For this month’s column, we’ve invited Julie Taylor, the chief executive of the Thomas Deacon Education Trust, to talk about the role of the group and how academies have changed the face of education, writes Peterborough City Council director of education Jonathan Lewis. So over to you Julie…
I’ll start off with a statistic that may surprise you.
At present, more than 50 per cent of children and young people in the country are now educated in the academy sector.
The education system has undergone significant changes in recent years and unless you’re involved with schools or a pupil/parent yourself, you may be unsure how this all works.
Here in Peterborough, we have a number of multi academy trusts. These are groups of schools working together as single legal entities to improve life chances for children.
The Thomas Deacon Education Trust (TDET) is one such entity and we are actively working to improve and maintain high educational standards across the group.
TDET has a single legal and moral purpose - to advance education for the public benefit.
As a family of academies, we work closely together and share expertise which creates great opportunities for children and teachers.
We share good practice on the important things like curriculum, assessment and behaviour.
We offer structured career pathways for teachers, supported by high quality professional development and action research so teachers and leaders learn together.
We work to improve education for our pupils by sharing ideas and expertise with each other.
Like any other state school, our academies are free to attend, we are inspected in the same way by Ofsted and our pupils take the same tests and exams.
We help our communities thrive by giving children the best opportunities to learn inside and outside the classroom.
We do this based on a shared set of values: Trust, Diversity, Excellence and Transformation.
But the most important aspect for me is that, together, we are a group of people who hold trust on behalf of children.
Thomas Deacon Education Trust currently comprises of Gladstone Primary Academy, Queen Katharine Academy, Thomas Deacon Academy (seniors and juniors), Warboys Primary Academy, Welbourne Primary Academy and Upwood Primary Academy, Gladstone Nursery and Queen Katharine Nursery.
We also have a firm partnership with Iqra Academy. Over 1,500 children attend our primary schools and our secondary schools have over 3,000 students.
There are more than 4,500 pupils and students in our six schools and nurseries. The Trust employs over 700 staff with an annual turnover of over £28 million.
There are those who argue for a return to local authorities maintaining all schools, but this issue is no longer straightforward.
Peterborough has approached this in a mature and appropriate way by welcoming the establishment of academy trusts to drive improvement whilst still being the champion of all children, particularly the most vulnerable.
It’s also worth pointing out that the decision to become an academy is in the hands of local governors.
Local government has traditionally been the employer, improver and regulator of local school systems and plays a challenging role balancing politics and administrative responsibilities.
It should ensure there is a school place for every child, that all who play a part in the local system work together and that our collective actions result in high-quality education.
Multi academy trusts across Peterborough work together with the council’s Service Director for Education to make sure this is happening.
Thanks for taking the time to speak us Julie.
Finally on a separate note, I’m pleased to report that our annual school governor conference was once again a success.
The event, which gives people a chance to find out more about the role of a school governor, took place at Hampton Gardens School on June 1 and attracted a decent turnout.
The benefits of being a school governor are wide ranging and you will pick up a whole host of new skills by working in key areas such as finance, target setting and strategic planning.
We currently have 50 governor / trust vacancies across the city, so please help us improve standards through playing a role. For more information about becoming a governor and to apply visit www.peterborough.gov.uk.