Stronger Together

img_0206The schools within the Minerva Learning Trust are celebrating a year of excellent results for their students.  All three primary schools have been improving year on year when it comes to the phonics test in Year 1 and are above the national average.  At KS1 there is significant improvements in Maths and Reading, and at KS2 all of the schools were significantly above the national average in either attainment or progress except in writing.   The overall results for writing in Dorset were 16% below the national average.  As writing is teacher assessed the Local Authority sets the standards for this and moderates it.  They appear to have applied the national guidance much more rigorously than other Local Authorities have done.

The Sir John Colfox Academy celebrated results that were yet again above the National average and progress scores which are in line with expectations for this year group.   At A Level the progress was also strong and all bar one of the students that applied are now studying at a University of their choice.

As a result, all of the schools in the Minerva Learning Trust would be judged to be good overall in terms of their standards and achievement.

“We are in a really strong positon” said Kay Taylor, Executive Principal of the Minerva Learning Trust.   “I am really enjoying my new role which allows me to work with four such good schools.  They are outward looking, always keen to improve and absolutely dedicated to providing the best possible experience for the children in their care”.

The Minerva Learning Trust recently had their first conference for all their staff focusing on working together to improve the quality of teaching and learning and support in their schools.

“I really do believe that the way schools can make things better for all our children is to work collaboratively rather than competitively” said Helen Farmer, Headteacher of St Mary’s School.  “There is so much talent in our schools and good practice to be shared, it is just a matter of finding the time to work together and the Minerva Learning Trust can make this happen”.

The MLT is developing innovative projects to support and improve teaching in our schools.  Working with Andy Tynemouth of Edge Hill University, the schools are involved in a yearlong project to improve the teaching of Mathematics and to imbed the new Mastery approach.  Teachers of English and Literacy are embarking on an exciting action research project focused on language and communication.  The schools are also developing their relationship with the Educational Psychologist Jeremy Side to do more in depth training on aspects of Special Educational Needs.

“Working together as four schools is really beginning to pay off,” said Burton Bradstock, Headteacher, Claire Staple.  “It is a wonderful opportunity for our staff and children, in a relatively small school, to reap the benefits of belonging to a larger organisation”.

The Edge has been a very successful programme in the Sir John Colfox Academy.  This is now being extended to the primary schools within the MLT.  Andy David, who is the Edge Ambassador for Pixl in the South West is relishing the prospect of introducing this project, which focuses on developing skills and attributes such as leadership, resilience, communication, organisation, into the primary schools.

“The development of the Minerva Learning Trust has been really exciting” said Debbie Brown, Headteacher of Bridport Primary School.  “We are particularly looking forward to using the Edge to further support what we already do to help our students become even better learners and more rounded individuals.  Good quality education is not just about tests!”

Students are already benefiting from opportunities to work together.  They are preparing for an Arts Festival in February at Freshwater and have formed a Minerva Learning Trust choir.  Free master classes for More Able students in the Primary Schools have been offered by the Sir John Colfox Academy.  The schools are also involved in work with Crystal Johnson and a local artist, Cleo Heard, on the re-development of the Literary and Scientific Institute and the Sir John Colfox Academy art leaders are working closing with the primary schools on this.   Students at the Sir John Colfox Academy also coached public speaking teams for the Youth Speaks Competition.

“It is great to see our students working together,” said David Herbert, Headteacher at The Sir John Colfox Academy. “It is good to see them developing their leadership and communication skills.  They may even become the teachers of the future!”