Schools join the Trust as equal partners (unless sponsored).
Avenue Primary Academy
Cirrus Primary Academy Trust was established by Avenue Primary School, a teaching school since 2013. The school changed its name to Avenue Primary Academy on conversion. Avenue Primary Academy has built capacity to provide extensive school to school support, and has a strong history of working with both local schools and schools nationally. DfE approved Avenue Primary Academy as a Sponsor in September 2014.
Avenue Primary Academy is a very large school of 992 pupils in Sutton. It has 57 teachers, many of them with experience in working with colleagues in other schools, leading training, research and development and teacher training. Eight of its teachers are Specialist Leaders of Education.
Avenue has an SEN Opportunity Base for children where Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is identified as the prime need. This is expanding over the coming years, and is likely to be for 15 children in Reception and KS1, and 20 children at KS2.
Kingsley Primary Academy
Kingsley joins the Trust as a sponsored academy in January 2017. Kingsley is also a large school with around 1,000 pupils, and is based in the Broad Green area of Croydon. Kingsley has a Primary Hearing Centre for 18 deaf children.
On behalf of the Trust, the Teaching School works with strategic partners to ensure that it has capacity to deliver all aspects of a teaching school. Strategic Partners include other local primary schools, a local secondary teaching school, a local university, and the Local Authority (and its spin-out company, SES Ltd). Within the Teaching School Alliance we are able to deploy 27 Specialist Leaders of Education.
The Trust will ensure that it has capacity to support its schools through the teaching school and the other good and outstanding schools and academies in the Trust, and will ensure that priority is given to schools within the Trust. Avenue Primary Academy will continue to provide support to other schools outside the Trust where it has capacity.
The recruitment of a Head Teacher into Outstanding schools is an increasing issue for school leadership, and governing bodies are experiencing difficulties in appointing head teachers, often not being able to fill vacancies. Governors are finding themselves in the difficult position of not being able to sustain the excellent work during periods of no leadership. By the time a Leader has been found, schools can find themselves in a declining situation. Governors and Head Teachers of Outstanding schools see joining the Cirrus Primary Academy Trust as a way of grasping that difficult issue and ensuring that there is a support mechanism to drive up standards even when a Head Teacher is not in place.
Where there are no issues with recruitment, Outstanding schools also recognise that a key element of remaining outstanding is to provide inter-school support. Our Trust provides leaders with a structure to do that work and to see continued improvement in their own school.
Good schools that join the Trust will have the opportunity to work with other schools that need their experience and knowledge and, in doing so, will improve their own skills and raise standards in their own schools. For the head teacher there will be a flexible support mechanism that allows them to operate with a clear contextual understanding of their school. They will be supported to improve their quality of leadership, teaching and children’s outcomes within their own school.
For governors, a key reason for joining the Cirrus Primary Academy Trust is the opportunity for continuity of leadership. Governors will be all too aware of the cyclical nature of schools which can fluctuate from Good to Requires Improvement and even into an Ofsted category. Such a change is often related to a change in school leadership or a period of no leadership. The Trust offers a way of ensuring that the hard work of Head Teacher and Governors to get to Good is not lost during a period of change but is built upon to drive the school even further forward.
Schools Requiring Improvement
Schools Requiring Improvement which join the Trust will be subject to an intensive support package that leads to a rapid improvement of the quality of education provided. Many of the strategic aspects (such as finance, policies, planning) for running the school will be held centrally but a significant part of the Trust’s work will be to ensure that the leadership of the school understands how those aspects are used to drive school improvement. The Trust works on the principle that any school can be Outstanding provided the leadership is right and a key part of our early work will be to establish an effective leadership team for school improvement. If that leadership team is not within the school then leadership will be provided from within the Trust. One of our key aims here will be to ensure that the school retains all the positive aspects of its work.
Schools in Category
It is not anticipated that the Trust will agree to sponsor more than one new school in category at any one time.
An individual bespoke package will be designed for any school in an Ofsted category. The Trust will work with governors who understand the work required at all levels to ensure children receive a high quality educational experience. The school will be supported to make rapid, lasting improvements which have an immediate impact upon standards. The Trust will take any action it considers to be in the best interests of children’s education and work diligently with staff who are passionate about school improvement. All the strategic aspects will be held centrally and a tailor-made training package will be developed to ensure improvement.
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We have no mould or model for a school and we expect every school to have a unique ethos that they can retain.
The Cirrus Primary Academy Trust has not set itself any targets in terms of numbers of schools, although we believe that up to six schools would operate effectively together, and we believe strongly that such an organisation with shared capacity will improve outcomes for children. Those schools must have the capacity to effect change, so we are working on a model of at least half of the schools in the Trust being Good or Outstanding, and no more than one school being in category. For this reason, the Trust will undertake a contextually sensitive review of each school prior to them joining. Schools may be asked to wait until an opportunity arises that fits their needs and the needs of all schools in the Trust.
The Trust’s initial vision was to create a MAT of primary schools but this does not mean that its model is inflexible. As the education landscape changes, so too will the Trust. Joining the Trust at this early stage of development will help to shape the future of the organisation.