If the phrase ‘multi-academy trust’ means anything to you it is likely to conjure up an organisation which is drafted in to ‘fix’ failing schools, usually involving a unified, corporate approach to managing behaviour, curriculum, uniform, even logos and livery. This has proved successful formula in our region and must be applauded for some amazing turnarounds of secondary schools in acute difficulties. However, it is not the only model for a ‘MAT’, as Tees Valley Collaborative Trust demonstrates.
Tees Valley Collaborative Trust was established as a new multi-academy trust in 2017, with Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College as the founding entity. This in itself was highly unusual as sixth form colleges were not allowed to become academies until late in 2016. As such, we came late to the academies journey, with many secondary schools in the region either choosing to academise, or being forced to due to poor outcomes.
Our motivation was to influence school improvement across all key stages, through collaboration, leading to a stronger understanding of what is needed for each and every child to fulfil their potential with the highest aspirations.
We have achieved our ‘all-through’ ambitions through an unconventional route, much different from larger MATs. Tees Valley Collaborative Trust now comprises entities across every key stage from Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 5.
Unlike MATS where all entities are streamlined into an identical delivery model, in our MAT each entity is different one from another: a 16-19 academy with an adult community provision and expertise in supporting students with EHC plans and additional needs, a primary school, a day nursery and three separate Local Authority commissioned alternative provisions for pupils with acute anxiety and phobias.
In spite of – or because of – these differences, we have found countless ways to engage and support one another to add value to the educational experience of children and young people. Sixth formers have work experience at the nursery and primary school. The younger children take advantage of the college’s specialist facilities e.g. science labs, art studio. Adult students can utilise funded creche facilities on site. Pupils who struggled to cope in a mainstream setting are supported to transition and re-integrate with raised aspirations…the list goes on.
New settings are making enquiries about joining our Trust with its unique proposition and we are set to grow in 2021.
CEO Joanna Bailey commented: “I have great respect for the work of multi-academy trusts which succeed in turning around schools in the most challenging circumstances. Our Trust had a different starting point and has, perhaps inevitably, taken a rather different track in looking to grow and prosper. I am proud of what our Trust has achieved to date in trailblazing a different approach from many and look forward to our continuing evolution, through collaboration, in the decade to come.”