Civic and Community Focus
Trust, Civic and System Leadership
h others to advance education as a wider common good. We want to create the conditions for successful collaboration between and amongst trusts and other civic organisations. Finally, system leadership can be defined by our goal of working on the school system rather than just working in it or watching from afar. We want to deliberately and strategically design and build collaborative systems and structures to better enable schools and communities to thrive.
Cheshire Academies Trust believes in the power of collaboration and strives for all of its schools to be true civic partners between their locality and local communities. We have worked to build our systems using CST’s ‘Three Nested Leadership Narratives’; trust leadership, civic leadership and system leadership. The first is about Trust leadership and this is how we talk about ourselves, what we do and why we do it. Our purpose, to inspire hearts and minds builds into our four core strategies of which this document is one element. The second, civic leadership, details how we work wit
Our leaders have a deep knowledge and understanding of education. We use extremely careful approaches to ask challenging questions about our provision; why is that there? Who is it for? Does that work? It is vital we seek to better understand our provision, by assuming less and enquiring more; investigating, understanding and explaining how provision links to learning, links to progress, links to outcomes, raises standards within our unique academies. We will seek the truth behind the outcome, match this with what we see within practice to identify and share excellence across the Trust. We will equally seek trails for those areas of provision, in each academy, that do not serve our children well, repairing systems and structures with a laser like attention to detail alongside our leaders who share the same values. We have examples of excellence in all areas somewhere in the Trust; in order to secure a great education for all children it needs to cease to matter where, by who, or how, you are educated within our Trust. We care about excellence for all and test our effectiveness by a laser like focus on our disadvantaged and SEND pupils. It is through these two groups that we will judge our impact, our capability, our capacity to make a difference, beyond that which may be attributed to advantage or need. It is for this reason that we choose disadvantage and SEND over other groups, because these are our litmus test; the indication that we are moving the dial.
Our schools form an integrated spoke in a wider community wheel. They act, as CST would suggest, as an ‘anchor institution’. One which has strong ties and loyalty to its locality and geographic area. We aim to work with other civic partners and local organisations to address the complex challenges faces by their local community. Now, more than ever, with national and international crises, our schools should take up their mantle within their communities to provide support where it may be needed most.
Our leaders consider time spent working ‘on’ their schools as well as time working ‘in’ their schools to be extremely valuable particularly when considering longer term strategic improvement. Likewise, our Trust wishes to play its part to build a strong and fully academised system; one in which collaboration and open source work forms the backbone of our efforts. Any work our talented team undertake will be shared openly with others; what benefits us should be freely available to benefit the rest of the educational system. Sharing our knowledge forms a fundamental part of ethos.
Research by the University of Sussex in 2017, drawing upon data from more than 10,000 students, found positive school-family relationships are a predictor of academic achievement. This effect can be enhanced or diminished by the degree of parents’ satisfaction with the school. The researchers concluded that school policies and practices that aim to improve parent-teacher relationships could boost the academic success of pupils from all backgrounds.
We believe effectively educating the ‘whole child’ requires a collaborative effort between school staff and the child’s family. Positive parental involvement in a child’s education has a significant impact on their success at school. A pupil’s personal development, academic achievement and emotional wellbeing are all influenced by the nature of parent-teacher relationships. Every school has its unique requirements, pupil demographics and objectives; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, improving communication and ensuring that teachers feel supported and valued by school leaders and parents forms the foundation of positive relationships and one our Trust will continue to set a priority.
Local schools, networks and MATs
Our ethos of collaboration drives our determination to work with a range of local and geographically neighbouring schools, school networks and other multi academy trusts. We stand ready with open arms to expand our own networks, hubs and links to share our expertise and learn together. Effective collaboration offers the means for improving education in terms of educational development, innovation, reform, research and strategy, and the sharing of resources. It is also important for reducing inequality – both in education and the equity of resources open to our academies or those still in the maintained sector.
There are a number of commonalities within the latest research with regards to the conditions that foster effective inter-school collaboration by strong leadership; well-defined and robust structures and processes; a history of collaboration, clear communication; and a sensitivity to context amongst the most commonly recognised. All of our open and CAT only networks build on these principles.
Local government partners
We continue to deliver a strong commitment to working with all of the Local Authorities both in terms of their statutory duties with admissions and SEND, but also on a deeper level to support school improvement more widely and to continue to work collaboratively and openly with their officers.
We also believe in strong and purposeful working relationships with our Trade Union colleagues and as such will make every effort to provide open communication with them through a trade union recognition agreement.
Wider civic partners
Our Trust will continue to engage with wider partners such as NHS, police, other educational bodies (colleagues and universities), charities, cultural institutions (museums, galleries etc.) and other local businesses.
Open source working and collaboration encourages innovation through collaboration. Without it, many of the innovations, changes to pedagogy or resources we take for granted today would never have developed, or would continue to impact a minority of schools and therefore pupils. Our open source drive is principally directed to improve and set the conditions for success for our teachers and pupils. Its secondary purpose is to challenge our thinking by allowing other schools and multi academy trusts to consider our research and practice and provide feedback. We value this loop to ensure we adapt and update our practice and thinking quickly and efficiently. There are five main ideas we believe open sourcing our work will benefit our trust and more widely our other civic partners.
- Open source unleashes creativity
Collaborating with a host of partners across our Trust schools allows free thinking and innovation to occur more readily than in isolation. School staff sharing what works and why is a fundamental element to the collaborative process; without the knowledge being open source, the process of collaboration would be severely limited.
- Open source proves the power of diversity and inclusion
When our teams do not have diverse points of view, the ceiling to innovation is much lower. Without differing opinions and perspectives, new ideas are slow to catalyse and individuals settle into a comfortable status quo. We drive innovation by offering feedback without fear or favour because it is a gift to deliver continuous improvement that occurs at pace.
- Open source reveals the real value of a project
It can be difficult for individuals or schools to determine the real worth of an idea in isolation. But with open source, the response of our school community is more organic. If our teams listen to an idea or project, shrug and move on, then we can quickly realise it’s not as ground-breaking as we may have thought and therefore, our time can be better spent elsewhere. But if it gains momentum, adoption and feedback, then we can quickly realise its true impact.
- Open source allows schools to serve pupils, staff and their communities better
In addition to open source helping to enhance creativity, diversify collaboration and offer real-world validation; it allows our ideas to develop faster. Thus, our positive impact can be greater for all of our stakeholders.
- Open source challenges us to rethink work
Our schools consider collaboration as a strong source of improvement and support. Open source allows us to challenge our thinking and rethink wat works. With more collaboration and work in the public sphere, the trusts benefits as a whole as the overall quality of innovation improves. Pertinent problems are solved more quickly — things are made easier, which is, in an environment that continues to be a significant challenge, something our Trust will continue to strive