The Williamson Trust
The Williamson Trust Family of Schools
Aspire. Achieve. Excel
1. Introduction: Vision and values
The vision for The Williamson Trust is summed up in our strapline: aspire, achieve, excel – all children in Trust schools are enabled to set their sights high, enjoy their learning and achieve beyond their expectations.
We passionately believe that there is no ceiling to what children and teachers can achieve and that by working together across the family of schools to build capacity and share expertise, we ensure that all children can achieve outstanding outcomes relative to their starting points.
Two core and non-negotiable values inform our work as a family of schools:
· Every child deserves to attend an outstanding school
· Every member of staff deserves outstanding challenge and support to enable them to perform to the best of their ability
The approach to school improvement taken by the Trust is based on the principle of collaborative leadership. We aim to build the capacity of each partner academy to drive its own improvement, through a combination of coaching, joint practice development, rigorous and fair appraisal processes and an unswerving focus on teaching and pupil progress.
2. The Williamson Trust: partner academies
The Williamson Trust was founded by Governors of Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School in April 2011. The Chair of Governors, Mr Michael Costello, is also Chair of The Williamson Trust and a National Leader of Governance, while the Executive Principal, Dr Gary Holden, is a National Leader of Education and CEO of the Trust.
The Trust is governed by an overarching Academy Trust Board, with significant powers delegated to local governing bodies.
There are currently four academies in our family of schools. In addition, we co-sponsor, alongside the Rochester Diocese Board of Education, St James’ Church of England Primary Academy.
The profile of the schools is as follows:
Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School is the founder member of the Trust, converting to Academy status in April 2011. There are 1200 students on role – boys in years 7-11 and co-educational post 16. Rated outstanding by OFSTED (2008), it became a National Support School in 2010, and, in 2011, one of the first 100 National Teaching Schools. The Headteacher is Eliot Hodges.
The Hundred of Hoo Academy is a rapidly improving all-ability school, which joined the Trust in 2011. There are just over 1300 students on role, of whom 150 are in the sixth form. It was graded ‘good’ by OFSTED (December 2012), just three years after being placed into Special Measures. The Headteacher is Gary Vyse.
High Halstow Primary School joined the Trust as a convertor academy in April 2012. A one-form entry school, it is currently graded ‘requires improvement’ by OFSTED (October, 2012). The Executive Headteacher, Mrs Hornett, also oversees Elaine Primary Academy.
Elaine Primary Academy joined the Trust as a sponsored academy on 1 September 2012. It is a two-form entry school that was last inspected in 2011, achieving a grade of satisfactory overall.
The Trust is also co-sponsor, in partnership with the Rochester Diocese Board of Education (RDBE), of St James’ Church of England Primary Academy in Grain. St James’ is a one-form entry school that became an academy on 1 December 2012. The school was placed in Special Measures in 2010, and was removed from category in July 2012, with the support of the SJWMS and HoH. The academy Principal is Ginny Wilson.
3. The Williamson Trust as an Academy Sponsor
The Williamson Trust has, in a short time, established itself as a credible, ambitious and effective academy sponsor. We can point to the following areas of our work that are particularly noteworthy:
a. The Trust has an exemplary track record of supporting rapid school improvement in partner schools, whilst enabling those schools to preserve their unique ethos and identity. Supported by SJWMS, the Hundred of Hoo came out of Special Measures within 15 months and is now itself on a strong trajectory towards outstanding, as evidenced by the December 2012 OFSTED report that judged the school to be ‘good’ in all areas.
In the inspection of High Halstow School in October, inspectors pointed out that "the trust in charge of the academy provides effective support. It is fully committed to raising achievement and has ensured that teachers receive high-quality professional development at all levels." This was further reinforced in the Section 8 letter published subsequently.
Similarly, HMI were very positive about the impact of the Trust in supporting St James' CE Primary out of Special Measures: "It has received invaluable support from the Williamson Trust through the executive headteacher of the two secondary schools involved."
b. The Trust can offer outstanding leadership. The Executive Principal/CEO of the Trust is a National Leader of Education, while the leadership of Gary Vyse at the Hundred of Hoo was rightly praised in the Hundred of Hoo’s recent inspection, as was the quality of leadership throughout the organisation. In addition, under Eliot Hodges' leadership, Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School achieved its best ever results in 2012.
The leadership arrangements at High Halstow that the Trust put in place from September 2012 were also commended by OFSTED. In addition, Mrs Hornett joined us as Primary Executive Headteacher for Elaine and High Halstow in January 2013 from Eastcote School in Welling which she took from Special Measures to 'good' in four years. All this points to growing and high quality leadership capacity that has the clear potential to transform other schools.
Senior leaders in Trust schools work together closely to shape and drive the Trust Development Plan, their work being informed by the principle of collaborative leadership.
c. The Trust offers outstanding professional development opportunities. All Trust schools work closely together. Senior leaders meet on a regular basis to monitor the progress of all schools and ensure that staff are receiving precisely targeted support. One of the major advantages of Trust status is the opportunity it affords for teachers and leaders to work together across school boundaries, as well as the chance to gain experience of teaching or leadership in other contexts. In addition, the Medway Teaching School Alliance makes available a wide range of courses and experiences. The CPD offer for Trust schools focuses in particular on the development of teaching and leadership skills and on a research-based approach to improvement.
d. The Trust offers outstanding governance. In his recent book Education, Education, Education, Andrew Adonis remarks that what the best academies and academy chains offer is ambitious and effective governance. We fall into this category. The Chair of The Williamson Trust, Michael Costello, is currently Medway's only National Leader of Governance, and, experienced governors have been appointed across the four schools that make up the Trust, whose effectiveness has already been noted by OFSTED, both in the recent Hundred of Hoo inspection, where governance was described as 'impressive' in the verbal feedback and at High Halstow in October, where the role of the NLG was highlighted: "the Chair of the Governing Body is being mentored by the Chair of the Academy Trust who is a National Leader of Governance. They have formed a professional partnership that is strengthening the governing body’s role."
e. The Trust is outward facing and has built outstanding links with other organisations through its work as a National Teaching School and national Support School. We also have excellent links with the National College and with the London Leadership Strategy. This latter relationship has enabled us to quickly build our support base for primary schools, giving us ready access to Primary NLEs in London and to the outstanding schools they lead. A number of London-based NLE's have worked alongside the Trust in the last 12 months and we expect this to continue.
4. Priorities for 2013-14
A Trust Development Plan is in place, shaped in collaboration between leaders and Directors, which sets out our determination to ensure all academies within the Trust either sustain their outstanding performance or are on a clear trajectory towards outstanding.
The plan is organized under four core targets:
· All children to make between 4-6 levels of progress per year;
· All teaching (including marking and assessment) to be consistently good or better, with an increasing proportion of teaching judged to be outstanding;
· Leadership at all levels to be consistently good or better;
· The Williamson Trust to become a recognised and trusted ‘brand’ and that membership of the Trust leads to outstanding professional development for staff, as well as the efficient and effective use of resources. A particular priority is to ensure that the Trust schools achieve best value in the commissioning of services such as ICT, school business management and HR, and that Trust schools comply with all relevant safeguarding and health and safety legislation.
Dr Gary Holden
Executive Principal/ CEO
The Williamson Trust