On 1st June, 15 schools in the Helston area and on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall simultaneously converted to become Southerly Point Co-operative Multi-Academy Trust. The schools were previously a Co-operative Foundation Trust but recognised that academising was the next part of their journey together in order to ‘Enable Excellence Together’.
Donna Bryant, CEO, says, ‘This is more evolution than revolution. We are used to working together co-operatively, but since the schools committed to academise together, our partnership work has really blossomed. Previously, much of the partnership work was at Headteacher level, now we have networks groups of teachers, secretaries, clerks, governors, senior leaders, Designated Safeguarding Leads, SENCOs, – it just seems to have grown and gathered momentum. Groups of staff are innovating and taking the lead on all manner of things. We are beginning to see that we are more than the sum of our parts. It is very exciting.’
‘Essentially we believe that all children deserve the very best and we are working together to make that a reality for the children in our area. We have children from nursery age through to 19 year olds in the Trust’s Post 16 Centre based at Helston Community College.’
The Trust comprises of 2 secondary schools and 13 primaries, including 3 Church VA schools. The West Cornwall Teaching School based at Parc Eglos Primary School plays a central role in the school improvement work of the Trust.
Kevin Thomas, Chair of the Trust says: “Each school in the Trust also has its own special identity and culture – and it is important that these remain.” Co-operative values are “part of the DNA of the new Trust, it’s the way we do things, ” says Mr Thomas, “and this will help to continue to draw the 15 schools together. Pupils, parents, staff, former pupils and the wider community will be given a voice through the local governing bodies and the forum. ‘
Converting all 15 schools at once was challenging but, ‘No-one wanted to be left behind; everyone wanted to be involved in shaping and designing the Trust,’ Donna explains. ‘Undertaking due diligence, consultation and land and assets transfers for 15 schools had some inevitable hiccoughs but we got there in the end.’ Even though the legal work is completed and Trust has been launched there is still a myriad of work to be done: aligning key policies; managing the central bank account and finance system; harmonising support staff pay – the back office essentials that make things run efficiently and achieve economies of scale.
The schools are supported by a central team with a Chief Financial Officer, 2 Business Managers, an Estates Manager and an Administrator who work alongside the CEO.
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