The Connect Academy Trust is based in the South West, centred upon Plymouth. Our informal and formal links led us to explore the opportunities of becoming a MAT, with the principle aim of school collaboration leading to school improvement at all levels, within a climate of respect and openness.
The ethos of the Connect Academy Trust is both collaborative and participative. We have an overarching set of core values to which everyone subscribes but each individual school has a distinctive culture and identity and a voice in the direction and decision making of the Trust through the open and transparent governance structure.
Our MAT is shaped by four principles:
- The MAT has to have longevity (be beyond personalities)
- The MAT has to ensure continuous improvement in outcomes for children: emotionally, socially and academically. The rigorous support and challenge in our enquiry peer review model is the driving vehicle for this
- The MAT has to continue to build the capability to expand by having a clear career path and vibrant and timely CPD for staff
- Business Functions are important but they are solely there to improve the education of our children.
Learning is at the heart of our vision. We expect all members of the Trust community to be learners and to support each other in learning. The professional dialogue between staff and learning dialogue with pupils and parents challenges us to review and rethink in order to improve. Financial decisions are made in order to facilitate our drive for excellence.
The school development process has been designed to ensure that schools are supported and challenged to create learning organisations which strive for the best outcomes for all pupils. Although a business, the core function of the Trust is to improve the education and futures of the children in our MAT. As such we ‘make no bones’ that the focus for everything that the MAT undertakes is to support the learning and progress of the children in our care.
We have also promoted the Enquiry model of examining practice, involving senior and middle leaders going into each other’s schools gathering evidence, identifying practice, formulating a hypothesis and using this to promote further development. This has been one of the single most powerful factors in our school improvement, and has been a fundamental part of the ambition to form a MAT founded on these principles.
As part of learning community we have the moral imperative to support and grow other schools in our area. This will involve being open and encouraging to other schools who may wish to join us, and also having the capacity to both support and challenge schools who may need to be sponsored.