Andrew Brodie is currently Chair of the Trust Board. His initial experiences of the Trust was as Chair of the Old Stratford Primary School Governing Board as they explored options for the school back in 2018. In the article below he shares the thinking that informed the Governing Board's decision to become a part of the Grand Union Partnership.
Old Stratford joined the Trust in 2018, having started a closer working relationship 2 years previously with the CEO of the Trust, Phil Webster. At that time in 2016, the school was in a difficult position, following the retirement of a long standing headteacher in 2015, a requires improvement judgement from Ofsted in early 2016 and the new headteacher leaving at the end of the summer term.
Our initial challenge in these circumstances was to resolve the leadership question. Fortunately, Phil was a governor on the board and as Chair I was able to arrange to share his time as Head teacher during 2016/17. This brought a level of stability and improvement immediately, enabling us to recruit a Head of School for 2017 who initially reported into Phil as Executive Head to allow a smooth transition. Early in 2018 Ofsted judged the school to be good, it was at this stage that Old Stratford joined the Grand Union Partnership in summer 2018 as the third school in the Trust.
For Old Stratford the reasons for us joining the Trust were clear and had been demonstrated during the previous two years, these included:
- giving the school access to expertise that enabled us to improve standards of education. This was achieved through being able to tap into the learning of an outstanding school and the Trust leadership structure;
- providing opportunities for our teachers to benefit from working with a wider range of colleagues across the Trust on a variety of curriculum projects
- enabling our new Head teacher to access a support and mentoring structure that aided their development;
- offering the school access to a wider range of subject knowledge, specialist skills and school resources and facilities which would simply be beyond the reach of a single form primary school operating alone;
- allowing us to gain these benefits at a lower cost, not only through the benefits of sharing resources and facilities, but also the economies of scale which the Trust brought.
However, what really sold the Grand Union Partnership to Old Stratford went beyond this. It was the culture, ethos and values of the Trust. The chance to join a local community Trust of like-minded Primary schools all in close proximity; the freedom to keep our own individual village school identity but to still be part of a partnership with all the benefits that brings to education standards, teacher development and access to facilities; above all the opportunity to join a Trust early in its development and to be part of shaping it's exciting future journey as part of the Trust Leadership, an opportunity that is there for prospective schools looking to join the Trust now.
Joining the Trust was a big step for Old Stratford, but it was the right step and I believe would offer similar advantages to other local schools considering Trust membership.