Why We Joined
The Ironstone Trust have a varied set of schools in the cluster who all bring their enthusiasm and knowledge together to help improve education and learning.
How it feels to join the Trust
Overfields Primary in Ormesby have recently joined the Ironstone Academy Trust and the account below is from their headteacher.
Carl held a very informative session with the Governing Body where he talked about the work Ironstone does across the schools, the changes there may be and the things that will stay the same – using Normanby as an example. Governors were impressed by the strong, genuine message coming across that it was all about making a difference to the lives of the children in our community and felt Ironstone had a complimentary ethos to ours.
Carl also met with staff on 2 occasions. In the first meeting 3 staff from across the MAT ( a teacher / TA & Admin) came along and talked informally about what joining Ironstone had meant personally for them. This was really useful for staff and allayed a lot of initial fears and questions. It made the meeting with the union reps easier as a lot of questions had already been answered.
Personally, I have been warmly welcomed into the group of HTs and am excited by the opportunities and challenges being part of IAT will bring for staff and pupils.
The actual process of joining, for Overfields has been quite challenging due to our site circumstances and being a Foundation school however the IAT solicitors and Carl have been very supportive.
Through becoming a member of Ironstone trust, Zetland Primary has been fortunate to work in a collaborative and developmental manner with a range of very successful schools. This has improved our own provision within each phase of school due to the in-depth work carried out across the Trust which is consistently focused on developing ways to improve teaching and learning through analysing effective practice.
As a result staff do not feel they work in isolation but work within supportive networks which work towards a common goal of improving the educational provision offered to all. In addition to this pupils have benefited from shared educational experiences which have allowed pupils to form new friendships and work alongside other pupils from differing backgrounds. These real experiences help improve aspirations and raise individual expectations.
Zetland Primary has also benefitted from the financial support provided to the school which means that we are able to gain best value for money for key services to school enabling pupils to benefit from cost savings which can then be used to support staffing and curriculum resources.
As a head teacher working within the Ironstone Trust I have benefited in a range of ways. In a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding educational landscape I feel I now work within a team of school leaders focused on providing mutual support, guidance and challenge to meet the needs of my school. School improvement is driven through all tiers of school working collaboratively across the Trust. Key teams focus on shared school improvement areas through subject leader and key stage inter- school work which builds capacity. Leadership skills within my staff have been improved through effective training courses alongside opportunities to experience and analyse practice across a range of settings enhancing in-school provision. Performance Management is consistent across all schools. It is responsive to individual school needs but also used the capacity of the trust as a whole to target support accordingly. We also need to ensure that our core policies, safeguarding and financial practices are robust and fit for purpose. Working within a team of successful schools ensures the capacity to meet these demands is there and secure. Finally each school has an active voice into the development of the Trust and in doing so the development of the Trust is both strategic and reflective of its member school’s opinions which ensures forward momentum.
Comment from Simon English Head at Zetland regarding School Improvement
The English leader at Zetland Primary has benefitted through trust work. Leadership course based on enquiry skills and Peer Review training has enhanced the ability to make informed decisions within our school and reflect upon effective practice to support in school work. Being involved in reviews within other schools provides tangible experiences of contributing towards school improvement beyond an individual organisation which enhances leadership skills through this inherent investment. It creates a culture of mutual support and commitment to working collaboratively as a Mat to improve outcomes. My English Leader has also built effective networks with other schools which provide responsive support to our own school improvement areas.
Alexa O Gara
The benefits of being part of the MAT go way beyond policies but it is great to have a standard policy to which we have all contributed; this ensures we cover all angles; it’s easy to become blinkered in your own school community.
The employment of an Early Help Intervention Worker and Attendance Officer has had huge rewards for vulnerable families, staff dealing with challenging issues and most of all, outcomes for children.
Leaders on all levels have benefitted from networking opportunities and in particular the SEND and EYFS leaders have formed a strong and supportive group. This means that there is always someone to go to. In a small school this is very beneficial as we can’t work in teams too much. Supportive teams have been created through the Trust networking.