Academies praised for being like “Home”
Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 29 June 2020
Cllr Mushtaq says he's been "blown away" by their ethos and is "very impressed"
Four Oldham primary academies have been praised by the council's education chief for being "a family.”
Focus-Trust, a multi academy trust, has 15 primary academies located in the North West and West Yorkshire.
Shaid Mushtaq, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, met Helen Rowland, Focus-Trust’s chief executive, Donna Tandy (Deputy CEO and Academy Improvement Partner).
They were accompanied by John Taylor (Executive Principal of Coppice and Roundthorn), Andy Hulmes (Head of Academy Coppice), Angela Leach (Principal at Freehold) and Lizzie Egan-Walsh (Head Teacher at Lyndhurst).
Since the trust was established in 2012, it has been steadfast in its approach and ethos.
Helen Rowland explained: “We have four organisational values - Care, Dare, Fair, Share – which are lived out in every individual across the Trust and in every academy to make a positive difference to its children through the empowerment of its people.
“Over time, the Trust’s commitment to realising its vision has been strengthened with the creation of Community Champions in all its academies - a key member of support staff who works with the school and community to mutual benefit.
“Since schools closed to the majority of children in March, ensuring the provision of a quality education and support for children and families has never been more important.
“All schools remained open throughout to priority children, but the key priority has been connecting and communicating with families and staff and ensuring everyone’s wellbeing is prioritised.”
Leaders shared with Cllr Mushtaq examples how they connected and supported their families and staff during this time.
These included welfare phone calls, online learning platforms, paper home learning packs, food parcels, FSM vouchers, craft and resources packs, sharing the love hearts on the school gates, family and staff quizzes, virtual assemblies, videos, photos on Twitter and Facebook and even a live stream community event accessed by 2,500 people.
After listening to the leaders, Cllr Mushtaq said: “I’ve been blown away. You really understand your community needs and have connected well with them.
“It’s just like a family. Your trust ethos has struck a chord with me and I’m very impressed with all the work you’ve done. Thank you.”
Helen Rowland added: “We are hoping our legacy from this pandemic will be an even stronger relationship with our communities and that we truly are great academies at the heart of our communities.”
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