THE STOUR FEDERATION MULTI ACADEMY TRUST
LEARN, GROW, SUCCEED TOGETHER
VISION AND MISSION
A vision has to be compelling. Compel comes from the Latin ‘compellere’ - ‘to drive together.’ We have a coherent approach which aligns our vision with our mission, our school improvement strategy and operating model.
Working together we are stronger. Through partnership and collaboration, our mission is to develop our group of inspirational schools which instil ambition and desire in learners, open their minds, widen their horizons and equip them to succeed in a challenging world. Through coherent strategies and high quality leadership at all levels, we look to balance holding schools to account with helping them to improve - transforming outcomes for children at scale. Our School Trust brings clear, tangible and inspiring benefits to children, families and staff.
The Stour Federation believes that to be a high-performing multi academy trust we must focus on aligning schools around a common model of school improvement; schools that are the most harmonious are the highest performing, whilst respecting earned autonomy - a powerful caveat for individual schools to be able to innovate and showcase specific strengths or areas of interest providing the centralised alignment is harmonious and having the desired impact. School leaders in The Stour Federation possess and consistently demonstrate the four energies of leadership - intellectual (IQ), emotional (EQ) spiritual (SQ) and physical energy (PQ).
TRUST CORE VALUES
Our values underpin system leadership and the capacity to collaborate with others leads to a long-lasting driver for improvement - partnership only works when both sides are adding capacity and receiving support as the foundation of the relationship.
The Trust is fully committed to developing an ethical, values-driven culture that will underpin all that we do to support our schools in the pursuit of excellence. Education is as much about developing people’s character, strengths and virtues (affective domain) as it is about developing their academic knowledge and skills (cognitive domain).
Staff follow the Fish Philosophy in their approach to all aspects of school life - Play. Make their day. Choose your attitude. Be there
We consider that a locally-led and accountable Trust provides the best outcomes for learners and our communities, supporting schools with challenges and ensuring the best schools become even better.
As a partnership of schools we are better able to support our children; we strongly believe in the power of collaboration and we continually work together to find innovative ways of working. It’s the relationships that we forge with people and those connections that make the biggest difference.
Our aspirations are first and foremost to support and continually improve our schools. We will consider informal, associate arrangement for schools that meet our aims, would gain from such an arrangement and support other forms of provision where there are clear benefits in place.
We are convinced of the importance in and value of local schools working closely together and have designed our Trust to do just that. Our School Trust acts as an anchor institution by making a strategic contribution to the greater social good, having strong ties in the geographical area.
Our vision is to work as a community of local primary academies that are hubs of excellence and expertise, offering a world class global education, fit for purpose and where pupils are safe and engaged in their learning. Aspirations and high expectations are paramount to the growth and success of the academies within the Trust.
At the heart of the Trust is a culture of collaboration where schools across the organisation can access the support that they need to set themselves up for successes within an established system, which in turn is responsive to the needs and performance of each academy.
Some of the ways our schools work together are:
We demand the highest standards from our staff and children. Our ethos is based on relationships. We build relationships on each and every level based on integrity and honesty which are the backbone of our Trust. When any of these fail then we are quick to take action and rectify the situation.
Our vision is to grow the Trust in the next five years plus a Specialist Resourced Provision for children in our consortium. Within five years up to five local primary schools will join the Trust. We are very clear that any growth needs to be carefully planned to ensure our systems and processes are well embedded and there is sufficient capacity within the Trust to support all our schools. While we will consider schools from beyond our immediate locality, our priority is to build a strong, local Trust in the first instance. Any consideration of schools joining the Trust will be carefully managed with appropriate, feasible timescales and robust due diligence processes.
In addition to growing the MAT there is still opportunity for growth within the four schools in The Stour Federation.
We provide a curriculum that enables children to gain curiosity, ambition and a willingness to practise so that they gain the knowledge, skills and understanding to help them be socially active citizens. It emphasises the central importance of proficient reading, writing and maths skills as the basis of a good education and future personal and social contribution to society.
The Cornerstones Education Engage, Develop, Innovate, Express process gives a framework for teaching knowledge and skills-rich subjects deeply in a topic approach.
We have aligned approaches across the Trust for the teaching of reading, writing and maths to equip children with a strong command of the basics and the confidence, ambition and teamwork skills to succeed.
We are committed to ensuring all of the talents and skills children have are developed to the full.
We will deliver high quality social, moral, spiritual and cultural education (SMSC) that enables our children to know themselves, relate to others from a range of backgrounds and cultures, keep themselves healthy and safe and contribute as fully as they can to wider society.
We are committed to a bucket list of experiences that each child will experience during their time in a school in the Trust.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Schools in the Stour Federation follow a key text approach for their topic work, PSHE social and emotional learning, our No Outsiders lessons on equality and for developing a love of books and pleasure. These core texts underpin the learning across the curriculum, often developing both the substantive and disciplinary knowledge within a global theme.
The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a set of goals and targets aimed at making the world a better place. We are embedding a more global ethos into our curriculum to deepen children’s understanding of these local and global issues so they acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
In The Stour Federation we aim to produce the kinds of citizens who are equipped to take on the challenges of the rest of the 21st century, improving humankind as they learn. Combining learning and humanity is deep learning at its best. The four elements: Pedagogical Practices, Learning Partnerships, Leveraging Digital and Learning Environments are considered and integrated where possible during the planning stage to design sequences of lessons to amplify learning.
The provision of the highest quality teaching is of paramount importance. Children experience a wide range of motivating and challenging, well-pitched learning opportunities. Teacher expertise identifies barriers to learning and plans approaches to overcome these. There is a belief that all pupils can succeed whatever their individual circumstance. Our Rosenshine model for teaching and learning through direct instruction (focusing on both disciplinary knowledge and substantive knowledge) provides a clear framework for practice across the Trust and our WalkThrus instructional coaching programme provides essential teaching techniques.
Our innovative and pioneering teaching and learning approaches, rooted in research, ensures a sustained improvement in learner attainment and progress. Our Core Leaders School Improvement Team, Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE), Evidence Leaders of Education (ELE) and Local Authority Moderators work across our Trust schools, supporting all of our teachers.
Our teachers make best use of the latest teaching and learning technologies. Professional development is provided face to face and remotely.
A Writing Process, Reading Process and Maths Process have been developed with staff using evidence from research (e.g. Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction) and sharing practice that has been most effective in our schools. A central bank of high quality teaching resources selected by teachers helps the alignment immensely. Teachers have welcomed this approach but have also been trusted to make sure that the sequence of lessons is taught within the framework but in the best way for their class - earned autonomy. This way of working supports staff workload, effectiveness of the Core Leaders School Improvement Team and the central Leadership Team strategically for future school improvement planning/innovation and operationally for understanding outcomes.
Teachers also look to instil and develop in our children six global competencies that describe the skills and attributes needed for learners to flourish as citizens of the world: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Relationships are the active ingredient in so much of the realisation of the 6Cs and learning in our curriculum.
Working in partnership, sharing practice and showcasing outstanding teaching and learning helps us raise our expectations and continually look for ways we can improve.
OUTCOMES FOR PUPILS
All of our children have a fully rounded, enriched education. We strive for attainment and progress outcomes for children to be consistently significantly above national averages in all of the academies in the Trust. We recalibrated our focus for school improvement so that our children’s futures are determined less by what is tested and more by what we intrinsically value for the long-term benefit of our communities by focusing on the affective domain (focusing on awareness of the world, motivation and willingness to learn, beliefs and attitudes, organisation and characterisation) in addition to the cognitive domain (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation).
Our focus on behaviour for learning through Thrive, Chimp Management and other research-led approaches focus on teaching children to become confident independent learners who can self-regulate and show metacognition.
All children are educated in a safe environment where their well being and personal development are of the highest regard and safeguarding is effective.
There is solid evidence that ‘collective efficacy’ (the group willingness to translate thoughts and feelings into meaningful actions in order to make a difference) has a positive impact on pupil achievement.
Children are taught to be well-mannered and courteous. They respect diversity and they are prepared to support each other.
Positive, supportive relationships between staff and children are at the heart of our schools. At all times we seek to promote excellent behaviour underpinned by honesty, integrity and our RESPECT code. Children are supported and encouraged to develop the behaviours that will enable them to thrive in lessons and in the many curriculum enrichment opportunities on offer. School adults role model these behaviours.
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
“Our vision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities is the same as for all children and young people - that they achieve well in their early years at school and in college, and lead happy and fulfilled lives.”
SEN Code of Practice (January 2015)
The aim for alignment across our settings is to provide the very best provision and practice for those children with special educational needs to ensure they receive the very best education to reach their full potential. All staff work in collaboration and all teachers are teachers of SEN.
The SENCO works in all settings and is responsible for overseeing the provision for SEND children and managing the staff, helping them to deliver high quality teaching to ensure best practice for all. The SENCo is an experienced teacher in both mainstream schools and Specialist provision schools with a wide knowledge and experience, and holding the SENCO Award.
There is a significant need across our consortium to research and pilot a better provision for children with special educational needs, in particular those just about to start school or who are currently in Reception and Key Stage 1 with Autistic Spectrum Condition and/or social, emotional or mental health issues. The Trust will look to work with the Local Authority to plan and secure the Children’s Centre building on Shipston’s site to be transformed into a Specialist Resourced Provision for the benefit of all 15 schools in our consortium, becoming a beacon of excellence for special needs provision and outreach.
There is significant experience and expertise across the Trust. Our SENCO is not class-based and works across the Trust. Our Pastoral Manager is not class-based. She is the senior Designated Safeguarding Lead, Thrive Practitioner and leads Early Help. We have strong relationships with independent external experts.
Our staff enjoy working across the Trust; they are happy, positive and motivated. Recruitment is of significant quality and retention is high. Feedback and Assessment policies along with centralised approaches to data and assessment ensure that workload can be managed efficiently. Support for staff well being is provided. Highly effective and inclusive communication will ensure that staff have a clear understanding of their role.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND SUCCESSION
We are committed to growing and investing in the leaders of tomorrow in our schools and providing the mechanism for staff to work creatively and innovatively. Our leaders are future-focused, deliberately developing cultures of innovation through agency and experimentation.
Recruitment and retention of staff is critical in rural locations and we work hard to ensure our Trust is seen as a high-performing employer known for identifying and developing potential leaders. We work closely with The Gateway Alliance for Initial Teacher Training and growing our own teachers.
The Trust’s sustained improvement strategy is built around a pool of talented teachers and leaders alongside a culture of co-creation, continual improvement and innovation. The Stour Federation believes that all schools in the MAT need to be aligned around a common approach to school improvement, including curriculum, assessment and staff development, plus centralisation of information management systems, finance and the use of information and back office services.
The Trust plays a key role in wider system leadership through the Executive Headteacher’s directorship of Gateway Alliance, supporting other schools through Warwickshire LA, leading and participating in local partnerships and sharing expertise widely. Our organisation has capacity and strength to support new schools joining the MAT or schools beyond the Trust. There are SLEs, LLEs, ELEs, moderators and Curriculum Leads who support across and beyond the Trust, who can articulate their school improvement repertoire. It means the best teachers can have the biggest impact on more children than they could ever teach in one school and unleash potential across many schools.
The Trust learns from and contributes to the practice of other MATs in the region and further afield. A mindset for creativity and innovation, including disruptive thinking, is an essential ingredient in helping our School Trust generate increased value and improved levels of performance. We accept the opportunity to act as a leader in our sphere of influence, behaving as an inspiration to others and demonstrating what can be achieved for the benefit of other schools as well as our own.
We use the RADAR acronym (based on the EFQM Excellence Model) to help diagnose the Trust’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement.
Our culture of continuous improvement drives the bespoke packages of support for each school at the stage of improvement they have reached so far.
The Trust achieves consistent communication and builds a shared identity by bringing staff from all the schools for trust-wide activities. When not together, the schools can communicate effectively, share resources and access online systems through the innovative Google Workspace, which the Trust piloted for Warwickshire Local Authority. We provide high quality remote learning and communication with parents though our Seesaw and SchoolPing digital platforms.
The Trust already has significant partnerships in place with Gateway Alliance, a not-for-profit schools company where the Executive Headteacher is an unpaid Director and the Shipston Head of School sits on the School Direct Core Group. Leaders work closely with Cornerstones Education in developing curriculum design and innovation, including recording a podcast. We worked with South West Grid for Learning and Warwickshire ICTDS to become the first schools in the country to achieve the 360 Degree Safe 2.0 Online Safety accreditation via remote assessment, during Covid-19 lockdown. We have a strong partnership with The Fosse Way Consortium, where links are becoming formalised in terms of subject leader training, moderation and, in future, specialist resourced provision for children with special educational needs. Leaders co-ordinate sports fixtures for the local area.
Several leaders are governors at other schools, the SENCO sits on the LA SEND panel and the Early Years Intervention Co-ordinator sits on the Transition Funding panel. The Shipston Early Years Leader is LA moderator.
We continue to develop these and new partnerships to ensure we are an outward facing organisation with an outstanding network locally, regionally and nationally.
We focus on research and evidence-led school improvement strategies. In the next two years we aim to become a Research School or Associate Research school.
COMMUNITY AND CULTURE
We are committed to ensuring our family of schools are the first choice for families in their area. More children than ever before have enrolled into our schools; parents feel proud of their children as they progress and develop in our schools and regularly recommend us to others.
We support parents and carers in understanding their role in supporting their child to be positive about their learning, working hard to develop positive, caring relationships with all of our parents.
We believe that our schools and the Trust have a critical role to play in our communities. We have established some (and are developing further) ways for staff and children to work together across the Trust, e.g. peer mediators, sports fixtures, trips and residential visits, music, Curriculum Teams, Google Drive.
We have secured effective partnerships with local businesses and organisations, such as sports teams, Shipston Rotary and Sheldon Bosley Knight (who have sponsored our Books of the Month initiative for the Trust for the past 3 years), whilst sourcing additional funding streams for ambitious projects.
We celebrate the uniqueness of each individual school but also utilise the wider school community to enrich learning experiences, e.g. cross cultural, curricular and whole Trust initiatives, e.g. Science Week, Book Weeks and Author Visits, Anti-Bullying Weeks, Online Safety Weeks, visiting clergy.
We lead the organisation of events across our consortium to ensure that children participate and engage in whole school initiatives in individual academies as well as within the Trust, e.g. School Council meetings, child-led initiatives, sports fixtures, Shakespeare 4 Schools, Young Voices.
The Board has a clear plan for delegated authority and regularly checks that it is fit for purpose. Local Academies are effective at quality assuring standards and the Executive Head (CEO), Heads of School and Core Leaders School Improvement Team are subject to the same scrutiny.
The Trust is successful as a result of each school’s performance and the schools are good because of the Trust. There is top down and bottom up accountability.
There is a clear scheme of delegation which sets out the separation of responsibilities between the central trust and the local governing bodies. There is a clear path of accountability that enables discussions to take place from the Trust Board Chair to the Executive Headteacher (CEO), to the Chairs of Local Academy Councils and Headteachers/Heads of School.
Great governance makes change happen and is fundamental to success by promoting attitudes and a culture where everything works towards fulfilling the vision, mission and objectives from the boardroom to the classroom.