There are 26 primary schools in Greenwood Academies Trust. These include an all through (3-19) academy, 3 infant academies and 5 junior academies.
Our ‘Improvement and Support Strategy’ is made up of 3 key elements.
- Building capacity and expertise in leaders and practitioners – through assurance boards, Learning Alliance opportunities, networks and professional learning.
- Ensuring effective and accurate academy-level bespoke Improvement Plans – that are clear about improvement priorities and key tasks and activities to bring about improvement.
- Ensuring high quality, effective trust-level quality assurance processes – to provide information to trustees and valuable feedback to academies.
1. Building capacity and expertise
At the heart of our improvement strategy are our Assurance Boards – for Standards, Learning and the Curriculum. These are chaired by Education Directors and the membership is drawn from identified senior leaders from academies. Each group is there to develop expertise and capacity in the Trust in each of the key focus areas. They work collaboratively, and with relevant experts, to develop best practice and engage in national debate.
Curriculum Assurance Board (CAB)
The primary CAB comprises a representative from each primary academy. It aims to ensure that the curriculum offered in all academies is inclusive and of a high quality. It is the forum that considers trust level curriculum projects and partners and oversees our Primary Subject and Specialist Networks.
Learning Assurance Board (LAB)
The primary LAB has a membership made up of one identified outstanding practitioner from each academy. It aims to improve the quality of learning in all academies by developing trust level principles of high quality and inclusive teaching and overseeing the GAT professional development offer.
Raising Attainment Board (RAB)
The primary RAB is comprised of Raising Standards Leads from each academy. It aims to raise standards in all academies, focusing on end of key stage outcomes. Its work is closely linked to the GAT Primary Assessment Protocol which all GAT primary academies follow. The RAB develops and analyses information and data at key points through the year and benefits from professional learning around the identified areas for development.
We passionately believe in the importance of developing highly effective practice in the Early Years. We know that it is the crucial start of school life, and a time when both children and their parents form opinions about lifelong learning and education. Our Early Years support ensures that Early Years practitioners are supported to continually develop their practice and academy leaders retain appropriate oversight of this important stage of education.
A high proportion of children in our academies live in contexts that mean educational progress is more challenging for them than it is for many others. In order to support all our pupils to maximise the opportunities we provide for them, practitioners and leaders in our schools need to be exceptional. Our Disadvantaged work supports academies to ensure leaders are aware of best practice and continually improve in this area. We also support key leaders to become nationally accredited Pupil Premium Reviewers and ensure all academies will have a Pupil Premium Review within a 3 to 4 year cycle in addition to those where Ofsted requests a Pupil Premium Review.
PE and sport
We also believe each academy’s Physical Education, school sport and physical activity provision is highly important. Our academies contribute a small amount from their PE and Sport Premium funding to access:
- professional development and training for PE coordinators
- bespoke academy-level support
- resources, advice and guidance
- memberships and subscriptions to key national organisations and programmes
- an annual calendar of cross-Trust sporting opportunities.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
We have a considerable programme of support to improve practice and provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. This offer includes advice, guidance and resources plus a calendar of networking, professional development and training for all practitioners, leaders and SENDCos relating to SEND practice and provision. Additional projects in this area are continually developed with national experts and provide a platform for further shared learning and improved practice.
Primary subject and specialist networks
There are a number of networks that colleagues in primary academies can be part of. Each network is facilitated and has an on-line space on Microsoft Teams. They differ in the format of meetings and when they ‘meet’ together. All networks are there to support colleagues share resources and ideas, develop best practice and create collaborative projects, working with external experts where appropriate.
Primary subject networks focus on subject specific pedagogy, curriculum and leadership. They currently include Science, History, Art & Design, Physical Education and Design & Technology. These will be added to as practitioners request further subjects.
Primary specialist networks include Primary SENDCOs, Pupil Premium leads, Careers & employability leads, Off-Site Visit Coordinators and Outdoor Learning.
Professional learning and development
GAT’s Professional Learning Programme is an extensive, agile programme of CPD, courses, resources and training for a range of roles in academies. It comprises face-to-face learning, online sessions and asynchronous content facilitated by a range of internal and external experts. Projects and professional learning are developed each year dependent on need, often in collaboration with national experts. The programme does not intend to cover all the CPD needs of every individual and academy, it focuses on trust level improvement priorities; we think it is important that colleagues use local, regional and national external programmes where appropriate.
Leadership development opportunities run throughout the year through with additional termly events specifically designated for Principals including Principals Briefings’ and an annual Principals’ conference. In addition, we arrange opportunities for leaders to visit GAT and non-GAT academies throughout the year to showcase good practice and support further Principal-level networking.
2. Ensuring effective and sustainable academy-level improvement
The most important part of our Improvement Strategy is ensuring each academy can effectively self-evaluate and develop personalised, aspirational Improvement Plans that bring about rapid improvement where necessary and foster a culture of continual development.
The role of the Education Director
All academies have an allocated Education Director (ED). They provide professional challenge and support to an academy, helping its leadership to effectively evaluate its performance, identify priorities for improvement and plan effective change. The ED takes the academy through the Improvement and Assurance work, ensuring all meetings, reviews etc are completed and internal monitoring processes are adhered to.
Key principles of the GAT Primary Improvement Strategy
The Primary Improvement Strategy is founded on a number of principles:
- the prime responsibility for academy improvement remains with the Principal
- academies are encouraged to have an unique vision, aligned to GAT values and relevant to local context
- a key aim is to support academies to develop effective procedures for accurate self-evaluation and improvement planning, and the ability to identify and commission additional support effectively for themselves
- the expectations of contribution and involvement in assurance and other GAT activities are clearly identified in the Primary Improvement and Support Framework
- trust-level assurance is there to provide additional validation and information to academy-level monitoring and evaluation, not to replace it
- capacity and expertise for system led improvement will be supported and developed
- academy leaders are expected to be aware of discussions at Assurance Boards and GAT networks and be continually evolving their strategies and processes in line with agreed actions and shared best practice
- the professional partnership and communication between the Principal and EDs is critical but academies will benefit from the expertise of the whole primary team
- the amount of support provided to academies depends on their needs, as identified through a risk monitoring process
- processes are designed to be positive, focusing on strengths as well as identifying areas for development
- formal delegated responsibilities (Eg for budget) are described in GAT schemes of delegation but if concerns are identified, delegated responsibilities can be removed and given to EDs.
Academy RAG ratings
Each academy has an overall ‘RAG’ rating (Red, Amber, Green) to help us allocate the appropriate level of internal support and challenge in order to secure improvement. The overall RAG is underpinned by a number of identified ‘Risk Indicators’ that are clearly described in the Primary Framework.
3. Trust level quality assurance processes
Quality Assurance activities will provide academies with information to improve their self-evaluation and improvement planning. They also feed into GAT oversight and governance procedures including to strategic leaders and trustees, via the Standards and Curriculum Committee.
Primary academies work with their ED on an annual review cycle. The process has been designed to dovetail with a standard academy-level review cycle to add value and independent validation. The associated paperwork has been created to support leaders focus on key improvement priorities and to minimise workload.
At the start of the year a detailed meeting takes place that confirms Academy Improvement Priorities and how these are going to be monitored and supported. An evaluation of the progress of these priorities takes place each large term. In addition, a series of Reviews are conducted that allow more detailed investigation into key themes and some standard compliance checks on statutory expectations are made.