December 5 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Six schools are set to band together to form a new co-operative learning trust which they say will help them work together to improve education for their pupils.
Bignold, Cavell, Lakenham and Tuckswood primary schools in Norwich are planning to form a co-operative trust, with Harford Manor School and the Hewett School due to be partner schools.
The schools already cooperate through the Hewett cluster of schools, and would retain their separate identities, uniforms and governing bodies if the trust goes ahead.
Rob Anthony, chair of governors at Cavell Primary and associate headteacher at the Hewett School, said: “We will all enter into a formal legal agreement and work together for the benefit of the students of the schools. It’s a way of driving school improvement, which is what headteachers are all about.”
If the trust, which is due to come into effect in December 2, goes ahead as planned, its schools would span the whole range of Ofsted categories, from Harford Manor, an “outstanding” school for children with complex needs, to Cavell Primary, which was judged “inadequate” in May.
The Hewett School already supports the primary schools with maths, with some students attending the Cecil Road site once a week to be “stretched” by a secondary school teacher, and the schools have some common literacy and calculation policies.
Mr Anthony added: “There will be two representatives of the trust on each governing body to build the link, but on a day-to-day basis they will be separate schools with separate uniform and separate ways of working. It will just be particular things were we want to work together. You will still be able to tell the difference between Cavell and Bignold, but a lot of the ways we work will have common roots at the heart of it.”
He said the formation of the trust would also make students’ transition between primary and high school easier.
The move comes as a number of other Norfolk schools are converting to academy status following poor Ofsted reports, usually as a part of a wider local or national academy chain.
Mr Anthony said: “The main difference between the co-operative trust and an academy trust is that [the schools] sit within the family of the local authority. There’s still that connection with the local community and the democratic, accountable structures.
“There’s also a very strong under-pinning of the co-operative movement of shared values and shared work. It’s not a situation where one school is taken over. We are sharing and we all have equal shares and we are working together. It’s a subtle but important difference between the two.”