Message from Dawn Carman-Jones, Chair of Trust Board
Can I start by acknowledging the phenomenal work and effort that has been undertaken by all staff over the last 12 months during the pandemic. This has been a challenging time for you all and the changes to guidance has added to a very changing environment. What I would like to add is that there are many positives that are being communicated as a result of the changes to working practices and I know that the Board is keen to ensure that these benefits are retained as we move forwards and further embed education in our local communities.
I believe that one of the strengths of being within the Trust has been our ability to collectively face these challenges. And whilst this has meant the centralisation of some of the decision making during this time, I hope that this has been in a supportive and, where possible, a collaborative way. I also acknowledge that this hasn’t always been achievable due to the speed of change imposed by Government deadlines, but that all decisions have been, in the opinion of the Board, in the best interest of our young people and communities, within the framework of regulations set out.
The importance of the culture, vision and values of the Trust has been in the forefront of our recent discussions and decision making. Not just because of the pandemic, but also because this is what defines us an organisation. They are our WHY. This was the central theme of our strategy day in December and I wanted to share with you what that discussion looked like.
Since inception in 2016, and before that in determining the Trust, the vision, values and culture have remained constant. We are providers of educational opportunity for young people in our local communities and we use the broadest metrics when defining education We believe in community based education and that intrinsically involves small rural primary schools. And we believe that there are different ways to achieving these aims and in using the freedom that the academy sector enjoys to ensure we deliver that educational opportunity.
What the pandemic has highlighted, is that whilst the core values, vision and culture of the organisation hasn’t fundamentally changed, some of the implementation of these values into practice has been lost along the way. There is no blame attached to this, it is something that happens in many organisations as they grow. As more schools and new staff have joined the Trust, they bring their own interpretations and nuances and this has resulted in us losing some of the strength of the voice of our core values.
I know that many of you are involved in the curriculum development work that Tamsin is leading, and this is a key driver to bringing the values and vision back to the forefront of our delivery; afterall the educational delivery is our core purpose; and we are starting from a position where staff and pupil wellbeing, and inclusion are non negotiable. But I believe that we should be going further than just focusing on the curriculum to delivery our core values, we should all be able to articulate the vision, values and culture of the organisation, we should see it in all our working practices, we should see it in our policies and procedures, and it should be at the heart of all decision making. I am sure that this is happening in part, at all sites, but could this be stronger, what can we do that will strengthen this and embed it further?
Over the forthcoming months, there will be more collaboration into what this looks like and I would welcome feedback from you as individuals as to what is working well with this regard and what we could be doing differently or better, or what we need to stop doing in order to achieve this stronger communication, understanding and implementation of our core values.
There are a number of forums already established that you can contribute to, and I am happy to receive comments and feedback directly or through your line management structure if that is most appropriate.
I will also be meeting with the Academy Heads over the next half term to get a current, first hand picture of each of our sites, something that has been ‘lost’ during the pandemic and our inability to access school sites.
Over the next few weeks and months, we will feed back our findings and share with you a plan of how we are going to address the issues raised during these discussions, this will dovetail in with the curriculum work that Tamsin is leading and will continue to be central to our decision making and strategic planning.
We’re now navigating the next phase of the pandemic as we re-open school sites to all pupils, and I am confident that you will face this with the same level of professionalism, determination and dedication that you have shown to date. So, on behalf of the Trust Board, can I thank you all for your collective and individual efforts, I am in awe and overwhelmed by what has been achieved during these challenging times.
I look forward to speaking to you and receiving your thoughts and comments.
Best wishes and sincere thanks