes that pupils have achieved. We will also, of course, celebrate our pupils’ abundant successes at our prize giving, Berners’ Day.

To conclude, I am heartened that the Diamond Model network is continuing to grow in strength and unity. I truly believe that such a model is the ‘best of both worlds’, helping boys and girls to thrive academically and develop socially. I am excited that the next Diamond Model School Conference has already been announced for next Easter at Forest School in London.

By Nicola Griffiths, Deputy Head
5 July 2019