1. Which academy trust is the the governing body considering joining want to join?
Richard Cloudesley School Governing Bodygoverning body is consulting to decide whether to convert to an academy and join The Bridge London Trust. This conclusion comes after careful consideration.
If governors agree to covert to an academy then we would have the choice to set up our own MAT or join an established one. As an outstanding school, and in order to maintain standards within our school, it is important that we align ourselves with other high performing schools. Currently, there are no outstanding local special schools that are considering converting to become an academy, meaning that we are unable to set up our own MAT with other special schools as we would not have schools to go into partnership with. Therefore, if we were to convert, we would have to join an established MAT. There are only two special school MATs in this area, Swiss Cottage School in Camden, and The Bridge London Trust in Islington.
2. Why the Bridge London Trust?
The Bridge London Trust is made up of The Bridge School (primary & secondary), The Bridge Integrated Learning Space, The Bridge Satellite Provision and a mainstream primary school. The Bridge School is a large special school based on two sites (a primary and secondary school) catering for pupils with autism and complex learning difficulties. It is also a teaching school; promoting research, training teachers and providing a wide staff development offer, and operates an outreach service providing advice and support for mainstream schools including pupils with autism and learning difficulties. The work of all the schools is supported by a central team and overseen by a board of directors of the Trust. Each school has a local governing body which oversees the quality and provision for teaching and learning in that school.
As an Islington special school, we have a long-standing relationship with The Bridge London Trust schools. Were we to join their MAT this would enhance Richard Cloudesley provision by:
Further information about The Bridge London Trust can be found on their website: www.thebridgelondon.co.uk
3. Why might it be in the best interests of the school to join a MAT? And why now?
In Autumn 2016, to strategically plan the future of Richard Cloudesley School, a group of governors and school leaders consulted parents, pupils, and staff to review the school vision, values and purpose:
Our purpose is to educate and empower our young people to develop the attitudes, skills and courage to succeed
Our vision is to be a model of best practice in education innovation and collaboration that will provide guidance and inspiration locally and internationally
Our values are:
We believe that converting to an academy and joining a MAT is a positive step towards achieving the purpose, vision and values we have all contributed and committed to.
It would give us more flexibility and creativity to develop the curriculum that we provide because we would not be obliged to follow every detail of the national curriculum; it would allow us to continue to teach in the way that we think is best. As an academy, we would have the freedom to offer a value based curriculum, designed to be engaging, relevant and appropriate to the needs of the children whilst promoting and maintaining the very high standards achieved by the school. In conjunction with The Bridge London, Richard Cloudesley School would be free to continue to develop innovative approaches that enhance children’s skills and aptitudes.
It would give us responsibility for more of our finances. As an academy, Richard Cloudesley School could use its money to buy in all the services that it wants and uses. A MAT is a single legal entity, promoting strong collaboration among member schools and accountability to drive up standards and quality. It can negotiate contracts and services that achieve much better value for money than each school negotiating individually. This means that more of the school’s funding can be focused upon teaching and learning.
It would enable our quality of education to extend beyond the 81 pupils who attend Richard Cloudesley School because being an academy would allow greater sharing of resources and expertise. This is a unique opportunity to join a progressive MAT which already includes specialist provision for young people with autism, a mainstream primary school, a research and development centre and a teaching school. The move to become an academy within The Bridge London would provide the widest range of opportunities for all staff, parents and governors.
Joining The Bridge London Trust would not prevent us from working in partnership with the LEA. We would be able to continue that relationship in the areas that we consider most beneficial for the school.
4. Who makes up the board of directors of the The Bridge London Trust? How is the board of directors elected? Will the head teacher of each academy sit on the board?
The board is made up of external directors chosen for their particular skill set, and representatives from The Bridge School as the lead school. There are currently no plans for the head teacher of each school to sit on the board, although the Richard Cloudesley governors are keen to ensure the school is well represented at all levels.
5. Will we have a say in how big the MAT will be?
The growth strategy for The Bridge London Trust is nine schools, including a mix of mainstream and special schools.