Table of Contents
Introduction From the CEO: David O’Toole
It has been an exciting term for us as a Trust, beginning the year with Bridgnorth Endowed School and Bowbrook Primary School joining us as of 1st September. We have begun the process of Hodnet Primary School joining the Trust, to be finalised early in 2024 and Ofsted visited two of our schools, Thomas Adams School and Bridgnorth Endowed, both of which were judged Good in all categories. The excitement of these developments is being followed by our second Trust conference which will be held at Telford International Centre on 27th October.
Our conference is an indicator of our commitment to invest in all staff across the Trust. The programme for the day begins with a keynote presentation from Kriss Akabusi and leads into optional workshops followed by a further keynote from Mark Finnis before we close for the day. Staff will be engaged in a wide range of activities from finance to student engagement and there will be something for everyone. We will evaluate the success of the day and build on this experience for future events to ensure all staff feel invested in and have an enjoyable and productive experience.
As a Trust we are working hard to ensure networks are strengthened and everyone feels connected. If you feel that we could be doing more to support any particular role across the Trust, please let us know. We are also keen to hear from external bodies that would like to form partnerships for the good of children and staff both within the Trust and further afield. With this in mind, we will be taking part in a Trust peer review later this term and throughout the year to find how we might continue to work better for the future.
School improvement: Claire Jones Deputy CEO
Our School Improvement team has grown this term and we have welcomed Sadie Howson onto the team. Sadie is our trust SEND and Safeguarding consultant on a part-time basis, alongside her role as SENDCO at Coleham and at Bowbrook Primary Schools. Sadie has been working in a number of our schools this term, supporting both SENDCos and DSLs.
Sadie is deeply committed to fostering inclusivity and ensuring the diverse needs of all our students are met across our entire network of schools. She will play a pivotal role in guiding each school not only in assessing their current practices, but also in the ongoing pursuit of areas for enhancement to unlock opportunities for all students as they navigate life beyond the classroom.
A central emphasis of her role will be the development of our inclusion hubs within selected primary and secondary schools, where she will refine our Trust’s overarching vision and establish best practices before extending these models to other settings.
In addition, we have welcomed a number of Trust Improvement Consultants to the team, who are able to share their knowledge and expertise in other trust schools. We do have some gaps in our pool of consultants though and are looking for consultants in the following areas:
- Maths leadership (secondary)
- MFL (secondary)
- Science (secondary)
- Behaviour (primary and secondary)
- SEMH interventions (primary)
- English (primary)
People: Laura Taylor –Director of HR
Systems and Communication – Tim Goodman, IT Director
We have now started out first full academic year of most school being on the same domain and look forward to some great collaboration and communication between us all. I have already been chatting to staff on teams across the Trust and see many staff already supporting each other from within the teams chat function. Just type the name in the chat search bar for anyone you could do with speaking to start a conversation! Click on the Add Participant at any point to include others in the chat.
Students now have their resources all available in Teams from their subjects across most schools and the staff SharePoint site at each school is built ready to customise according to how the school requires.
As of early October, we now have over 6,000,000 files in OneDrive with over 1000 files open at any one point in time. This is over 12.8TB of personal data storage to manage and keep safe and secure.
We now have 4,500 Teams across the Trust. That is one for every lesson with a few more besides.
Apart from keeping all of your data secure, we are now looking to report on student online usage in schools with a new tool to be rolled out in the coming months to make sure we continue to provide better and better safety features for our students.
With a proven track record of security in our schools, I am hoping during the coming year, we will be one of the first MATs to be certified in best practice for Cyber Essentials.
The new term has been busy with all 8 Local Governing Bodies (LGB) and the Trust Board holding meetings.
We welcomed 2 new Local Governing Bodies, Bridgnorth Endowed and Bowbrook Primary. Trustees and our Governance Support Team have been working with Bridgnorth Endowed trustees, now local governors, for a while so it was very pleasing to hold the LGB’s first meeting as part of our Trust. Bowbrook Primary LGB also held their first meeting, but this was different. As a new free school, members of the LGB were new to our Trust and to each other!
Our Governance Professional, Carole Warner, prepared a presentation to explain school governance and in particular governance in our Trust for Bowbrook local governors. It set the scene for their work in setting the strategic direction of the school and supporting Sam Aiston, Headteacher, and his team. It was agreed to share the presentation with all LGBs as a reminder of the important role local governors play in the direction and improvement of our schools.
There have been some changes in trustees and local governors since the summer term with some local governors leaving at the end of their term. A special mention of Paul Kitchener (The Priory) and Andy Hewitt (Coleham Primary) who both ‘retired’ after many years of service to their respective schools. Geoff Hulme was co-opted to the Trust Board at its October meeting. Geoff has served as Chair of Coleham Primary LGB since November 2020 and agreed to join the Trust Board following a vacancy. Geoff’s responsibilities as trustee include being the link trustee for The Priory School and for Careers. Dave Jones has taken over as Chair of Coleham Primary LGB. As well as new local governors at Bowbrook Primary, we welcomed Christian Toon at William Brookes School and Joshua Firmin at St Martins School. Recruitment of elected parent and staff local governors and appointed governors at all schools continues. If you are interested in joining our governance team in schools, please contact me.
The Trust has expanded over the last few years and last year the Regions Office of the Department for Education requested an External Review of Governance to take place. This was to ensure we have the right procedures and processes in place to direct the Trust. The review was carried out in the summer term with the report being published at the start of this term. I am very pleased to confirm that governance at all levels in the Trust is strong, and although there are some recommendations to action, the External Reviewer from the National Governance Association classed them as ‘the icing on the cake’! Thank you to all trustees and local governors for volunteering your time willingly to achieve this high level of governance. I must also mention our governance support team who are always there to assist trustees and local governors and cajole when we are behind with reports and returns!
Looking ahead, we are planning our second annual Governance Conference to be held in February 2024. Details will be released in the next half term.
Finally, I expect this year to be another year of exciting progress for our Trust and all involved in governance, members, trustees, and local governors, are looking forward to helping ensure pupils receive the best possible education and staff enjoy rewarding and valued employment.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Updates from our Schools
Coleham Primary School
Art Gallery Opening and a New Deputy
It has been an exciting start to the new school year at Coleham: the start of a new chapter for the school community but a continuation of the same Coleham magic, ethos and personality. We welcome Alison Turner as our Deputy Headteacher with a wealth of experience, and also Chrissi Harris stepped up to Assistant Headteacher to further support the school.
Autumn Term Highlights
September Social Fair
Our term began with our annual September Social which is always a welcome opportunity to meet out whole community: past, present and future. It’s a wonderful event that really helps to get out new EYFS children and their families get to know the rest of the school community.
Trips and Visitors
Lots has happened so far this term already! There have already been a number of trips and visitors, including a visiting poet, Ancient Greece workshops and reading to our elderly neighbours, to name a few. Mrs Allan has set to with our School Council and Eco Council to reinvigorate them for 2023-24, with some exciting plans in the pipeline to make our local area cleaner and safer.
Townsend Art Gallery
Miss Heap and Miss Othen have worked incredibly hard at the end of last year and the start of this terms to open our very own art gallery. The Townsend Art Gallery, named for Judy Townsend (former Coleham teacher, mayoress of Shrewsbury and founder of the Belle Vue Arts Festival) which will allow our pupils, teachers and parents showcase their considerable artistic talents. Members of Judy’s family were present for the opening and it is a great testament to Judy’s impact on Coleham that her creative passion is still felt strongly today, many years after she retired.
As I write this, our Careers Week is about to take off where we have invited many of our parents to discuss and demonstrate their varied and interesting careers. We have a vet, a doctor, an architect, a writer, a footballer and even a Headteaching retired zookeeper… It’s always a great week to inspire our children and help them to form dreams to work towards.
Bowbrook Primary School
A Grand Opening and Busy Start!
We are up and running! It has been fantastic to finally open the school and welcome our first ever children into Bowbrook. It seems like we have already achieved so much and have established wonderful relationships with our families but this is just the beginning.
In terms of what we have been up to, I do not know where to start. Our children have started swimming lessons at Prestfelde, been out on visits to Inside Out, the local community and West Midlands Safari park. We have had cookery lessons from Katie’s kitchen, visits from a local illustrator, Reverend Charlotte and started weekly music sessions. Our children have started baking club, dance and football. We really are a school of opportunity!
We had our Grand Opening on the 30th September and it was great to see so many of our families, friends and neighbours mixing and having a great time. We are building a wonderful community at Bowbrook and we are so excited at the future. We are keen for the people in our area to use the wonderful facilities and we will be welcoming enquiries.
We have many more activities and trips planned for the rest of this calendar year and we will be looking to build an incredible outdoor area for the children to extend their learning.
The Priory School
Travel, Transport and the Royal Canadian Navy
During our recent France trips (Year 9: April 2023 and Year 8: June 2023) we were fortunate to be able to visit the site of the Canadian World War I Memorial at Vimy Ridge. We also hope to visit with Year 8 as part of our June 2024 visit. We have recently received correspondence from Rear Admiral Steve Waddell, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, who expressed his delight that students from a school in Shrewsbury have visited this memorial and have appreciated its significance to Canada’s history.
In French lessons, our students learn about how French is spoken all over the world, including as one of the main languages in Canada. In History lessons, students study the importance of World War I and its impact internationally. Although a difficult visit in some ways, as we faced the magnitude of the consequences of war and how teenagers in particular gave their lives fighting, we all found it very interesting and moving.
As an expression of their appreciation for our visit, The Royal Canadian Navy also sent us some gifts, including caps, modelled by some of the students who went on the visit here!
Active Travel Week
As part of Active Travel Week, we welcomed Bernie Bentick to school to talk to the students about the changes that Shropshire Council are making to the roads near our school to make it safer and easier for our students to make sustainable and healthy travel choices.
St Martins 3-16 School
A New Classroom, an MP visit and a World Champion Swimmer
It’s always a pleasure to open our doors to the wider community and this year’s open day and evening was no exception. What a fabulous open day and evening yesterday! Over 145 families came to see our lovely school and many of them commented about our confident, engaging and enthusiastic students who were tour guides and subject experts in all the departments. Visitors who toured in the day commented on the quiet concentration they saw in all classes across the school.
We welcomed MP Helen Morgan into school to formally open our new Food Technology classroom. This modern well equipped classroom is a real asset to our technology department and will be used by all years groups up to and including those studying for a Food and Nutrition GCSE. After the opening Helen spoke with me and Mrs Jones about traffic calming and parking issues outside school. This has been highlighted by Helen at other schools across North Shropshire as an area of concern.
In august, our cover Supervisor Ms Collins travelled to Fukuoka in Japan to compete in the World Master Swimming Championships representing GB but also Wrexham Masters Swimming Club. Fabulous results placing 6th in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, 10th in the 50m freestyle and finishing with her best ever performance winning a bronze medal in the 50m breaststroke, breaking her Welsh record in the process! The trip and the results will be a huge motivator to keep training over the cold, dark winter months., all in preparation for Singapore 2025 !!!
Our silver duke of Edinburgh group have spent a few days away in the Ceiriog valley and onto Llangollen on their practice expedition, weather looks fabulous but reports back to school have said the weather has been a challenge—well done everyone!!
“Aspirational Environment” Leads to Good Ofsted Rating at Bridgnorth Endowed
Students and staff at Bridgnorth Endowed are celebrating the news of a ‘Good’ rating in its latest Ofsted report, an achievement that reflects the hard work and dedication of the entire team.
Inspectors visited the school for a two-day graded inspection at the start of the autumn term and were particularly impressed with the significant progress made since the previous report in 2018.
Headteacher, Mr Penn, has taken Bridgnorth Endowed from strength to strength during his 12 months in post and, describing it as an “aspirational environment” Ofsted gave a ‘Good’ rating across all areas.
Teaching has been a key focus and Ofsted paid tribute to the “ambitious” curriculum that had been “strengthened”. Their findings on learning also extended to the strong focus on literacy that runs throughout the school.
Observations in lessons and scrutiny of classwork showed that the school “worked effectively to improve the quality of the curriculum and pupils’ outcomes” and that “pupils focus on their learning in lessons.”
The Ofsted inspectors went on to commend Bridgnorth Endowed School for its increased extra-curricular provision as “all pupils take part in the wider activities every day which enhances their school life” and helps them “to grow beyond the academic.”
Developing the whole child is a top priority at the school and pupils benefit from a wide choice of trips, activities, performances, clubs and student leadership roles.
Commenting on the environment at Bridgnorth Endowed, the report highlights that “pupils enjoy an inclusive and aspirational environment” and “there is a calm atmosphere throughout the school day.”
Importantly, safeguarding was reported as effective and that “pupils feel safe in school” through a rigorous behaviour system where “staff take bullying seriously” and issues are addressed.
Bridgnorth Endowed’s ethos is also praised with students being “encouraged to live out the school values of kindness, trust, aspiration, resilience and respect.”
Headteacher, Mr Penn, concludes: “I am extremely proud of our pupils, their parents and our dedicated governors and members of staff who all helped Ofsted to recognise Bridgnorth Endowed School’s strengths. We are very excited about the future and continue the work to move onwards to outstanding.”
Much Wenlock Primary
A New School Year
It was lovely to welcome the children back to a new school year after the long summer break. The children and staff have returned to school refreshed and full of anticipation for the year ahead. The new Reception children all looked very smart in their new uniforms.
We also had eleven new children starting in various year groups across the school and I know that they will feel part of our community very soon.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of much Wenlock Primary School. We have planned lots of events to celebrate this special year including collaborating with Wenlock Pottery. All the children have created designs to decorate a ceramic tile to commemorate 50 years of our amazing school. The children based their design on our school motto – Unlocking Potential: Nurture, Inspire, Believe, Achieve. The aim will be to use these tiles to create a large art installation as a focal point within school. Thank you to the events team for arranging the visit.
The Year 6 children certainly got the new school year off to an adventurous start with a week-long residential visit to Arete in North Wales. We are incredibly proud of all our students here at Much Wenlock Primary School and over the week-long visit, the Year 6 continued to amaze and surprise us with their resilience, determination and attitude. We thank all of the staff at Arete Residential for spotting their potential, guiding them and pushing them during their visit.
Each class had a special visit from Emily Reeves for World Mental Health Day. The children took part in yoga and calming movements which they can put in their toolbox. There were lots of reflective activities completed throughout the day.
Building Improvements at Thomas Adams School
Throughout the summer, an extensive library refurbishment has taken place with a dividing wall being removed, doubling the space to make a larger library and learning resource centre. There are now two distinct areas; reading for pleasure and a study hub to allow students a quiet zone for revision/homework plus a ‘reading nook’ The new space allows for the hosting of meetings and training sessions. Our new full-time librarian, Tara Adamson, is now busy setting up The Royal Society book judging panel for the second year running, in conjunction with the science department. Tara says “I’m really excited to move the library forward; the reaction from students has been overwhelmingly positive and I’ve been flooded with student librarian requests”.
During the summer holidays, we have made improvements to the toilets. The old boy’s toilets have been replaced with new floor to ceiling cubicles and doors providing more privacy for girls. We have increased the number of cubicles available and have increased security reducing the opportunity for the toilets to be used as a place for social gathering. The changes have been made as a direct response to feedback received from our most recent student voice surveys. We have improved our ability to monitor the toilets therefore reducing behavioural incidents in this area.
Hodnet Primary School
Happiness Training at Hodnet
This term we have once again worked with Katie, The Happiness Trainer, as part of our Mental Health Awareness Day. All children were taught specific strategies, such as Rainbows, Balloon pop and the Glad Game. Children were also taught how to identify people around them in a trusted position to help them and a self-regulation game. We look forward to working with her again later this term.
It has been a busy term, Y6 worked with the Bikeability team to improve their road cycling skills, we have collected for the local food bank with our harvest donations, supported MacMillan with a coffee and book fair event and enjoyed a visit from the local firefighters. The Forest School Fairies have kept our youngest children very busy with weekly letters and quests.
In the coming weeks we are looking forward to our Arts Enrichment week where we are focussing on sculpture and intend to create a school tree, reflecting our tree of success and school values.
Williams Brookes School
Monday Night Cinema at the Edge
William Brookes School is at the heart of its local community and is busy this term creating new partnerships. We are currently revitalizing the offer from our Edge Arts Centre. This has included cinema nights on Mondays with attendance increasing from a handful of cinema-goers to a regular attendance of 70 plus. This weekend we have ‘Steve Harley: Come Up And See Me… And Other Stories’ taking place on Friday 20th at 7:30pm as Steve plays acoustic versions of his hits and tells other stories from his career in music. For more of our program of Arts events go to The Edge Arts Centre – Venue in Shropshire
Our Year 7 have engaged with the local Poetry festival ‘Get a Word in Edgeways’ and have been displaying their art work in the local shops. These were displayed at the festival that took place in Sunday 15th October and our painters will be receiving certificates from the Mayor of Wenlock very soon.