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Consultation is taking place about Churnet View and Leek High schools becoming trust schools

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

  • Executive principal of the Leek Federation Keith Hollins

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THE Leek Federation formed in September 2012 and is made up of Churnet View Middle School, Leek High School and Westwood College.

The college has already been given a trust status, and now the governors of the Leek Federation are considering whether or not to apply for trust status for both Churnet View and Leek High schools.

Westwood College is a trust school with the Leek Federation Learning Trust, formerly known as the Westwood Co-operative Learning Trust.

Now the Leek Federation is consulting with parents and other stakeholders about turning Leek High and Churnet View into a foundation trust school and joining them into the Leek Federation Learning Trust.

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A trust school is a local authority maintained school which is supported by a charitable trust. Trusts can be set up by individual schools or groups of schools, and usually involve collaboration with partners.

Churnet View Middle School and Leek High Special-ist Technology School are interested in joining the Leek Federation Learning Trust.

In addition to the three schools there would be partners and associates of the trust, who would work together using co-operative principles as a foundation for continued and improved collaboration.

The trust works with the Co-operative College, and involves adopting co-operative values.

There are currently some 700 schools nationally that are members of Co-operative Trusts, a mutually beneficial ethical trust model.

A public meeting was set to be held at Leek High School last night, Tuesday, January 28, as part of the consultation process.

In becoming a Trust School, some aspects stay the same, such as: * The school would continue to teach the National Curriculum, receive funding through the Local Authority, follow the School Admissions Code and receive periodic visits from Ofsted; * They would also remain part of the Local Authority family of schools; * The schools joint Governing Body would continue to be responsible for running the school; * Teachers would automatically continue to be employed on the same terms and conditions and the schools would make sure that this was also true for non-teaching staff. The changes would include: * The schools joint Governing Body would employ staff, not the local authority, who will remain on their existing pay and conditions; * School assets – grounds and buildings – would be held by the trust rather than the local authority; * The Trust can appoint additional governors to support and strengthen the governing body.

Mr Hollins said: "The Leek Federation has fully supported the national agenda for the transformation of services for children and young people over the last two years.

"We have worked hard to improve outcomes for all of our young people, in order to improve their life chances and well being outcomes.

"At this period in the federation's development acquiring a Co-operative Trust will enable the three schools to become more responsive and accountable to local needs.

"It will give us greater control over our staffing, land and buildings.

"Parents, students, staff and local voluntary groups will be eligible to become members of the Trust Board.

"It is important that our community realises its vision for the future of the federation; trust status will enable us to do so.

"By acquiring a mutual Co-operative Trust, supported by a range of partners and stakeholders who are united behind our vision, The Leek federation hopes to not only transform the life chances of every student that passes through the schools, but to have lasting positive impact on the wider community as well.

"We aim to provide the best education for all students in our area by working together to provide a personalised education for all, as well as promoting community cohesion.

"The unique feature of a Cooperative Trust is that it would have a membership drawn from parents, students, staff and community organisations.

"There will be an elected Forum from the membership, which would help to shape policy, elect some of the Trust Board and ultimately hold the trust to account.

"The intention is to give the Trust roots in those it serves, adopting an attitude from 'the schools' to 'our schools'.

"While our schools may be forced to respond to financial and political pressures the key driving force behind this proposal is to improve the quality of educational provision." Some examples of ways in which the federation will be able to increase its support for improvements to learning, according to Mr Hollins, include: * Transition between stages and schools will be further improved; * Schools can develop a range of clear and consistent policies and procedures for a range of educational activities such as assessment, learning and teaching, quality control, classroom management; * Improved cooperation will allow for even greater sharing of good practice, teaching expertise, management and the reaching of joint solutions to individual problems; it will build capacity; * Schools do not enjoy the benefits of equally good facilities: strengthened partnership will enable us to more readily share our facilities and improve the educational opportunities of our youngsters; * Protocols can be established ensuring that there is 'joined–up thinking' around holidays, training sessions, whole school events and transition; * It will create a single learning community that will improve educational outcomes and strengthen the consistency of education for the whole community.

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