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Brief Review of Schoolsworks 7th Year

Wow, we’re nearly there - 2018-2019 is almost done and dusted!

 

As our academic year ends, the country continues to be in a kind of weird limbo awaiting the outcome of the Tory leadership contest and looming behind it is the bigger issue of what will happen to Brexit.  In this context, education policy continues to be firmly on the back burner, although the new Ofsted inspection framework has required us to do some re-thinking on preparing for inspections and on school curriculum.

 

There are still persistent problems in our education system, articulated clearly in a New Schools Network report published earlier this month.  These include: 

  • a large and persistent gap between the attainment of disadvantaged children and the rest
  • a wealth bias where most of the better performing schools are located in areas where property prices are higher
  • chronic underperformance in many schools (42% of schools inspected by Ofsted last year were judged as RI or inadequate)

So, as we look back over the year, we should ask how we in Schoolsworks - school by school and Trust-wide - have done in seeking to address these issues.  And what lies ahead of us as we move towards a new decade?

 

2018-2019 was the first academic year of the seven since the Trust was formed when we did not add another school.  This was not by choice and I have written here previously about some of the structural obstacles to academy sector growth in our area.  (I know of only two other local MATs that are growing; one is spread across 3 local authorities and the other is a diocesan MAT).

 

However, with seven schools - one effectively still in special measures - and almost 3,000 children to educate, there has still been plenty to do.  Let me bullet how I see our 5 key achievements: 

  • Successful transition to a ‘shared services model’.  The redeployment of key school business staff into our central office has provided improved financial efficiencies, better absence cover and compliance and a more consistent support for schools
  • ‘Repair phase’ completed at Downsbrook Primary School.  The school staff, leadership and governance teams and supporting Trust team have worked incredibly hard to improve the appearance, the energy and the overall quality of education at this school
  • Improving outcomes for children.  For the third year in succession, the average KS2 attainment across all our schools has improved and is almost at national average  
  • Impact of being in Schoolsworks yields positive results over time.  There is a clear gap between our overall average data and the attainment of schools that have been in Schoolsworks for 3 years or more - taken together these schools are comfortably above national averages
  • Learning from other MATs.  The heads and Trust leadership made an inspiring visit to a high-performing academy trust in Hull and we brought back many ideas that I believe will have a long-lasting influence on us

 

We will undertake our annual planning exercise early next term as a Board of Directors, but here are some of my goals for us for next year:

  • Continued improvements in teaching and learning.  Teaching is a demanding but rewarding job - we want to see all our teachers supported to be consistently good with high expectations of themselves and their children
  • Improving outcomes for children.  I won’t be happy until all our schools are delivering outcomes for children that are consistently above national averages and all schools are judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or better - I don’t believe there are barriers in any of our schools that are sufficiently insurmountable to excuse less
  • Reflecting our values.  Having stressed the importance of our academic performance we have always said that we are not just about the maths and English data - we also want children to develop socially and emotionally, in art, sport and other non-core subjects, and above all to develop a lifelong love of learning
  • Growth.  I believe we are ready to add one or two more schools to the Trust this year - it will be a significant part of my role to seek to achieve this and thereby add to our capacity and reproduce our successes elsewhere
  • Enjoyment!   One of my life quotes is by Bob Basso, ‘if it's not fun, you’re not doing it right’. Work is never going to be a bed of roses every day, but I wish all who study, work or volunteer in our schools great happiness and satisfaction in every area 

 

And for those of you reading this that work with us in schools, may the fun start for you over your summer break - and thanks so much to you for all you do.

 

Chris Seaton

July 2019