Table of Contents
Introduction From the CEO: David O’Toole
This Autumn term has been peppered with a wide range of activities from interesting and exciting school trips and seasonal celebrations to mock exams and assessments. Our central team has been working hard to support all our schools with the introduction of a new HR management system, bringing Bridgnorth Endowed School onto our central systems, inducting Hodnet Primary School, developing approaches to SEND and Safeguarding and further developing the strategy for school improvement. In October we successfully hosted our Trust conference at Telford International Centre with a wonderful turnout from all staff and governors from across the Trust. Having listened to the feedback from the conference, we will build on the success of this year and develop future events to take into account the desire for more workshops and greater opportunities for networking.
We are currently consulting on the development of the Trust calendar with the view to alleviate the disparity of the three school terms. Typically, Autumn term is 15 weeks, Spring term is 13 weeks and summer term is 11 weeks. We have already agreed to place PD days along side the existing October half term and we are consulting on the possibility of using two days of another holiday to make a two week break in the Autumn. At the time of writing 63% of staff have voted to extend the break, we will consider all views and concerns before making the final decision. The same consultation is taking place in neighbouring schools, Trusts and across Wales.
Following the successful introduction to coaching support for our Head Teachers and senior leaders, we are exploring further leadership development training. In the spring term we will be working with Heads Teachers to spread approaches to coaching. I am very keen that our performance management system benefits from a coaching approach and ensures we each take ownership of our personal development through reflective practice. I will share more on this as we plan the next stages of leadership development at all levels.
I am looking forward to working with everybody in the new year as we continue to build a strong, people focussed Trust. I wish you all the very best for the Christmas period.
School improvement: Claire Jones Deputy CEO
Thank you to you all for attending our first trust conference and thank you for providing us with such useful feedback. We have begun to think about next year’s event and are keen to use your feedback to make it even better. A number of you thought that a reduction to 1 keynote speaker would be a good idea for next year’s conference. This would allow more time for staff to attend extra workshops. Next year, we would also like to build in additional time for staff across schools to network together. The feedback we received regarding the workshops was really positive and I would like to thank: Adrianne Darrell, Tammy Evans, Tim Alexandra, Tim Goodman and Hannah Lester from our Trust Consultant team, for leading workshops. We will ensure that we build in your ideas when thinking ahead to next year’s conference.
In addition to CPD, my focus this term has been on developing Teaching and Learning within our schools. All schools are rolling out Research Based Lesson Studies, which allows teachers to work in small groups and plan and evaluate lessons together, focusing on one area of practice they would like to improve. We have also launched Lessons Learned across our trust. This allows all staff to log their Performance Management targets and it allows leaders to monitor Teaching and Learning and plan relevant CPD opportunities for staff. To support the development of Teaching and Learning across our trust, I am seeking to appoint 2 Teaching and Learning Consultants (one primary and one secondary focused). The advertisement has been circulated around all schools. Please contact me if this is something you are interested in applying for (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trust Growth: CFO, Duncan Wright
After what seems like an age, we were delighted to formally welcome Bridgnorth Endowed School into the Trust on 1st September after the Department for Education (DfE) finally gave the green light for the school to transfer to The 3-18 Education Trust. We are presently in the process of implementing Trust-wide systems at the school, although given our already established relationship, many of these processes are already in place.
Bowbrook Primary School officially opened back in September following a two year build project. You may not be aware but the Trust was selected to run Bowbrook following a tendering process back in 2020, and the local authority believed we were the strongest Trust in Shropshire to deliver the project. Following the school opening, the MAT Central Office team, which now consists of 13 individuals, has relocated from The Priory School to Bowbrook, and we’ve enjoyed seeing the new reception class start their learning journey!
The DfE has also approved the transfer of Hodnet Primary School to the Trust, which is fantastic news for all concerned! We are presently working with our legal teams and the DfE, with an anticipated conversion date of 1st January 2024. In the meantime the Trust will be including Hodnet Primary in many Trust-wide initiatives.
Whilst many of us managed to enjoy some downtime over the summer holidays, our Building Projects Manager and his team were busy working on a significant capital project at William Brookes School. Over a number of years health & safety concerns had been raised regarding the dangerous nature of the high-level balconies at the school. As a result of this, Tim and his team have removed the balconies and introduced partition walls. This has eliminated the risk of a fall from height and has improved the acoustics in the building. In addition, a new SEN / Pastoral Hub has been introduced on the ground floor of the school to support our most vulnerable students. We are extremely grateful to Tim and his team for all their hard work on this during the summer.
Across the rest of the Trust there were a number of other significant projects during the summer holiday period. At Priory and Thomas Adams there were toilet refurbishment projects which has significantly improved safeguarding of our students, whilst at St Martins School the sports hall floor was refurbished. At Bridgnorth Endowed School the Trust invested £20k to remove the old, dilapidated demountable classrooms that had become a health & safety issue.
There are a number of exciting projects in pipeline, with a new classroom block scheduled to be built at Thomas Adams School in 2024.
People: Laura Taylor –Director of HR
All teaching staff should have now received their pay award and backdated pay in the November payroll. For support staff, we have worked closely with Shropshire Council Payroll to ensure that your pay award and backdated pay from April are paid before Christmas and therefore for all staff, December payroll has been brought forward to 15th December, just in time to celebrate the festive season!
Support Staff CPD
Following Trust Board support to provide more investment and professional development to our Teaching Assistants across our Trust we are pleased to announce that we are able to offer a Level 3 Children & Young People’s Workforce (SEND Pathway) Diploma to our Teaching Assistants/Learning Mentors. There are currently 20 spaces available and the qualification runs over a period of 9-12 months at a time to suit you. You will have access to a dedicated tutor to support you on this journey. To find out more, please speak with your SENDCo or CPD Lead.
Update on Every
Following a pilot roll-out of Every at Thomas Adams and Much Wenlock Primary, a decision has been made to now take a staggered approach to adopt the system across this academic year where two schools will be paired up to launch the system at the same time. This will mean targeted and dedicated support for each of your schools during implementation to ensure a smooth and streamlined launch. Look out for further details of this shared in your schools.
Celebrating Success of our First Aspire Leadership
Our final day saw all delegates present their change management projects, which are adding real value and driving real improvement across our schools. Collaboration has been at the heart of this programme and all of these projects are to be shared to benefit all of our schools. We have aspirations of running this programme again in the future, so keep an eye out for details on this.
Systems and Communication – Tim Goodman, IT Director
Thank you so for the best feedback for the Microsoft 365 training session at the trust conference. We have received quite a few requests for SharePoint sites and I am really happy to see many of you staring to create some good information sites. For this if you that couldn’t make it, please get in touch with me directly if you have any questions and we can get together to create some solutions for any ideas you may have for sharing information this way. Alternatively, keep a lookout in your school’s mega menu on your staff site for a link to a form for SharePoint site requests.
The roll out of new licences is nearly complete so by the end of the year, we will all be on what is called A3 licences, meaning enhanced protection for all of our data along with some nice extra tools to use such as Planner and Bookings. Open your office account online and find then in the apps area. Click on the help to get started! Finally, please download the Microsoft Authenticator app on your personal phone or tablet to allow access to your office account from home. This will stop 99.9 percent of all email account compromises, making us one of the most secure trusts around.
Trustees and local governors have now completed their autumn term meetings. Two meetings are held in the autumn term, the first one to agree roles and responsibilities for the year and the second one is the ‘standard’ meeting. What are the ‘roles and responsibilities and a ‘standard’ meeting you may ask!
As well as agreeing on the strategic direction of the school as a body, individual local governors also have their own roles and responsibilities. The individual roles allow more in-depth discussion and governance oversight of important areas. Local governors are called link local governors for their area of responsibility. Safeguarding, finance and special educational needs and disability (SEND) are three key areas. Others include behaviour, attendance, pupil personal development, quality of education and depending on the school, early years foundation stage and sixth form, sustainability, and stakeholder engagement. To carry out the link role effectively, local governors need to understand any statutory guidance and duties, develop general knowledge of their area and be aware of their school’s improvement plans. Meetings will be held with members of the school senior leadership team to discuss trends, strengths, and opportunities to improve. The link local governor will report back on their discussions at the next local governing body meeting.
What happens at a local governing body meeting? The meeting will start with regular items of apologies, declarations of interest and approving minutes. The main discussion will be on the headteacher’s report, this covers key areas and can take up to half an hour. Link local governors will also report back on their meetings and follow up actions agreed. Time is also spent on updates on other governance activities including training. The last item of the meeting is Trust and other schools’ updates with an opportunity for local governors to provide feedback to the Trust Board on their work and make any recommendations for school or governance improvement. Two way communication between the Trust Board and local governing bodies is essential for good governance.
Hopefully this has given a flavour of the role of local governors. If you would like to know more please get in touch with myself (email@example.com) or our Governance Professional, Carole Warner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I welcomed a new trustee and governors in the last newsletter and since then 16 new local governors have taken on roles with our schools. I hope they understand I cannot name them all! I also mentioned the Governance Conference; this will be held on the morning of Saturday 20 April 2024.
Autumn term is always a very busy term for our pupils, staff, governors, and trustees. I do hope you will all have a restful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year break. 2024 will soon be with us!
Chair, Board of Trustees
Updates from our Schools
Bowbrook Primary School
The End of our First Ever Term
Incredibly our first term is coming to an end. It has been action packed and we have loved it!
As a staff, pupils and community we have achieved so much and we all feel very proud of the school that we are creating. As well as the events, trips and visitors there is a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of building a challenging curriculum where everyone reaches their potential. In the Early Years Foundation stage we are concentrating on the prime areas of: communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development and are thrilled to see the progress of the children already.
We are already showing parents around who have children starting with us in September. We are continuing to plan to grow the school one year group at a time and believe that this is enabling us to build our teaching team gradually and continue the strong relationships that we have built with our families.
The last few weeks are busy but are such exciting times for our children and the Pantomime and Nativity are special ways to finish the term off.
We are making plans for next term and will be looking at real life heroes. We will be inviting members of our community into school to talk about their roles in society. As well as this we will be having lots of fun and ensuring that we are a ‘school of opportunity’.
Head Teacher, Sam Aiston
BES Christmas Fair Hails Fundraising Success
Bridgnorth Endowed invited students, parents and members of the local community to get into the festive spirit at the school’s first ever Christmas fair held on Friday evening.
Hundreds attended and enjoyed ushering in the start of the season in the school’s magnificent Old Hall decked out with plenty of magic and sparkle.
Visitors were able to browse through stalls full of beautiful Christmas gifts, visit Santa in his grotto, enjoy refreshments and get creative with festive crafts.
Top prizes were up for grabs in the raffle and there were a whole host of fun competitions and activities for everyone to take part in throughout the evening.
Children flocked to see two very special guests in the form of Christmas reindeer, Misty and Willow, and got the chance to feed and stroke them as part of the hands-on experience.
The atmosphere was buzzing, against a backdrop of entertainment that featured student and staff solos, the school choir and a flash mob who performed a musical number from the upcoming Bridgnorth Endowed production of Oliver!
Headteacher, Mr Penn, said: “It was great to welcome everyone through our doors for a Christmas celebration to remember and I’d like to thank everyone who came along.”
“Organising the event was a team effort and I can’t thank our wonderful staff, students and parents enough for their help and donations.”
“We raised almost £2,000, which will go towards essential school projects to benefit our students and the wider community.”
Head Teacher, Michael Penn
Coleham Primary School
Autumn 2 Highlights
We have worked hard over this term to set up, open, run, change, change again, and tweak further, our nurture provision/ Alternative Provision is high on the agenda in many schools and we are trying to find our best way of supporting all those children who struggle. Our Nurture POD, led by our talented and experience HLTA, Xanne Mills, has developed steadily this term and is already showing positive outcomes for the children involved. She is ably supported by Rebecca Sampson-Jorge, Kerrie Ridgeway and Stephen Halford, as well as by Sadie Howson. Our ultimate aim is further expand the provision on offer to other children in the school who would benefit.
Nursery Rhyme Week
Reading is the cornerstone of Coleham School Practice, and this is ever-present in EYFS. Chrissi Harris and her EYFS team put together an amazing week of nursery rhymes and activities, including: visits from Old Macdonald’s farm animals; baking pat-a-cakes; a vintage Wheels On The Bus ride through town; a sing and rhyme afternoon with Mrs Porrett and even a visit from The Grand Old Duke Of York! Nursery rhymes are not only fun, but a key part of language development, so it’s great to see such wonderful activities happening.
Thanks to the excellent curricular and extra-curricualr work from Domenica Porrett, Coleham School has been one of the few primary schools to be awarded the Shropshire Music Service Music Mark for 2023-24. It represents the sustained and significant high-quality music curriculum for our pupils. At Coleham, there are plenty of opportunities for every child to play, sing and perform in a range of musical activities. Well done Domenica!
For the past week or so, I have had the pleasure of listening to various year groups rehearsing Christmassy songs about donkeys and inn-keepers through my office wall. Every Christmas is a special time in any primary school, and Coleham is no different! At the time of writing, we are in the middle of our week of performances for all our families, and this year is a special as ever! A huge thank you and well done to the teachers, TAs and of course, Mrs Porrett, for putting it all together and bringing tears to the eyes of parents and carers (and Headteachers!) We’ve also just finished recording our 4th annual Christmas staff singalong video, we hope you enjoy watching it.
Have a lovely Christmas!
Head Teacher, Tom Larkham
Hodnet Primary School
Quality Experiences - London Trip
As part of our aim to offer rich quality experiences, which open our children’s eyes and minds to the world around them, we took our Y5&6 pupils to London last week. This is an experience that we will offer very two years going forwards, previously managing this experience only once before the pandemic hit. As a culmination of our British History focus on Monarchy, which is a thread running throughout our Humanities curriculum, we visited Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London. In the Abbey the children were able to put their research into practice by actually seeing and touching the memorials to our great historical monarchs. At the Tower we were mesmerised by the Crown Jewels and completed our fact finding question trails, some of us also enjoyed a memorable tour from one of the Yeoman guards. A fantastic day, the 5am start was all worth is as we managed to see so many sights, and gave our children the opportunity to achieve many ‘firsts’. We travelled both on foot and on the underground, taking in The Mall, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, The Cenotaph and War Memorials, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and ending with a Christmassy feel in Covent Garden. The children are looking forward to sharing their experiences back at school with the other classes.
We are so proud of our children who embraced this opportunity with positive learning attitudes. Many of them hadn’t been on a train before and lots hadn’t been to London. Their behaviour was exceptional, they were a joy to be with on this journey, and they were a credit to themselves and our school.
Head Teacher, Penny Lyall
Much Wenlock Primary
The Autumn term always proves to be a busy and exciting term and this year has been no exception.
I was very proud to take a group of Year 5 children to the Old Cemetery in Much Wenlock to place crosses at the gravestones of people who have died in war. The children created and read their own poems as a mark of remembrance to all those who have given their lives in battle. It was a very moving and memorable experience.
Do you know the difference between a capture and a checkmate? Do you know a fork from a gambit? If not our KS2 children will be able to tell you after each KS2 class received a one hour session delivered by a member of the Chess Association. This was an amazing opportunity and will be followed up by the launch of our lunchtime chess club that will be run by the children. Our aspiration is to improve strategic thinking; have fun and perhaps inspire the next Grandmaster.
What a tuneful week we had. The children really enjoyed and embraced music week and produced some lovely musical pieces. I would highly recommend watching some of the videos on the website and the school Facebook Page as there are some very talented children on show. It was lovely to see some ex-pupils at William Brookes return to perform for the children. We also had a visit from our friends at Thomas Adams School – Wem. Some of their very talented students came along with their music teachers and performed with both wind and stringed instruments.
All the secondary students were great role models and have been instrumental (pun intended) in inspiring our students to want to learn to play an instrument. A huge thank you to Miss Orchard for organising this event.
We had another fantastic turnout for our parent lunches. The Year 5 children created some beautiful table decorations and they were so excited to share lunch and our wonderful school with their parents. Thank you to Karen and the rest of our kitchen team for providing us with a great menu each week.
Our wonderful choir have been out and about putting on great performances for the residents of Much Wenlock in the run up to Christmas.
Head Teacher, Carl Litchfield
The Priory School
GCHQ National Language Competition 2023
Over two days in November, Year 9 enjoyed time dedicated to finding out about GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence, security and cyber agency. Students learnt why languages such as Arabic, Russian and Mandarin are so important to GCHQ and how it is possible to learn these languages from scratch at university if you have studied French or Spanish at GCSE and A Level. They learnt new information such as how globally Mandarin has the largest amount of native speakers, Russia is spread over one-seventh of the earth and Arabic is an official language in 22 countries around the world.
Students then experimented with these new (and tricky!) languages, learning some sounds, vocabulary and phrases. Finally, they all took part online in the GCHQ National Languages Competition 2023, which focused on code breaking and pattern spotting to give them a taste of what it might be like to work at GCHQ intercepting and interpreting a variety of coded information. The winners will get a very rare opportunity to have a look around the GCHQ Headquarters in Cheltenham so we are keeping our fingers crossed!
Well done to all Year 9 students.
Head Teacher, Alison Pope
St Martins 3-16 School
Careers, Remembrance and a Prom Catwalk
The return of our successful careers fair saw over 23 companies and organisations speak with our year 9, 10 and 11 students about careers and post 16 opportunities. This annual event helps to showcase some of the great careers that are literally on our doorstep.
Well done to all the students who supported the village on Remembrance Day particularly the Cadets and the choir. They were all fantastic ambassadors for the school.
The wait was finally over……RUNWAY 318 hit the catwalk with over 200 prom dresses and suits on display. Many of our students overcame nerves and rocked the catwalk in front of a sell-out audience. The aim was to show our community that going to the prom doesn’t have to be expensive, with prices starting at £10.
Head Teacher, Sue Lovecy
Back to the 80’s Production
From 24th – 26th October, Thomas Adams took a pop culture trip down memory lane with the school production of ‘Back to the 80’s’. Set in the USA, the story tells of the senior class of William Ocean High School as remembered by Corey Palmer when they graduated in the 80’s, who is now aged 30-something. The show featured some popular 80’s hits such as, Footloose, Man in the Mirror, Kids in America and many more! The performances were a huge success, with great music and classic references to the 80’s era.
On Friday 24th November, we opened our doors to the local community with our popular Christmas Fayre. We had lots of festive stalls, a Father Christmas grotto, school choir performances, hot turkey baps, raffles and much more, raising a total of over £2000. Thank you to our students and staff for making the evening a success and also to Wem Co-op and Botanic Health and Beauty for sponsoring the event.
Head Teacher, Mark Cooper
Williams Brookes School
Recycling, Art and a Prison Trip
Students and staff have worked to create a Christmas tree to be included in this year’s Festival of Trees at Much Wenlock Church. The tree has been made from materials that would otherwise have been discarded or recycled including wood off-cuts from Product Design, old paint and unwanted Christmas decorations. As such it has caused zero impact to our environment.
Some of our GCSE Art students have embraced the opportunity to take part in an Intaglio printing workshop with our subject specialist TA Mrs Ali, who is a professional artist and printer. Students worked from their own photograph to engrave a plate and print using a range of colours to produce a high standard of work that will contribute to their Art Coursework Unit.
Our Headteacher and two other members of the Leadership team along with Marie Aston our ELSA, recently spent a night incarcerated in HM Shrewsbury Prison with Year 11 Psychology and Sixth Form Criminologists and Psychologists. After an escape room experience, the students participated in a tour of the prison and spent the night ‘banged up’ in their unheated cells. All students ‘promised to be good’ and were paroled for their good behaviour.
William Brookes School will be planning their garden design for next year’s Shrewsbury Flower Show, at the start of next term. Students won a Show President’s award at this year’s show. If you would like further details about how to enter your school, please email email@example.com