Venue: Stour Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo 03000 416624
The Chair welcomed the guest to the committee and a short introduction was given by Members.
Q – Please introduce yourself and odder and outline of the roles and responsibilities that your post involves?
Simon O’Keefe stated that he was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Stour Academy Trust and explained that his primary role involved setting the strategy and vision for the Trust, building the culture across the entirety of the Trust, team building and capital allocation.
Q - What is The Stour Academy Trust and what are its values?
In 2009, following his recognised achievement, the Local Authority sought help for Sturry C.E Primary School (now the primary sponsor of the Trust) and in 2010, it started its journey of federation with Hersden Village Primary School. This was primarily the start of working in strategic collaboration, providing school to school support rather than working with schools on a stand-alone basis. Within two days of the federation the school was placed into special measures, however within 9 months of rapid improvement, Ofsted had graded the school as “Good.” However, Michael Gove, The Secretary for Education at that time, identified the bottom 200 worst performing schools in the county, declaring they needed to be sponsored by an academy. Given Hersden Primary’s historical data it was included in this bottom 200 and hence the establishment of The Stour Academy Trust.
The Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) was approached by the Local Authority (LA), Department for Education (DfE) and the Regional schools commissioners (RSCs), asking that it support the failing schools and seek solutions to improve and maintain a level of success.
The Stour Academy Trust worked within a strong collaborative model of school to school support (S2S), there is no stand-alone school. Simon O’Keefe noted that with the models cohesive approach, it was always seeking the very best practice and once identified, this practice was then deployed and adopted throughout other schools.
In regard to the values, The Stour Academy Trust had placed the needs of the children at the heart of its decision making and placed a heavy emphasis on the well-being and education of children above all else. Simon O’Keefe went on to elaborate further on the importance of a child’s well-being and said that if a child was not ready to learn, there would be no success to measure. Prior to its new status, Sturry C.E Primary School was primarily led by the needs of the adults rather than those of the children, however due to the improvements made, the schools went on to adopt a pro-active ‘can-do’ attitude and removed the barriers to learning.
Q – What other schools are in the Trust?
Simon O’Keefe said that there were currently seven schools in the Trust and another opening in September. The Stour Academy Trust was attempting to collaborate however due to the scale of this, it was not possible to manage. Therefore, the schools were grouped into 4 geographical hubs, these areas would include Canterbury, Swale and Ashford. ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
Richard Hawkins (Headteacher, Green Park Community Primary School) was in attendance.
The Chair welcomed the guests to the Committee and a short introduction was given my Members.
Q – Please introduce yourself and provide an overview of the roles and responsibilities that your post involves.
Richard introduced himself as the Headteacher of Green Park Community Primary School, Dover. He said that the school was a 2 form entry school located on a large, deprived social-housing estate. He said that he took over the school when it was formed from the amalgamation of the Powell and Melbourne schools and was appointed to oversee the process. Richard also worked for Kent Leaders of Education (KLE), supporting other local primary schools and other Headteachers in their roles and worked with a national agency called PiXL (Partners in Excellence) and was a member of the PiXL Associate Team.
Q – In which area in Dover is the School based?
Richard said that the school was located in an area with large amount of social-housing and was the most deprived town in Dover.
Q – Could you explain the ‘Erasmus Plus’ project in more detail?
Richard said that the Erasmus Plus project was funded by British Councils and founded through the European Union. He said the project allowed Green Park Community Primary School to celebrate the growing diversity within schools and look at ways to engage and support migrant pupils with their integration into a new country and education system.
Q – Are there many children in the School where English is not their first language?
Richard explained that there were a much smaller number of migrant children at Green Park Community Primary School than there were in schools located closer to the Dover town, he said that roughly 10% of children in the school were migrant children. He added that it was not as big an issue for the school as it was located on an estate outside of the town, but said he thought it would be more of an issue for migrant children in schools that were closer to the town centre.
Q – What are the different languages spoken by migrant children at the School?
Richard said the majority of migrant children in the school were from Slovakia, Poland and Lithuania.
Q – Do language barriers make it difficult to engage with migrant children’s parents?
Richard said that the school tended to use other parents that speak the same language which can make this much easier.
Q – Since the Pupil Premium has been introduced, have there been any different results?
Richard said that when Green Park Community Primary School was formed in 2008, the Pupil Premium did not exist, and therefore understanding the children had been different to how perhaps the now older children were understood previously. Richard said that he did not agree with ‘labelling’ the children as ‘Pupil Premium Children’ and ‘Rich Children’ as the school did not have that diversity. He said that since the Pupil Premium ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
1) The Chairman welcomed Sue Nicholson and Deb Unsworth to the meeting and invited them to introduce themselves.
(2) Sue Nicholson said she had been the Headteacher at The Brent Primary School for 13 years prior to becoming the Executive Headteacher. She was currently also working for other schools in the Dartford area. She was a member of the Primary Forum and the Kent Association of Headteachers and a Non-Executive Director of The Education Company.
(3) Deb Unsworth had been the Deputy Headteacher at The Brent School for 8 years until August 2017. During this period she had led on Assessment and English and had been responsible for tracking vulnerable pupils.
(4) Sue Nicholson explained that she had developed the “Ignite” curriculum at The Brent Primary School as a means of tailoring education to the individual needs of the pupils whilst ensuring that the requirements of the National Curriculum were being met. The “ignite” curriculum needed to accommodate pupils from contrasting social backgrounds in order that they could all be progress towards maximising their potential. One example of this was that The Brent School gave Years 1 and 2 pupils the entitlement to use the swimming pool even though the National Curriculum itself did not require this activity until Key Stage 2.
(5) The Chairman noted that there were 98 pupils at The Brent School who received Free School Meals and that the funding stood at £142k. She asked whether the School sought to distribute this money equally.
(6) Sue Nicholson replied that although economically vulnerable pupils were tracked, they did not necessarily all need financial support at the same time. Pupils who were not in receipt of the Pupil Premium, but were economically, socially or educationally vulnerable were also tracked. Money was allocated to families at the rate of £152 per year, which could pay for uniforms, clubs or for activities such as the Year 2 Sleepover, the Year 4 school trip to the Rippledown Environmental Centre or the Year 6 four nights in France trip. The fund was held by the Family Liaison Officer (FLO), which enabled the School to provide budgetary training for parents if necessary. Experience had shown that parents were reluctant to apply for Free School Meals before the child entered school, but that they did so afterwards. In preparation for admission, the Early Years Team visited every Nursery and met the families in their homes in order to talk to them about school readiness. This function was carried out by the Family Liaison Officer (FLO) in respect of casual admissions. Families sometimes experienced changed circumstances. Whenever this happened, the School would talk to the parents and explain what the support that they might be entitled to. Personal contact of this nature was reinforced by a leaflet, which was also made readily accessible by being placed prominently within the School itself.
(7) Sue Nicholson moved on to give examples of non-financial support that was provided. If the parents did not have the reading skills to ... view the full minutes text for item 12.