We live in interesting times. The education system is changing rapidly. Local authorities – rightly or wrongly – become ever less significant in influencing the way that schools and academies operate. Every year the number of academies grows and there is an expectation that academies will work closely with other like minded organisations in order to maximise the life chances of young people.
When I became headteacher at Rushcliffe in 2010 after 10 years leading schools in more socio-economically challenged areas I was determined to first improve it from OFSTED “Good” to “Outstanding”. There was no reason why others should be in that category whilst Rushcliffe wasn’t. In February 2014 we achieved that goal. Immediately we asked to be involved in helping our neighbour Farnborough School to improve. It had been judged as having special measures in November 13. By the end of the month Ben Chaloner had been transferred over to Farnborough from his Deputy Head role at Rushcliffe. By September he had been joined by Alison Hallam as a seconded Deputy Head and Dave Salter as Head of English.
Meanwhile at Rushcliffe well respected former Head of Maths and Deputy Head Steve Lewis had become the Headteacher. I was now the Executive Headteacher and spent my time travelling between the two schools/academies – often by bike.
In the Autumn term on 2014 we were asked by the Governors at Arnold Hill Academy on the north side of Nottingham to consider acting as a supportive partner as they has faced some trouble with OFSTED. By the middle of December a relationship had started with me spending a considerable amount of time in Arnold as the previous headteacher had departed.
Farnborough School had ceased to be. It was replaced by The Farnborough Academy and the Trent Academies Group was born. As 2015 progressed Sharon Smith was appointed as Headteacher at Arnold Hill. She took up the post in March just as the new building began to be constructed.
And on January 1st 2016 Arnold Hill formally became part of the trust known as the Trent Academies Group. We are three academies which rally around a flag that says “Everyone will be given the chance to shine brightly”. Whilst the academies have their own individual identities they are also united by shared ways of doing things and shared beliefs.
Over the last year Rushcliffe has been recognised as a World Class School, Arnold Hill has been moved out of serious weaknesses by OFSTED and The Farnborough Academy continues to improve its reputation across the west of the city.
My role has changed and is changing. I travel between the three academies to ensure we are doing everything possible to raise standards in challenging economic times and to support the Heads and their senior teams as required. I even get to talk to pupils sometimes! Rarely do I cycle between the academies now. The hill between West Bridgford and Arnold has put paid to that.
This blog will be updated on a weekly basis. I hope that others will read it and consider joining the Trent Academies Group or at least working more closely with us.
That, however, is what the Trent Academies Group is at the moment.