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Be part of something bigger

Jackie Waters-Dewhurst, Chief Executive Officer of the Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust (LAAT), explains the Trust’s belief in the benefits of being part of something bigger.

Mutually supportive family

LAAT was formed by the Diocese of Lincoln in October 2013 to build a mutually supportive family of academies in Greater Lincolnshire who work together to provide the very best outcomes for their pupils. We genuinely believe that together we can do so much more than we can do alone and it is for this reason that ‘Be part of something bigger’ is one of our key messages to schools in the diocese, whether they are succeeding or struggling.  Indeed, we are proud to be a fully inclusive Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) that welcomes applications from all types of school, including Voluntary Controlled, Voluntary Aided and Community schools across the full spectrum of Ofsted judgements, and we never forget how important it is for each school to retain its own unique identity. 

Serving communities

Being part of something bigger has so many meanings for us:

  • Being part of a strong, supportive family
  • Being part of an effective organisation which can deliver improvements and efficiencies
  • Being part of the Church of England
  • Being part of God’s family
  • Being part of an interconnected, interdependent world

As a Church of England MAT, we serve  our communities through excellence, exploration and encouragement within the love of God, meeting the needs of individuals and society as a whole and transforming children’s lives and life chances – by providing an excellent education. Our aim is for each child, each adult, each school to flourish as uniquely individual and with intrinsic worth. With this in mind we offer the broadest of curriculum’s, a comprehensive offer of CPD opportunities and enough local autonomy to enable schools to develop as best fits their own unique context.

LAAT schools are encouraged to be at the heart of their communities and to take part in local events, like the recent Scarecrow Festival hosted by Brown’s C of E Primary School in Horbling. Headteacher, Sally Howley, said the fun-filled day helped to reignite some community spirit into the village after what had been a difficult 18 months for everyone.  At Spalding Parish C of E Day School (SPCEDS) an amazing Remembrance mural, created by a local community businessman, has brought the pupils’ understanding of WW1 to life.  The 1914 – 18 conflict is the historical focus of the school’s new curriculum which asks the children to think about how they can make a difference to their community and the wider world – a cornerstone of the Trust’s ethos. 

Care and support

Schools that join LAAT can also feel the care and support that comes from being part of a larger family of schools that share the same principles and values. And like all families we are there for each other during difficult times. The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on staff, pupils and their families. Many of our academies said they found the reassurance and assistance facilitated by the Trust central team invaluable, together with the opportunities for virtual networking with other LAAT schools to share experiences and advice. According to George Trafford, Executive Headteacher at Morton C of E Primary School and Chestnut Street C of E Primary School having  the support of the LAAT community made a very tough time easier to navigate; while Lianne Cook, Headteacher at Branston C of E Infant School said she was extremely grateful to LAAT’s central team for stepping in during the school holidays to co-ordinate with families if a Covid case came up, allowing her and her  staff to take a well-earned break.

Being part of something bigger also provides the ability to get better value for services and resources due to economies of scale. Our academies can use the collective strength within the Trust and other schools to share knowledge and improve their facilities. Indeed, some of the smaller schools in the Trust have told us that they simply wouldn’t have the financial resource to buy-in the business expertise and best practice advice that is now available to them as members of LAAT. The operational and strategic support we offer enables schools to focus on what’s most important – delivering the best education for our children.

Stronger together

LAAT is steadfast in its belief that all pupils and members of staff should be supported and challenged to achieve their full potential within their own school and the wider community. This belief is echoed by Diane Mulley, Headteacher at SPCEDS, who says that one of the most enjoyable aspects of being part of the Trust is being part of a larger family of schools which means that she may, even indirectly, have an impact on even more lives than the 500+ pupils in her own school.  She also recognises the benefits in being part of a supportive and collaborative group of professionals who help  each other to be the very best they can be. 

Our recent conference on Diversity and Inclusion in the primary curriculum offered school leaders access to acclaimed professionals in this field and expert-led workshops. This important event reflected LAAT’s primary goals – to create a fully inclusive education system in which all students have the opportunity to thrive and to expand their understanding of Diversity and Inclusion principles so they  can be put them into practice in our schools and our communities.

As we look to the future, the only way to become the MAT we want to be– valuing every single person in our community on a local, national and global level – is to step out and be that Trust. I believe the only way we can achieve this is by working together. According to an African proverb:  “If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”  Being part of a caring and inclusive Trust like LAAT reflects these wise words, providing the benefits of a collaborative structure through which schools can gain by both receiving support and offering support to others.

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