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St Leonard's Parent Questions

St Leonard’s Parent Questions:

Will there be any opportunity for a group of parents from the school to visit one or more of the schools in the St Christopher’s MAT?

Yes this can be arranged. We have openly advocated that our schools can be contacted and visited.

 

What reassurances are there, regardless of the decision made, that the staff will be offered continuing employment with the school? Parents will not want to see a large number of staff leave again, and I think this is needed to ensure there is no pressure on staff to relocate to another school within the MAT, nor leave the MAT?

If the transfer is approved, all staff will be TUPE’d to St Christopher’s and their continued service will be recognised as part of that process. We recognise that for the benefit of the pupils and staff continuity in all areas of school life are of paramount importance.

 

What provision will be made for Mr Page, should he wish to stay in post, regardless of the final decisions. (I appreciate, of course, he may not want to stay).

Mr Page would be TUPE’d together with all staff should the transfer be agreed. Post TUPE, I believe it would then be for the local governing body alongside the Trust directors/CEO to run an HR process to formalise Mr Page’s role as Headteacher or to run a wider recruitment process, whichever is more appropriate to the needs of the school. Unless there was a clear rationale for doing otherwise, we would be advising making the temporary appointment a permanent one, but with the opportunity for him to share with the directors and the local governing body, his impact to date and his aspirations for the future of St Leonard’s.

 

Finally, a difficult question to answer I appreciate. I do not have a sense of how staying or moving from one Trust to another will benefit the children of the school. Please try and formulate a clear idea of why the school should move to St Christopher’s MAT ie what benefits will this bring to the children and their learning.

St Christopher’s Trust has a very strong pedagogical and collaborative focus to its school improvement. I have tried to categorise the answer in Ofsted terms as I think it makes for better reading:

Outcomes

Our view is that each school’s leadership team be equipped to reflect honestly on the performance of their school and work with their colleagues to overcome issues and develop practice. We believe that pupil attainment as measured by tests is merely a by- product of an engaging, high quality provision. Our outcomes are on a rising trajectory and each school community is aware of where it’s particular needs lie and are not only looking to improve the data but also thinking more creatively of individual needs within each group of pupils. The principle of this being that the detail is as important as the top line.

 

Quality of Teaching and learning

We equip schools to know their data well and to use it alongside their individual philosophies and approaches to learning. These are shared via networks and great ideas are being passed around, some of these ideas gather pace and become recommended more widely. Professional dialogue means that innovation is encouraged as it can grow from a small pocket and be shared. By taking a ‘pilot project’ approach it is accepted that great ideas aren’t always going to be successful but practitioners that thrive on research and creativity are nurtured. This style of professional development does not suit all schools/teachers and some are better having the opportunity to see new practice in action and adapt it to their setting.

If teachers remain curious and develop their practice, within a well-considered operational framework then the impact will be a highly energised body of practitioners who engender the same love of learning and curiosity in their pupils.

 

Personal Development, behaviour and welfare

By having an honest, open and reflective culture we can mirror to pupils a healthy, emotional state. If we get it right between adults then we pass that on to our pupils. There have been several examples recently where highly stressful situations could have resulted in staff absence or resignations. Staff have appreciated honest conversations, sometimes apologies and the sense that vulnerability – not being able to do everything well and admitting it, is a strength. These actions modelled by senior leaders in the Trust enable the same courtesies to be passed to staff and pupils in our schools.

Keeping schools as responsible for their own behaviour policies and practice ensures best fit to the needs of that community.

Leadership and Management (includes governance)

The model of leadership is non-hierarchical and works to identify and maximise individual gifts and talents enabling all staff to work to the best of their abilities, in line with our vision for ‘life in all its fullness.’ We are working with our schools to spot talent and balance the individual, the school and the wider Trust’s needs. Applying a solution focussed approach we are starting to see creative options to developing our capacity that would be missed were we relying on senior leaders making decisions in isolation.

We are developing a toolkit for school improvement that can flex according to the capacity of the senior leadership in the individual school. Our local governing bodies know their schools well and remind us that our schools are more than just data, they are communities. School leaders place importance on being able to present and share with governors. Having the opportunity to present and be challenged in a constructive way builds confidence and provides a check in to staying on track with strategic matters. Local governing bodies also provide a check and balance to the Board of Directors ensuring that pupils and the needs of each local community remains at the heart of their decision making.

 

Overall Effectiveness

In the last twelve months we are a Trust that has made rapid improvement. This has been recognised by our external judges at the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Office, along with at a local governing board level. We are a Trust with a great future, passionate about learning and enabling not only our pupils, but also our staff to flourish.

Finally, here are two quotes from an administrator and a governor in one of our schools which I think further illustrate how some people feel about the Trust and the difference it is making to the pupils in our schools:

 

“By being honest and upfront with people whilst focusing on your dedication to pupils they can see your integrity and uncompromising commitment to education for all. This becomes infectious and brings people ‘on board’ which is ultimately where they want to be anyway, they just don’t always know it. Who doesn’t secretly want to change the world? This gives even us administrators the opportunity to be part of that. Thank you.”

 

“Our two hour meeting was remarkable for the absence of two negative factors that had featured in my previous two years' experience in this role. Firstly there was no sense of confrontation, even while areas of weakness were being probed, and therefore no sense of a prosecutor - defendant role that characterised my experience before our school joined the MAT. Secondly, there was no feeling that the exercise was a 'task' to be done with a subsequent report to write, though obviously that will be one necessary outcome of the process. The word 'Ofsted' was mentioned only once, and its shadow did not hover over the dialogue at all. At the risk of sounding trite, the good of the children was the driving force behind the whole exercise. The HTPM was seen as a vital link in the chain from pupil assessment to improved pupil outcomes, which is an obvious point when you come to think about it, but one which was not apparent to me during my two previous HTPM experiences.”

 

From checking the information about the St Christopher’s MAT on their website, I understand that all schools in trust are either faith or VA schools. St. Leonards Primary school is VC school. My question is: if SLPS comes under St Christopher’s remit, will there be a change of school’s status? If yes, what will that be? Who is entitled to make such a decision?

There are 15 schools in the St Christopher’s Trust; 13 church schools and 2 community schools.

VA and VC status only apply to maintained schools. When a school converts to an academy, legally this status falls away. However, St Christopher’s takes the status before conversion into account when looking at the constitution of the schools Local Governing Body. Also, SIAMS inspections are performed under the structure of the status before conversion.

 

Again, from checking the information on internet, I understand that all schools in St Christopher’s MAT have a different admission criteria for oversubscription that are currently in SLPS (standard LA oversubscription criteria). If SLPS comes under St Christopher’s remit, will there be a change of admission criteria for oversubscription? If yes, what will they be? (can you please be specific to this question?)

The MAT becomes the Admissions Authority for the academy. This means that the admission criteria can be altered (provided they are in accordance with the School Admissions Code). Each year Devon County Council produces individual admissions policies for our schools that are then agreed with the LGB of the school. The oversubscription criteria differ from school to school.

 

For church schools it is possible to include some priority for church attenders. However, the MAT does not have a hard and fast policy on this and will not propose any change without consultation with the LGB.

 

 

 

 

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love that you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10

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