Bids to share in the Partnership Programme for Independent and State Schools were eight times greater than the budget can support. The Programme provides for children from state and independent schools to take part in a range of initiatives to raise education standards and build lasting links between their schools. Partnerships help youngsters to develop new skills that may not emerge from working alone. Staff also benefit from sharing experience and best practices. Projects typically provide for sixth form exchanges, joint outdoor education weekends, developing more able pupils and improving computer skills.
The budget for 1999/2000 of one million pounds has been supplemented by a further 400,000 pounds from the DfEE and by 200,000 pounds from The Sutton Trust. The funds have been allocated to 56 projects involving some 200 schools and 19,000 children. Last year there were 47 projects involving 11,000 children. The funding is essentially pump priming for one or two year projects. One of the criteria for funding bids is that they must show how the projects can continue when funding ceases.