School Improvement Strategy
Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust (LAAT) is a multi-academy trust formed by the Diocese of Lincoln in October 2013. In December 2019, the Trust grew to 15 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. Spalding Parish, which entered the Trust in December 2019, is our largest school with about 500 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 a full spectrum of OfSTED judgements from Special Measures to Outstanding.
LAAT Vision Overview
Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust has adopted the Lincoln Diocesan vision for Church schools as its own vision. This underlines to all the strong family links between the two separate organisations and supports everyone in their understanding that diocesan schools within LAAT continue to be part of the diocesan family.
The need for pupils to actively engage in Excellence, Exploration and Encouragement underpin LAAT’s belief that all children need to flourish in a creative environment that allows them to become all that God intended.
- 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:
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 the quality of education (intent, implementation and impact), behaviour and attitudes, pupil behaviour, personal development and leadership and management. 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. If through LAAT due diligence it is evident that a school wishing to enter the Trust exhibits issues that could potentially reduce the overall performance of the Trust (e.g. issues relating to finance, pupil projections or standards), then directors may defer the entry of that school until either the school has addressed such issues or the LAAT has sufficient capacity to support the school without negatively impacting on other schools in the Trust. Directors will prioritise schools that add capacity to the Hubs and the Trust as a whole.
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 six key priorities for the Trust in 2019 to 2020 which are:
- Embedding Vision so that all pupils and adults are able to thrive and flourish in the Trust
- Developing Leaders at all levels to further improve the quality of education in LAAT
- Improving outcomes for all pupils, especially disadvantaged pupils
- Developing governance, especially at the local and hub level.
- Improving financial efficiencies so that resources are well targeted to improve pupil outcomes
- Developing business operations to further improve the quality of education.
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 the Chair of the Local Board or their representative. 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. Their responsibilities are listed below.
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.
LAAT continues to provide Maths and Literacy programmes to further develop leadership and improve outcomes in these core subjects across the Trust. Maths Specialist Adviser, Jenny Cook (NECTM accredited) and Literacy Specialist Adviser, Dr Jeannie Bulman lead central training days throughout the year which will be a driver for hub activities in these subjects.
For 2019-2020, the Trust is working in partnership with The Geographical Association to enable all LAAT schools to receive fully funded Geography CPD for primary and secondary teachers. The aim of this provision will strengthen teachers’ subject knowledge and build confidence and capability in curriculum planning and teaching.
The following diagram illustrates how LAAT drives hubs within the school improvement infrastructure.
Currently in LAAT, there are three main hubs for our schools. They are as follows:
For William Lovell, as the only secondary school in the trust, LAAT has enabled it to receive a comprehensive package of support and challenge from the Boston Project and the Charter Teaching School Alliance. LAAT has appointed Steve Johnson to the role of Secondary School Effectiveness Adviser and Chair of the Local Board to monitor, support, challenge and evaluate the impact of improvement programme for the academy.
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 LAAT Deputy CEO.
- Support the induction of new academies into the hubs.
The Deputy CEO 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 (or in William Lovell’s case receiving other school to school support).
- 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, Literacy and Geography 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 Activity Schedules
Within each of the hubs, school leaders and the Hub SEA consider the trust-wide priorities and work together at the start of the academic year to identify the key strengths and areas for development for the schools in the hub. A range of evidence is used to inform hub key priorities including QA visit reports, performance data and peer review records. School leaders and the SEAs develop a Hub Activity Schedule to map out the strategies and activities for the schools to work together on to improve the performance of the individual schools and 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. Schools frequently come together to review the schedule and evaluate the impact of their work. The Peer Reviews with the Hubs launched in 2018 have proved to be a very powerful driver for improving teaching and learning.
As a result of LAAT’s comprehensive and effective school improvement strategies, the Trust has been able to make year on year improvements in pupil outcomes.
At the end of 2018-19, the key headlines for pupil outcomes across the Trust are:
- EYFS GLD has improved 5% since 2016 and is just below the national;
- KS1 expected standards in reading, writing and maths remain just below the national average but greater depth at KS1 has increased in all subjects (by 7% in Maths) to be in line with the national.
KS2 expected standards in Reading, writing and maths combined is on an upward 4-year trajectory (from 34% in 2016 to 60% in 2019) and now sits just below the national. There is an upward trajectory in all core subjects at expected standard from 2016 to 2019. Writing progress is now in line with the national average.
Improving Teaching and Learning in 2020- 2021
In the LAAT’s Teaching and Learning development plan, there is a number of trust-wide development activities planned to improve pupil outcomes.
LAAT has planned a continuation of the 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 schools to receive fully funded training from the Geography Association which will enable leaders to strengthen teachers’ subject knowledge and build confidence and capability in curriculum planning and teaching.
Improving pupil outcomes for disadvantaged pupils is also a key priority for LAAT in 2020-2021 and the development plan includes a Pupil Premium workshop, a target setting workshop and QA visits with a specific focus on developing provision for disadvantaged pupils.
The Peer Review Model continues in 2020-2021. This enables 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 monitoring 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 has engaged in a RE audit in 2018-9. From these audits, RE action plans have been developed and these will be worked on with DBE advisers to secure high quality RE in all of its academies.
The CEO and DCEO 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. 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.
School Effectiveness Adviser: June Richardson
June has over 26 years of primary teaching experience and has held a number of leadership roles in different contexts. June has served as headteacher of two Church schools in the Diocese of Lincoln. She has a wealth of leadership experience in the academy and maintained sector. June has worked as a curriculum support teacher, moderator and a Head Teacher Peer Leader. In this role, she supported school leaders with self-evaluation, development of effective practice and monitoring of standards. She has led planned and delivered successful CPD programmes to groups of schools. June holds the NASENCo award and is committed to schools being inclusive places of learning.
School Effectiveness Adviser: Vicky Matthews
Vicky has a strong proven track record in primary school leadership. In her first headship, she led the Church of England primary school from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ with outstanding features. The school was also graded as ‘Outstanding’ in the SIAMs inspection. In her second headship, she led Ulceby St Nicholas CE Primary School from ‘Special Measures’ to ‘Good’ in just 24 months (October 2018).
Since then, Vicky has worked full time for the LAAT with a dual role as Executive Headteacher of Ulceby St Nicholas and as a Schools’ Effectiveness Adviser, where she has been working with other requires improvement and special measures schools across the Diocese.
As well as embracing the LAAT’s philosophy of Excellence, Exploration and Encouragement, Vicky lives by her own school’s vision of showing acts of kindness, being courageous and successful. These are the values that she trusts to have a positive impact on the lives of the children we serve every day.
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).
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.
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 Morton and Chestnut Street in 2017/18;
- Ambition Schools Leadership to enable leaders to access accredited leadership programmes such as the NPQEL;
- has staff sitting on the North Lincolnshire Education Standards Board and the Lincolnshire Learning Partnership;
- Works with the Teaching Schools and Local Authority to engage schools in specialist programmes, e.g. LEAP/LAMP;
- Works with the KYRA research school to enable curriculum leaders to develop curriculum frameworks that are rooted in evidence based research for effective teaching and learning;
- Works with the Church of England Foundation for Leadership to develop peer networks and rural school networks;
- Works with Herts for Learning to provide the Reading Fluency Project in 2018/19;
- Works with the Geography Association to strengthen teaching and curriculum development;
- 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.
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:
- Key Information Packs for Schools
LAAT directors are linked with individual schools and visit the schools throughout the year. For the ‘link schools’ the directors have a key information pack which provides them with essential information such as the school context, performance, strengths and areas for development. Directors use this information to provide support and challenge to Local Boards, school leaders and the central team.
2. A termly and annual evaluation of the ‘Signature of Risks’ and Academy Discussions.
The Deputy CEO 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.
3. School Performance Reports
The Deputy CEO 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 Deputy CEO on underperformance in specific areas of the schools for specific groups of pupils in the Trust.
4. Pupil Absence and Exclusion reports
The Deputy CEO provides reports on pupils absence and exclusions. These reports provide detailed information on absence and persistent absence for all groups of pupils for every LAAT school. Directors are able to use the reports to compare trust wide and individual absence figures with national absence. They are able to identify trends for the trust on challenge where pupil absence is increasing or above the national average. Similarly, for fixed term exclusions and permanent exclusions, the directors are able to use this report to how the Trust, individual schools and pupils groups compare to the national average. The directors challenge and support officers on the information accordingly.
5. Progress against development plans.
The CEO/DCEO 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.