Spring 1 Newsletter 2024

Table of Contents

Introduction From the CEO: David O’Toole

School improvement: Claire Jones Deputy CEO

Developing our trust CPD offer is a key focus for us moving forward.   With this in mind, a number of our Trust Consultants are currently working on writing some CPD programmes to support all schools to develop in the following key areas: SEND, Teaching and Learning, Restorative Practice and Staff Wellbeing.  Feedback from all schools will be sought via our network meetings prior to creating these training sessions in order to ensure they are bespoke and tailored to suit the needs of our schools.  Developing all our staff will remain a key focus for us and we would like to use systems, such as SharePoint, to ensure that our training is accessible to all staff across the trust.

This term, our Trust Consultancy Team has grown considerably.  We have appointed 3 Teaching and Learning Consultants: Tom McAleavy, Cal Knight and Rachel Howell-James.

Rachel Howell-James

Teaching and Learning Consultant

Tom McAleavy

Teaching and Learning

Cal Knight

Teaching and Learning Consultant

All 3 consultants are currently Deputy Head teachers within our schools and will continue in their substantive roles alongside this new opportunity.  This means that they all have a great deal of experience leading the Quality of Education within their own settings.  Not only will they be able to provide bespoke support to further develop teaching and learning within schools, but they will also be able to create a shared vision for Teaching and Learning across our trust and develop high quality CPD, which can be rolled out to all schools.  

If you would like to learn more about our Talent Pool, please watch the video below.

People: Laura Taylor –Director of HR

Support Staff CPD

We are proud to announce that 12 Teaching Assistants from across our Trust schools are being supported to complete their Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma.

This is a great opportunity for the TA’s to enhance their professional development and support their career pathways. The diploma will provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to support our students further and we are thrilled to see our TA’s grow and develop in their roles.

Employment Terms and Contracts of Employment

We wish to inform you of an important update regarding our Employment Terms and Contracts of Employment.

Recently, we undertook a comprehensive review of these documents, engaging the expertise of an external legal advisor to ensure that they align with current legislation. This proactive step reflects our commitment to maintaining high standards and compliance.

All of our recognised trade unions have been notified of this review, and we will maintain open and ongoing communication with them throughout this period.

Please be reassured that any changes remain in strict accordance with School Teacher Pay and Conditions (STPCD) and National Joint Council (NJC) guidelines and are statutory requirements to ensure compliance.

During the summer term, revised employment terms will be sent out for your careful review. We encourage you to take the time to familiarise yourself with any changes and, if you find it necessary, seek any clarifications via your School Business Manager in the first instance.

Systems and Communication – Tim Goodman, IT Director

January included a day for all IT staff to get together from across the Trust. We were joined by Gavin Morgan and Katie Hunt from Skunkworks-IT, who, between them, coordinate projects between us and keeps all our lines and servers and networks alive! We discussed the post migration effect on IT use and operations within our schools, our ticketing systems, how well it has been used by staff and the future of raising IT support requests easier in various ways. We chatted about the flow of staff work and permissions in SharePoint and the importance of getting Exams officers and SENDCos together to direct exam preparation with IT well in advance of the exam seasons. I could go on but the day was full of fun tech talk and food and coffee! Thank you to all of the staff for attending and thanks to the schools for releasing your teams to chat to their opposite numbers in other schools in the Trust.

We will all be getting together a few times a year from now on and have a shared space for us all to chat online. If you would like us to consider some issues which you think could affect staff in all other schools, please let your on-site IT team know and we will all get our heads together for solutions.

Finance, Estates & Sustainable Growth: CFO, Duncan Wright

Hodnet Primary School

We’re delighted to share the news that Hodnet Primary School will officially become part of the Trust on 1st February 2024. This follows a significant amount of work with our legal team, the Department for Education (DfE) and the local authority to get this over the line to meet our intended target date. Whilst the school will see some minor changes from 1st Feb, it will very much be business as usual as the school continues with its good work.

Capital Funding

We will shortly be notified of our School Condition Allocation (SCA) amount for the 2024-25 financial year. This fund (approximately £1m) has supported many capital projects across the Trust in the last 2 years. Over the Autumn term your Business Manager has been busy compiling the school’s capital development plan as part of a bid for funding from this budget. Each project is reviewed, assessed and marked based on condition and need by the MAT Executive Team before a recommendation is made to the Board. Those successful projects will be notified just before Easter with a number of projects taking place during the relative quiet of the summer holidays. If there is a project you feel particularly passionate about at your school then please notify your Business Manager or Headteacher. Whilst the majority of the funding is to support the infrastructure of the school buildings, we do like to commission wish list projects too.

Governance News

After a very busy autumn term, trustees and local governors have used this half term to visit schools and hold meetings with school leaders.

Earlier in January, the Trust held its Annual General Meeting.  This meeting’s purpose is to update the Trust’s members on how we have performed over the last year.  Academy trusts are set up as charitable companies and so must have members. Members have a have a similar role to shareholders of a company limited by shares. They hold the trust board to account for the effective governance of the trust but have minimal involvement in the day to day running of the Trust.  Our Trust has 5 members, and most have been involved with the Trust since its start. Some members have long associations with the Trust being governors of Trust schools before they became academies.  We are privileged to have such dedicated members and thank them for their continued support.

It was a very enjoyable meeting with members, trustees, and representatives from 6 schools attending.  The meeting included a review of the Trust’s last financial year, governance over the last calendar year and governance plans for the future.  Members were able to ask questions and recognised the tremendous work being put in by our pupils, staff, local governors, and trustees to make the Trust a fantastic environment to learn and work.

Trustees have welcomed Hodnet governors to the Trust on 1 February and they will be supported in their transition in being part of our Trust governing team over the next few months.

I am very pleased to report that the Governance Support Team has been successful in recruiting 2 support administrators, Diane and Vicky, this term.  They will bring much needed support for Carole and Lynn.  Diane and Vicky will be working through their induction and meeting members of the Trust community early next half term.  We all wish them well in their new roles.

Gary Turner

Chair, Board of Trustees

Updates from our Schools


Bowbrook Primary School

Growing Quickly

Whilst still the smallest of the schools in our Trust, Bowbrook is growing quickly and we are already over subscribed for our Reception class, September 2024. Our Nursery has quadrupled in size since before Christmas and we currently have a waiting list. This is due to the hard work of our staff and the reputation we have built. As a result we have recruited some more support staff and will shortly be looking to recruit a Year 1 teacher for next year. The increase in size does not mean any change in our ethos and culture. We continue to be a school of opportunity and our children have had some wonderful experiences this term from Forest school trips to Grandparent’s Tea party to weekly visits from a therapy dog!

We are passionate about being a central part of the developing community around us. Our theme has been: Heroes in the Community which fits in with the Early Years’ programme of Understanding the World. Our visitors have been inspirational to the children and have included Search and Rescue, the Fire service, the Police, doctors, nurses and a helicopter pilot. We have also visited our local café and chatted with a range of people who contribute to the area we live in. We have also travelled further afield and visited Think Tank Science Museum in Birmingham which prompted us to create Mini Bowbrook, a role play area in one of our classrooms that children can work on their communication and language skills. We have also introduced weekly yoga sessions and continue to offer a range of after school activities including football and dance.

In our quest to offer the best education possible, we have had numerous visits and discussions from a range of Early Years experts where we have discussed best practice and some of the latest research. Our curriculum is continually being reviewed and improved as we look to follow the children’s interests to make sure our pupils are engaged and their learning is maximised.

Head Teacher, Sam Aiston

Bridgnorth Endowed

Bridgnorth Endowed Logo
Formula 1 Rewards Trip Brings STEM to Life

As rewards trips go, last week’s Bridgnorth Endowed visit to Williams Racing – the home to one of Formula 1’s most iconic teams – was amongst one of the most exciting.

Selected by their Heads of House, 40 lucky students from Years 7 to 9 got the chance to see behind the scenes of the legendary race team’s headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire and take part in a STEM enrichment experience to remember.

The first stop of the day was at the Esports Lounge, where students were soon able to feel the buzz of a Formula 1 race and put their racing skills to the test behind the wheel of state-of-the-art simulators.

Nathan Roberts, from 10SC, and Quinn Hickie, from 7VE, were both hailed as champions, winning two out of their three races. Slower, more cautious ‘drivers’ were also able to show-off their talents as one of the rounds involved the careful navigation of Monaco’s infamous street circuit in wet conditions.

Following the adrenaline rush of the virtual race track experience, the students stepped back in time to immerse themselves in the rich history of Williams Grand Prix engineering with a tour of the Heritage Museum.

They discovered a treasure trove of iconic racing cars, legendary drivers’ memorabilia, and interactive exhibits that brought the excitement of motorsports to life. From vintage classics to modern marvels, the museum plotted the evolution of F1 through technological advancements and unforgettable moments that shaped the sport.

After a quick pit-stop to refuel, the students then took on the Williams STEM Lego Mindstorms EV3 team activity, which involved programming a robot, developing a brand and presenting their project to the group.

Team “Formula No 1” were victorious as they were the first to ensure their robot could complete a circuit of Silverstone. Henry Griffin, Ben Hirsch, Emily Sanderson, Harrison Hakeman and Oliver Winborn showed all the skills of a great pit-crew and pulled together to win first place and a limited edition Williams team baseball cap.

Head of Maths and trip organiser, Mr Hughes, said: “The Formula 1 rewards trip was a great success and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.”

“The Williams Experience Centre was very impressive and offered our younger students an immersive and engaging way to see STEM in action and spark their interest in considering a future career in this area.”

Head Teacher, Michael Penn

Coleham Primary School

Coleham Primary School Logo
Rich Cultural Experiences

Already nearly half-way through the year, we’ve had a very busy time at Coleham! 

International Day

As part of our commitment to provided our children with rich cultural experiences, we held a very successful International Day this term, co-ordinated by our MFL teacher, Madame Jones.  Every class from EYFS to Year 6 took part in activities related to a specific country for each class, and children were invited to come dressed in traditional costumes or colours of a chosen country.  Many of our children with international links were able to showcase and celebrate their own unique cultures with the rest of the school.

To help bring our community together further, we had a number of guest speaker parents and family members come in to classes to speak to children about their home countries.  We had family members in from Poland, Ukraine, Ecuador, USA, Italy to name a few.  Also, instead of French lessons, Madame Jones become Brigitta and taught German!

To finish the day, we had an International Food Fair for children to sample foods from all over the world.  Many of our families brought in home-made food and we invited everyone in to the hall after school – there wasn’t much room and not a lot of food was left!

It means so much to the children to be able to celebrate diversity and show them that there is a greater world out there beyond Shrewsbury – and it’s always wonderful to see our school community come together like that.

Head Teacher, Tom Larkham

Hodnet Primary School

Hodnet Primary School logo roundel trps
Recognised for Great Work in Phonics

The school received the letter (below) from Damian Hinds, Minister for Schools.

Hodnet Primary school has been recognised as being in the top 1% of schools in the country due to 100% of the year one pupils achieving the expected standard in Phonics in June 2023. 

“We are so proud of the children at Hodnet, and we are pleased that their achievement in phonics has been recognised. Mastering phonics is so important to enable children to effectively and confidently decode words, which allows them to become fluent readers. At Hodnet, we value reading as a life skill and by ensuring children are confident readers, we are able to give them access to a wide and enriching curriculum”. Mrs Laura Bessant, Phonics lead.

“We are extremely proud to receive this recognition of our school achievements in Phonics and Early Reading. We have an incredibly dedicated and highly skilled staff team at Hodnet, who ensure that they are supporting our children to achieve their potential. Our children are not just hardworking diligent, but they have a real thirst for learning and a positive attitude, and as a result they have excelled in phonics and early reading. We are very proud of them, and they should feel very proud of themselves”.

Mrs Penny Lyall, Headteacher.

Head Teacher, Penny Lyall

Much Wenlock Primary

Much Wenlock Primary School Logo
Returning from the festive break

All the staff were excited to have the children back in school, ready to take on new challenges and continue their educational journey. It is always lovely to hear the children’s stories about their experiences over the festive period. The children always return refreshed and ready to continue their learning journey.

Year 4 Science

The children in Year 4 got straight into their new science topic, describing the simple functions of the human digestive system. They started off by breaking up some food, simulating the action of chewing before washing it down with a glass of orange juice into a model stomach (the plastic bag was a perfect). The children then acted as the muscles to aid in the digestion of food in the stomach.

Cookery Club

Staying on the subject of food, we have launched a very popular after school cookery club. Not only do the children learn how to safely prepare their ingredients, but they also learn the importance of being safe in the kitchen and how to clean up after themselves, from washing up to sweeping and cleaning their equipment. One of the favourite recipies so far was the “tasty toasties.” Needless to say there was plenty of interest from the staff that week too.

Big Garden Birdwatch

On Friday 26th January  the school took part in the launch of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. The children in Reception class got busy making birdfeeders to help keep the birds well fed before patiently observing and recording a wide range of different types of birds.

The school has also received a fantastic donation of birdfeeders and bird food from CJ Wildlife.

Nursery Writing

At Much Wenlock Primary School we have our own school Nursery. The Nursery provides a fun and creative learning experience for children aged two years old upwards and is lead by a qualified teacher. This early start to a child’s education helps build their communication, language and emotional development which provides the foundations for wider learning and later educational success.

Chester Zoo

We were very fortunate to be provided with free tickets for all the children in Year 2 and Year 3. They had a fantastic day out at the zoo with the orangutangs proving to be a firm favourite.

Head Teacher, Carl Litchfield

The Priory School

Priory School Logo
Sporting Success for Girls

The year 7 girls football team have had a very successful term, they have won all their matches. 

They are into the 5th round of the English Schools PlayStation Cup after beating Bridgenorth 3-0 on Wednesday.

They will travel to Wigan on the 16th January to represent Shrewsbury Town in the U13 EFL Cup 

Head Teacher, Alison Pope

St Martins 3-16 School

A Panto, Rewards, Medals and Tractors!

Thank you to all the students, parents, carers and staff who attended our recent show and panto. I’m sure everyone will agree that it showcased some great talent and was very entertaining! These shows couldn’t go ahead without students and staff who give up their time, so a huge thankyou  to you. Special thanks go to Mr Riley who stepped in at the last minute to play the fairy godmother and  Lucy Harris and  Kaitlyn Marie – Jones  from year 9 drama  – I think you have a career opportunity ahead of you!!

House Champions Rewarded

In recognition of their hard work and dedication, our house champions were rewarded with an afternoon at Chirk castle ! They delved into the depths of the dungeons, and roamed around the beautifully decorated castle. They finished with a sweet treat and a hot chocolate at the café, and a wander around the gift and book shops. It was a very Christmassy celebration of our wonderful young people who have proved to be fantastic ambassadors for our school .

We celebrate success and achievement of students in and out of school and are delighted to report that St Martins School was well represented at the Oswestry Olympians first cross country race of the year. Both Erin Woolcock and Hannah Newman braved the very muddy course at Attingham Park. Erin  came third in the under 15 girls event and Hannah came 15th in the under 13 girls event and was part of the under 13 girls team that won a bronze medal Brilliant results!

As well as making and selling Christmas cards Steven Evans Hughes took part in the Christmas illuminated tractor run in both Oswestry and Welshpool. It was a brilliant weekend, and Steven really enjoyed decorating the tractor, and continuing his fundraising for Lingen Davies charity

Head Teacher, Sue Lovecy

Thomas Adams

Sporting success at Thomas Adams School
U12 Boy’s Football – North Shropshire Champions!

On Monday 15th January, our U12 Boys Football team won the North Shropshire 6-a-side Football Tournament. The boys won all of their group stage games; they then went on to win through penalties in the semi-final before winning in the final. All the boys played incredibly well and worked together as a team; they didn’t concede a goal in normal game time throughout the tournament. Congratulations!

U13 Boys Handball

On Thursday 18th January, the U13 Boys Handball team competed in the England Handball Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin tournament. The boys won both of their fixtures, 20-5 and 21-8. The boys who played showed great determination with a strong defence and some exciting fast-paced attack leading to plenty of goals. They will now go on to represent the county in the next round of the tournament. Well done!

Head Teacher, Mark Cooper

Williams Brookes School

Nimble Teaching, Garden Designs and Sixth Form Mocks

At William Brookes our main area for development for Teaching and Learning has been ‘Live assessment’ or ‘nimble teaching’, building a repertoire of ways of gathering assessment information quickly and using this to plan the next episodes of teaching.  Our Maths department have hosted Craig Barton (aka Mr Barton Maths) and have taken use of whiteboards to new levels and this is already having a significant impact on students’ learning.

William Brookes School gardening students have just finalised their design for the garden they will be building at this year’s Shrewsbury Flower Show. The garden is called ‘Spectrum’ and is based on the optical discoveries of Isaac Newton. Our gardeners will be competing this year in an adult / senior competition called ‘The Long Border’. Judged by a celebrity gardener and the Shropshire Horticultural Society, our students are hoping to match their success last year when they won a SHS Presidential trophy for a garden of outstanding quality.  If you would like to know more about entries to the Shrewsbury Flower Show then please contact Mark.jones@wbs.318education.co.uk



Our Netballers enjoyed a very good run just prior to the Christmas break.  Mrs Jardine, Head of PE reports that ‘our U19 county Netball plate winners were unbeaten in the whole tournament and played some great netball to lift the trophy.  Our U16’s are South Shropshire and Telford schools Champions and ended up third in the County tournament.  They were unlucky to lose in the semi-final and really should have won the whole tournament, they were the best team there!  Our U12’s are South Shropshire Champions, these are a really promising team and I look forward to seeing them develop over the next five years’.

30th January saw our Year 13 sixth formers take this mock interviews.  The buzz and atmosphere was fantastic in studio 1 as our army of interviewers put our students on the spot. Students enjoyed the experience, and our visitors were impressed and spoke how they were impressed with our students’ clear vision for their next steps and how they would be  getting there!!

Head Teacher, Stephen Richards
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