Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dear All,

During 2016 and 2017 we have seen significant change; Britain voted to leave the European Union. Donald Trump gained victory in the US presidential election. Some of our best loved celebrities and music legends have died – Prince, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and the world has been subject to a stream of deadly terrorist activity.

Change invariably brings with it a period of uncertainty. Educational policy, pace and direction of travel is no exception. We have seen White Papers come and go, Ministers change hands and national manifesto pledges disappear into thin air; however one thing remains certain; a continuation of Local Authority budget cuts. This reduced departmental capacity to deliver effective challenge and support for school is exacerbated by a drive to establish a system where schools support and deliver improvement programmes for themselves.

It is therefore, becoming increasingly important for our city schools to work together on a whole range of projects and activities at a time when the national educational landscape continues to change, when expectations placed on our children and teachers have never been higher and at a time when school resources face unprecedented challenges.

In order to continue to challenge, support and secure the necessary improvements in our schools, Head Teachers, council officers, Council senior leaders, Councillors, and Schools, have spent the last 12 months developing the Nottingham Schools Trust (NST) proposal. Put simply, we intend to launch a charitable company (Nottingham Schools Trust) on the 1st September whose key purpose is to deliver school improvement to its member schools and over time develop a business arm that will increase efficiencies to mitigate any school level budget cuts.

From its inception this has been a complex and challenging piece of work brought about by necessity. However, we are pleased to be able to announce that we now have 30 maintained schools (including special schools) and two stand alone academies signing up to a five year commitment which is quite remarkable. Schools and academies signing up to the Trust will remain closely aligned to the City Council which brings a much greater sense of stability and the opportunity to set more meaningful medium and long term plans.

It is worth noting that NST is not an Academy Trust but a company limited by guarantee and with charitable status. It will be a Trust run by and for our schools where every school has a voice in the decision making process. More importantly, it is unlikely that our parents, carers or pupils will notice any significant change to the way our schools work as the Trust values the diversity which exists in each of our schools and actively encourages each member school to maintain and further develop its own distinctive culture and identity. Leadership and Governance responsibilities and accountabilities remain firmly with the individual school and the council's statutory duties remain firmly with the council.

At the centre of the Trust sits a lean Core Team. Each Member school has nominated a representative and together with a Member elected Board of Trustees will challenge and support the CEO to ensure the NST fulfils its ambitions on behalf of our children and families.

Following a recent recruitment process, We were appointed to the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). We will also continue as Joint Head Teachers at Haydn Primary school. Whilst we are very excited at the prospect of establishing the Trust, sadly, we will be leaving our post as Directors of Education for Nottingham City as of September 1st.

The Trust will focus on what for us is fundamentally important if we are to see city children well prepared for the next phase in their educational journey. Member schools have designed an organisation that is prepared to make and act upon difficult decisions. We will continue to work closely with the full range of council departments.

In the midst of a rapidly changing and terrifically complex educational environment we never cease to be amazed by the resilience, innovation and drive that you all  demonstrate on a daily basis-ensuring that every child and student is encouraged and enabled to reach their potential. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your endeavours. In particular we would like to thank Alison Michalksa, Senior Officers and Councillors for having the confidence to appoint us, as a job share, to the post some three years ago. It has been a privilege and an altogether enlightening  opportunity for us. We would also like to thank Alistair Conquer and Nick Lee (Heads of Service) for their constant guidance and support. The department remains very safe in their hands. We have thoroughly enjoyed the last three years and look forward to the next chapter in the journey for our schools in Nottingham.

Thank you

Pat and Sarah