Today I reflected on the significant and positive amount of collaboration that is taking place between the 7 schools who are a part of NPAT, our Multi-Academy Trust.
The world of MATs is often viewed through a lens of a business model of education and sometimes with negative assumptions about forced takeovers, centrally dictated policies and lumpy top-slices taking money away from classroom essentials to fund central reincarnations of small local authorities. We’re lucky to belong to a trust which has an ethos that I’m very proud to be a part of. It’s about the important stuff: great teaching and learning, inclusion and collaboration with a genuine commitment to excellence in sport and the performing arts.
In just 24 short hours, I had the following 10 interactions and experiences as a result of the collaboration between the 7 NPAT schools.
- Email exchanges with Headteachers last night reviewing each others’ School Improvement Plans and giving each other some advice/critique as to how we could develop these and focus our school improvement actions.
- Some nice supportive ‘thank you’ emails to wake up to this morning from Heads in the trust for some work I’ve done around the new online assessment system we’re currently introducing to all schools. Everyone appreciates being thanked from time to time.
- A carpark conversation with my Reception staff on the way in to school this morning who were really enthused and excited by the training that was held for all Early Years teachers at Lings Primary School ahead of out trust-wide project on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which all 2700 children will take part in. This is led by the Head at Lings, Leigh Wolmarons and offers all staff and children in the trust an opportunity to benefit from their work with the Royal Shakespeare company.
- A trip for our Year 1 classes at Simon de Senlis to take part in ‘Experience Christmas’ – a great initiative run as part of the ‘Prayer Space’ project by the community at St Peter’s Church in Northampton and offered to us through Weston Favell Primary School, an outstanding church school within the trust. I was privileged to escape the office and spend an hour with the first class this morning who hasda really special time learning from church volunteers about the Christmas story in a traditional way which I fear may bypass many, on their rush through a modern and focused school curriculum.
- The loan of a minibus from Abington Vale Primary which meant, alongside ours, we could ferry the children to the church and back without the costs of a coach that can start to make these trips prohibitive. I know that minibus loans aren’t ranked highly by EEF in terms of impact on learning, but they’re a life-saver at times when you’re knee deep in the practicalities and logistics of running a Primary School.
- An opportunity for all Headteachers and Business Managers to come to my school this afternoon and be involved in second interviews for the position of COO of NPAT – a really significant and important appointment for the trust which, typically, key staff are encouraged to be a part of the decision making process.
- Simultaneous staff meetings across the trust this evening as teachers got their hands on the new assessment system; emails flying down the A45 and back between different schools with different questions and things to clarify – at one point, one of the Heads put me on speaker phone with their staff to clarify the finer points of how to record children not yet working at the expected standard.
- A chance meeting with the Strategic Director of the trust after the interviews who, in her really grounded and approachable style, camped out in my office whilst I was involved in staff meetings and caught up on her email – she even allowed me to help clear up her technical faux-pas politely as she bravely attempted to create new groups in the trust’s Office 365 system.
- An email since I’ve been posting this blog from my Year 1 teacher and English leader organising cover for reciprocal visits with Headlands Primary next Thursday so that she can see their outstanding phonics provision and, in turn, share our successful approach to handwriting which we have embedded in school over the last 4 years.
- Another email, this time from the Reception Teachers who were inspired by the Shakespeare training yesterday and want to order various Shakespearian texts for their children ahead of the project in January.
So my reflections today on the way home were about how, alongside the inevitable extra meetings, emails and discussions that are a part of the MAT, come rich opportunities for staff development, children’s curricular experiences and support for school leaders in a way that I’ve never experienced before and am grateful to be a part of.