A Stoke-on-Trent multi-academy trust has grown to be one of the biggest and best in the country just 18 months on from its launch.
The City Learning Trust launched in November 2014 and is already making great strides towards its mission: to create a world-class education system in the city by 2020.
Haywood Academy initially formed the trust with Holden Lane Primary School, Mill Hill Primary Academy and Smallthorne Primary School. In September, Haywood Sixth Form Academy launched as a City Learning Trust member and another four schools have joined the Trust in the form of Glebe Academy, Hillside Primary School, Priory C of E Primary School and Trentham High School.
Suzanne Oakes-Smith, Principal, Glebe Academy explained: “The aim for us, as an independent academy with a successful track record, was to find partners where through collaboration, partnership, accountability and challenge we can be part of a thriving community that fosters a culture of high aspiration for all.
“There is a clear vision for the City Learning Trust with its unwavering commitment to achieve excellence in teaching and learning; high quality professional development; developing expertise at all levels in order to secure outstanding outcomes and to ensure all members of the learning community aspire, enjoy and achieve.”
The goals of the multi-academy trust are: to give students the skills and qualifications they need to do well in a vocation or Higher Education; to develop their literacy, numeracy, resilience, resourcefulness, enterprise, technological literacy and adaptability; to take care of the most vulnerable students; to build partnerships with great schools; to work with business leaders to inspire entrepreneurship and teach employability skills; and to develop leaders and team workers who play an active role in public life.
Primary school league tables published in December revealed that all City Learning Trust primary schools saw an increase in the number of pupils achieving level four or above in reading, writing and maths.
Holden Lane Primary was well above national averages in all progress and attainment measures and topped the city’s tables with 100 per cent of Year 6 pupils gaining level four in the tests. In fact, the Sneyd-Green based primary school is one of only 187 schools in the country to achieve this level of attainment and is also in the 100 top performing schools in the country in terms of the progress pupils make between key stage 1 and the end of key stage 2.
Glebe Academy, Hillside Primary School and Smallthorne Primary School all achieved impressive increases in the number of pupils achieving level four, reaching 90 per cent, 87 per cent and 81 per cent respectively, placing them well above the regional and national averages. Glebe Academy and Hillside Primary were also above national averages in all progress and attainment measures.
Chris Crook, Headteacher, Smallthorne Primary School commented: ”As a proud member of the CLT, I continue to witness the growth of my leaders and teachers as they work collaboratively with their peers from other CLT schools.
“Within a rapidly-formed environment of trust and mutual respect, leaders and teachers offer each other support and challenge, which has significant impact on our schools. The near future looks to be exciting and inspiring as we further develop our working relationships with the Educational Improvement Team consultants through bespoke, school priority-led development programs.”
Karen Schonau, Headteacher, Hillside Primary School explained: “The peer review has allowed us to build trust between our schools. Spending time in each other’s contexts to review practice, share expertise, recommend strategies, and to challenge each other, has been invaluable.
“The teaching and learning groups have ensured we are all driving-up educational standards and outcomes for our children. Staff involved are thoroughly enjoying being part of campus groups and developing a ‘World Class Education’ system with like-minded professionals.
“Since joining the trust, our pupils have been offered lots of opportunities and experiences which have enriched and extended their learning. They are having huge amounts of fun whilst developing their skills and love for lifelong learning.
“The trust provides a framework which supports and develops staff at all levels. Non-teaching staff, middle leaders and senior leaders all have opportunities to collaborate, share and develop their practice. Recent writing moderation meetings have been a huge success, empowering staff and further strengthening links between schools.”
Priory C of E Primary School attainment is above national expectations in reading, writing and maths and continued its path of improvement, charting a 16 per cent increase in the number of pupils achieving level four over the past two years.
And Stoke-on-Trent’s most improved school is another member of the City Learning Trust family, Mill Hill Primary Academy, which saw a 29 per cent increase in the number of pupils achieving level four.
Sharon Bates, Headteacher, Mill Hill Primary Academy added: “Innovative practice through being part of The City Learning Trust has been pivotal in enabling highly effective improvements at Mill Hill. One example of how this has been implemented is through collaborative teaching programmes which have seen Haywood teachers working alongside Mill Hill teachers in Upper KS2 to dramatically accelerate attainment and progress in KS2.
“In addition, the teaching and learning, achievement and safeguarding networks initiated as part of the City Learning Trust’s vision for World Class Education have enabled colleagues from across the schools to engage in professional dialogue and sharing of highly effective CPD and practice to enable outstanding practice to be grown across the schools.”
As part of the City Learning Trust, all member schools have been able to benefit from sharing resources and teaching models with other schools within the Trust, with teachers from Haywood Academy working alongside primary school staff in English, mathematics and PE for example.