School Improvement Strategy

Context

Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust (LAAT) is a multi-academy trust formed by the Diocese of Lincoln in October 2013. In September 2018, the Trust will have grown to 14 primary schools, one secondary school and a central team led by CEO, Jackie Waters-Dewhurst. The schools are located across the Diocese of Lincoln in the three local authorities, Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The schools vary in size with the smallest being Weston St Mary with about 35 pupils on roll. Most schools in the LAAT are considered to be smaller than the national average and most are in rural locations. There are currently about 2600 pupils in the LAAT. The schools entered LAAT representing full spectrum of OfSTED judgements from Special Measures to Outstanding.

Our Vision and Aims

The vision for Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust is for its schools to serve their communities through excellence, exploration and encouragement within the love of God.

Taking strength, purpose and motivation from the belief that every child should be enabled to be all that God intends, LAAT aims to:

  • Transform the chances of individual pupils
  • Use the collective strength within the Trust and other schools in the Diocese of Lincoln
  • Be fully inclusive to all
  • To support and develop all staff to be the best that they can be
  • Be sustainable through the expertise within the organisation, through partnership with our current good or better schools and external partners
  • Bring strength, motivation and purpose through the belief that every child should be enabled to be all that God intended
  • Be distinctive and unique in character relevant to the context
  • To realise this vision and achieve these aims, school improvement must be at the core of what the Trust does.

The aspirational and measurable outcomes of LAAT are:

  • All teaching to be good or better
  • Every child to feel (and be) safe
  • Every child to make at least the nationally expected levels of progress
  • Every child to be prepared for their future lives and their place in community
  • Every Academy to be well led and governed
  • All teachers motivated to self-improve and aspire to excellence
  • All church academies to be judged good or better in the SIAMS Inspections

Education due diligence

Before a school enters the LAAT, the Trust undertakes a range of due diligence activities to get a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development in terms of pupil outcomes, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, pupil behaviour, welfare and safety and leadership. Diligence activities include a review of external reports such as inspection reports, performance data, the current SDP and SEF. Discussions are held with senior leaders and governors around key priorities for development and there are joint monitoring activities such as a learning walks, lesson observations and a scrutiny of pupils’ work. A signature of risk form is completed. It is through these due diligence activities, the LAAT is able to determine the level of risk evident and the type of support required to improve pupil outcomes and achieve the LAAT vision for its academies.

Directors are aware that schools must enter in a way that strengthens the whole. Therefore there are schools that have not been put forward to the HTB as LAAT due diligence has shown that there are issues within the school (these could be matters of finance, pupil projections or standards) that LAAT is not, as yet, in a position to address. Directors prioritise those schools which can provide support for hubs.

A multi-faceted and ‘connected’ approach to school improvement

A strong infrastructure for school improvement is essential for delivering excellent outcomes for pupils. At the core of this infrastructure is a hub model which enables schools to work closely together to address key priorities innovatively using the expertise that exists within and beyond the hub. The hub model will enable:

  • The academies to have a shared ambition to support and challenge each other resulting in a consistent drive to improve pupil outcomes.
  • Opportunities for effective staff to have impact beyond their own school.
  • Staff within hubs to receive a broad range of continuous professional development (CPD) from within and beyond the hub. High quality external CPD which was not affordable for individual schools is accessible for schools within hubs as they are able to share costs.
  • Academies to use the LAAT School Effectiveness Advisers’ knowledge of where best practice exists so they can assimilate this information into the hub activity schedule.
  • Academies to work together on shared priorities within hubs but the hub model will not restrict academies to work in other networks such as teaching school alliances and collaborative partnerships.
  • Academies to work openly, honestly and generously with each other sharing good practice as well as concerns for the sole purpose of providing the very best education for all pupils in LAAT
  • A more flexible staffing structure to be developed across the Trust (e.g. SENCos,  business managers etc working across the hubs)

How LAAT drives the hub model

It is important that schools do not receive a ‘scattergun’ and disjointed approach to school improvement which has no sustainable impact of standards. LAAT drives the hub model by ensuring it is securely connected to the other school improvement strategies operating across the Trust. LAAT academies have access to an extensive range of school improvement strategies. These are carefully deployed to meet the priorities of the Trust and the needs of the individual schools. The LAAT has identified five key priorities for the Trust in 2018 to 2019 which are:

  • Improving teaching and learning
  • Reducing absence
  • Developing and embedding vision and values
  • Improving the quality of RE
  • Developing governance

These priorities (derived from pupil outcomes and monitoring activities) are explicit in school development plans and underpin the school’s areas for development, as well as meeting regional priorities.

The LAAT QA visits which take place in every academy at least six times a year provides LAAT and academies with an agreed, comprehensive and up to date picture of strengths and areas for development for school performance. Evidence from the QA visits continually drives school improvement within hubs.

LAAT officers lead all headteacher performance management reviews with Local Board members. Sharp and precise targets for the headteacher are agreed to drive school improvement and support professional development. The headteachers, governors and LAAT agree that a key vehicle for achieving Performance Management targets is the hub model. Headteachers are motivated and committed to make the hub activities a success because their performance management is linked to it.

The LAAT ‘Signatures of Risk’ evaluation and ‘Academy Discussion’ which take place three times a year also drives the hub activities. LAAT and schools will assess the risks in all aspects of school life including Finance, Premises, HR, education and community relations.  Strengths to celebrate will be identified in each academy as will areas of risk and future barriers to development. Local Boards receiving the ‘academy discussion’ report will see how the hub model will enable them to share good practice and address areas for development.

LAAT School Effectiveness Advisers (SEAs) are assigned to a hub and they have a clear set of responsibilities for driving the hub activities.

The LAAT Headteacher Development Days take place every half term in Lincoln. These days include excellent opportunities for the SEAs to meet with the school leaders from their assigned hubs and to review progress agree future actions (in accordance to the hub activity schedule). There are also opportunities for different hubs to ‘cross-fertilise’ ideas and share good practice with each other. As well as the hub review sessions, a HT development day would provide opportunities for professional development, headteachers to share good practice, receive LAAT updates and engage in specialist workshops or presentations.

For 2018-2019, LAAT has identified that pupil outcomes in Maths and Literacy needs to improve across the Trust and so has arranged for Maths Specialist Adviser, Jenny Cook (NECTM accredited) and Literacy Specialist Adviser, Dr Jeannie Bulman to provide schools with central training days throughout the year which will be a driver for hub activities in these subjects. The following diagram illustrates how LAAT drives hubs within the school improvement infrastructure.

Hub formation

Currently in LAAT, there are three main hubs for the primary schools. They are as follows:

For the only secondary school in the trust, LAAT has enabled it to receive a comprehensive package of support and challenge from other successful secondary school leaders. LAAT has appointed a Secondary School Effectiveness Adviser and he will lead the delivery of this improvement programme for the academy.  The SEA is also Chair of the Local Board. The school is also part of the Boston Project.

The hubs have been formed primarily around the location of schools although there needs to be flexibility in the structure to allow schools to participate in projects led by other hubs where this is a school improvement need.  The hubs also need a degree of flexibility to allow pending and new academies to take immediate advantage of working in hubs or to immediately provide support to existing hubs. New schools in hubs will have something to contribute as well as something to gain from the hub model. To ensure consistency, accountability and stability in the hub, LAAT has allocated a School Effectiveness Adviser to drive the hub work, evaluate it and hold schools to account.

The role of the School Effectiveness Adviser leading hubs is to:

  • Use a range of information (e.g. data, inspection reports, QA visit records) to identify strengths and capacity within hub schools and elsewhere that can be shared within the hub.
  • Challenge schools in the identification of needs and support them to engage in school improvement strategies to improve pupil outcomes.
  • Support the school leaders to develop a cohesive and clear hub activity schedule that will address shared priorities.
  • Ensure clarity of purpose, agreed responsibility and agreed timescales - holding school leaders to account.
  • Convene hub meetings with school leaders once every half term to review the success of hub activities. The SEAs will challenge and support leaders to make improvements at a rapid but sustainable pace.
  • Support practitioners who are delivering CPD as part of the hub activity plan.
  • Look for impact of hub activities during QA visits and other school based monitoring activities.
  • Evaluate impact of hub developments through the QA visits and Academy Discussions and report to Local Boards so that they are well informed to hold leaders to account.
  • Take shared responsibility for the success of the hub plans and report progress to the Director of School Improvement.
  • Support the induction of new academies into the hubs.

The Director of School Improvement ensures the hub model is effective by:

  • Communicating clear aims for the hub model to SEAs and academy leaders.
  • Ensuring all academies are included in the most appropriate hub.
  • Providing clear and consistent expectations for the format and detail required in hub plans.
  • Ensuring that SEAs are effectively monitoring, supporting and challenging the work in hubs.
  • Providing specific LAAT CPD programmes to drive the school improvement in schools and across the hubs E.g. Maths and Literacy Programmes.
  • Broker additional support for hubs e.g. from teaching schools and specialist advisers such as Jenny Cook (Maths) and Dr Jeannie Bulman (Literacy) if internal expertise is not able to meet the needs of the hub.
  • Working in partnership with teaching schools to access funding / resources that may become available for school improvement.
  • Ensuring that the Hub model is securely connected to the whole LAAT school improvement strategy. For example, the QA visits, Performance
  • Management, Academy Discussions and the hub activity schedule must ‘talk’ to each other and provide a cohesive programme of school improvement for all academies within LAAT.
  • Reporting the success of the hub activities to LAAT directors and other stakeholders in terms of their impact in improving pupils’ outcomes.

Hub development plans for 2017 – 2018

School Effectiveness Advisers worked with schools to identify strengths and areas for improvement as part of the rigorous QA visit programme. Following the QA visits, school leaders from each of these hubs worked together with their SEA lead to formulate their hub development priorities for this academic year. The school leaders and SEAs in each hub shared a breadth of evidence including 2017 data, QA reports and inspection reports to identify common strengths and areas for development. This enabled school leaders to identify what the key priorities for their hub development plan should be and the strategies they needed to work on together to improve standards.

School to School Support in Hubs

A good example of LAAT empowering school to school support is when two schools formed the South East hub in 2017-18. One school was judged to be inadequate by OfSTED in July 2017. Before this inspection, LAAT had introduced a comprehensive package of support including the secondment of an Executive Headteacher and Head of School from a nearby ‘partner’ school. The partnership between these two schools has intensified over the year and it looks more like a federation now. There is shared leadership with the Executive Headteacher and Head of School in substantive posts at the school in need, a business manager working across both schools and there are governors from the partner school providing support and challenge to school leaders on the school’s Interim Local Board. LAAT SEA, Yvonne Shaw is providing practical school improvement support for leaders, such as jointly monitoring of teaching and learning with school leaders. She is also providing support and challenge to leaders and holding them to account for performance through the QA process. The Director of School Improvement is undertaking termly academy discussions to help the school overcome any potential barriers for future development.

The detailed Post OfSTED Actions Plans (POAPS) for the school shows the incredible amount of school to school support from the partner school as does the hub development plans. The HMI visit report affirms the school to school support in the hub

‘Staff from the partner school are adding capacity to the leadership team in the form of shared subject responsibilities, as well as planning together and sharing good practice. Headteachers from across the trust meet regularly to support each other and to share practice.’ (HMI May 2018)*

For 2018-19, school leaders from these two schools are keen to develop and extend their school to school activities by joining with more schools. They are now part of the South hub. The executive head will mentor a new head in the hub this year and the business manager will support a school in the hub with its finances.

Another example of school to school support is when the EYFS leader who led on developing Early Years provision in the north hub.  In line with the north hub plan, she led on a number of initiatives, including leading worshops, hosting school visits and developing assessment.  The impact of this work is evident in in end of year data for other schools in the hub.

Hub Activity Schedule for 2018 – 2019

At the start of the academic year, the HTs and the SEAs will develop an activity schedule to address the five trust-wide priorities and other priorities identified by the hub. The schedule provides an overview of the central and hub activities that will take place over the year. For example, to develop teaching and learning, there is a specialist central workshop on target setting planned for term 1, and a series of peer reviews and hosted school visits within hubs.

Improving Teaching and Learning in 2018- 2019

In the LAAT’s Teaching and Learning development plan for 2018-19, there is a number of trust-wide development activities planned to improve pupil outcomes.

LAAT has planned a Maths and Literacy programmes to be delivered by nationally accredited specialist advisers, Jenny Cook (Maths) and Jeannie Bulman (Literacy). In response to school performance data and other monitoring activities, they will provide specialist input to teachers enabling them to accelerate pupil progress in these two core subjects.

LAAT has also planned for ‘Herts for Learning’ to train teachers to deploy strategies used in the Reading Fluency project. Strategies used in the project improved KS2 pupils’ reading age on average by 8 months in just 6 weeks.

The Peer Review Model will be launched in September 2018. This will enable school leaders to participate in up to four school reviews per year. Each school in the hub will receive a review from peers on a priority area within their school development plan. A review will involve an agreed day of moniotoring activities such as learning walks, work scrutiny and lesson observations.  Where appropriate, schools will provide follow up support on areas for development.

School leaders will have the opportunities to host visits to their schools. A number of LAAT academies have the expertise and capacity to showcase excellent practice in a specific area. E.g. Early Years provision, teaching RE etc. A LAAT SEA will support school leaders to plan ‘focussed visits’ to their schools.

High quality teaching of RE is vitally important to LAAT. Every LAAT academy is engaging in a RE audit this year. This audit will provide school leaders with recommendations for developing RE in school. LAAT will work with DBE advisers to secure high quality RE in all of its academies.

The CEO and DSI will hold review meetings with school leaders during the year to establish the achievements to date, barriers for development and future actions needed to secure success in the key priorities areas.

The School Improvement Team at the Centre

The central team, along with the directors through the standards committee are key to ensuring that the Trust holds each school to account for standards. They do not however, provide all the support but also broker the most appropriate support for each school using a wide range of key partners and capacity within the hubs and other schools. LAAT works closely with the three Local Authorities and local Teaching School Alliances to enhance provision and ensure a cohesive education landscape.

LAAT School Improvement Team

The LAAT team has significant headship and school leadership experience. Two School Effectiveness Advisers (SEAs) currently undertake inspections - one for OFSTED and one for SIAMs. Members of the team have had a broad range of experiences in schools of all categories understanding what outstanding looks like and having had success in moving schools out of categories.

Pen Portraits

Director of School improvement: Paul Thompson

Paul is the strategic lead for school improvement for LAAT. Having been a successful Diocesan Deputy Director of Education since 2010, Paul has an excellent knowledge of the 141 schools in the diocese. From being in a team of two advisers when appointed, Paul has built a very strong school improvement team consisting of 14 Associate Advisers and 8 specialist advisers to work alongside the internal team of five advisers. He is able to draw on the strengths and expertise within the Diocesan schools as well as the team of advisers and key partners in education such as the teaching schools, local authorities and independent consultants. Paul’s career in education spans 23 years with the majority of that time in senior leadership positions. He holds the NPQH qualification and has been a successful headteacher for seven years achieving a good OfSTED and Outstanding SIAMs inspection during this time. Paul is also a trained SIAMs inspector and leads a team of inspectors. He uses his wealth of experience to lead the school effectiveness advisers and ensure the school improvement strategies bring about sustained development in all LAAT academies.

 School Effectiveness Adviser: Stuart Edmonds

Stuart has ten years of headship experience in good and outstanding schools. He was a Local leader of Education supporting two schools from a category to good. He is an accredited Professional Partner who provides support for new headteachers and was one of the founder members of the Rushcliffe Learning Alliance. He has worked as a National Leader of Education and is a current Ofsted inspector.

Deploying officers in their other role as Ofsted inspectors generates income for the Trust whilst gaining important experiences through Ofsted training and being out and about in schools all over the region as OfSTED Inspectors.

School Effectiveness Adviser: Yvonne Shaw

Yvonne has over 35 years’ experience in Primary Education in Humberside and Lincolnshire having held a wide variety of posts including Headteacher for 14 years. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Primary Education (Leadership). Yvonne worked for CfBT School Improvement Service for eight years as an Education Adviser in Lincolnshire and then in 2016-17 she was the LA Locality Lead for Boston and South Holland. Prior to joining CfBT, Yvonne led her school to an overall outstanding judgement from OFSTED. Her leadership was also judged outstanding. During her tenure as headteacher, she gained experience as a Consultant Headteacher for five years where she was instrumental in enabling schools to develop distributed leadership models.  Yvonne’s is an Accredited SIAMS inspector and she holds the Professional Qualification for School Inspection (PQSI) which she earned during her Ofsted inspector training. In this capacity she inspected schools outside of Lincolnshire and although no longer inspecting for Ofsted, she has used this experience and expertise to support leadership teams through her Adviser role.

School Effectiveness Adviser: Samantha Stewart

Samantha has been a successful senior leader and head teacher in an Infant and a primary school as well as leading her primary school through academy conversion where it became the first primary academy in Lincoln. She led her schools through positive Ofsted inspections gaining good with outstanding features for both the Infant and Primary Academy. Samantha was seconded as an HMI with Ofsted, leading inspections of Primary, Infant, Junior and Early Years settings before joining the Diocese as a School Effectiveness Adviser where she leads on school Improvement and head teacher performance management. She continues to serve as a HM inspector. She also trains governors and school leaders about their roles and responsibilities and preparation for inspection.

School Effectiveness Adviser: Stephen Johnson

Steve is a former Secondary Headteacher and Ofsted Inspector. Steve comes with a wealth of Senior Leadership experience including Headship. He has worked in secondary schools in different contexts from inner city to rural, including those facing challenging circumstances. He has an MA in Education Leadership and Management from Keele University, and is accredited with the NPQH award. His professional interests include curriculum design, leadership and management, learning and teaching, the effective use of data, and school improvement. Steve has spent time working as an Ofsted inspector in both the Primary and Secondary sectors. He has a good working knowledge of Ofsted being accredited with the Professional Qualification for School Inspector (PQSI) .

Interim School Effectiveness Adviser: Dan Kinsey

Dan has worked in primary schools for twenty five years, the last twenty spent in leadership roles in two Diocesan of Lincoln Church schools. Working at Lisle Marsden (VA) Church of England Primary Academy in Grimsby; ultimately as Headteacher, Dan has a wealth of experience of amalgamation, federation and more recently academisation in a very large 560 pupil setting. Dan is a CEO Board member of the Humber Teaching School. Dan is also an Associate Adviser for the Diocesan Board of Education as well as the School Effectiveness Adviser for LAAT.

LAAT Specialist Maths Adviser: Jenny Cook

Jenny specialises in mathematics and holds the NCETM accreditation of Professional Development Lead. She has extensive teaching experience and recently led mathematics developments across Lincolnshire. She can support staff with:

  • Raising attainment in mathematics
  • Increasing subject knowledge
  • Promoting enjoyment of study
  • Developing growth mind-sets

LAAT Specialist Literacy Adviser: Dr Jeannie Bulman

Jeannie has experience as Deputy Head of two schools and as English Subject Leader and many years as an Education Consultant. She has completed extensive research into visual literacy in the primary classroom and her recent publication, ' Children's Reading of Film and Visual Literacy in the Primary Classroom' (Palgrave) has been nominated for the UKLA Academic Book Award 2018. . She specialises and provides training in all aspects of Primary English Teaching and Learning and can provide bespoke in-school inset days/consultancy and twilight training sessions in:

  • Raising attainment in writing
  • Developing reading comprehension skills and strategies
  • Improving standards in phonics and spelling
  • Developing the spoken word and drama
  • Embedding a visual approach to learning in English – use of film and visual literacy.
  • She is also an STA approved KS2 Lead Moderator Manager and approved KS1 external moderator and can support with English SATs and writing assessments at Key Stages 1 and 2.

Partnerships

Effective trusts are adept at looking beyond their own boundaries to secure additional expertise and experience at both whole-trust level and academy leader or individual teacher level when needed.

LAAT is aware that it needs to maintain and develop strong relationships outside of its own schools. It therefore:

  • Works with the Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education and its team of school support officers
  • Works with Teaching Schools, in providing intensive teaching and learning support (via SLEs) as at Chestnut Street 2017/18, and in the development of leaders
  • Has staff sitting on the North Lincolnshire Education Standards Board and the Lincolnshire Learning Partnership.
  • Works with the Teaching Schools and Local Authority to access SSIF funding to engage schools in specialist programmes, e.g. LEAP/LAMP
  • Works with the Church of England Foundation for Leadership to develop peer networks and provide support for rural schools.
  • Works with Herts for Learning to provide the Reading Fluency Project.
  • Has regular formal meetings with Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire LA school improvement officers. LA and Diocesan staff have delivered joint programmes and training.
  • Works with a range of external independent advisers e.g. Maths and Literacy.
  • Ambition School Leadership to provide a range of programmes to develop leaders at all levels
  • As stated in the DfE Memorandum of Understanding with the Church of England, Lincoln Diocese also has 141 church schools from which we draw support.

School Improvement Reports for LAAT directors

The following key reports are required by LAAT directors:

  • A termly and annual evaluation of the ‘Signature of Risks’ and Academy Discussions.
    The DSI provides reports on the strengths and risks that exist in schools across the Trust. The board reports summarise the analysis of risk across all areas that could impact on standards e.g. teaching and learning, leadership, finance etc. The analysis is based on central team evaluations, school evaluations and academy discussion visits which take place three times a year. These reports enable LAAT directors to challenge and support the actions taken to address the risks. The reports enable directors to compare risks between schools and on a termly basis.
  • School Performance Reports
    The DSI provides reports on pupil performance. These reports provide detailed information on individual school performance and trust wide performance at the end of key stages, mid-year for all year groups and end of each term for Y6. Directors are able to compare performance to previous performance in the Trust and to national averages. The reports enable directors to challenge the DSI on underperformance in specific areas of the schools for specific groups of pupils in the Trust.
  • Leadership changes
    The DSI provides reports on any significant changes in leadership in schools. This enables directors consider the strategic leadership across the trust.
  • Progress against development plans.
    The CEO/DSI reports progress against the priorities in the LAAT development plans. This enables directors to support and challenge officers on areas which are not on track to be achieved on time.