Policy by tweet – released prior to Gavin Williamson’s CST speech later the same day
We are proud to have members from Cooperative Foundation Trusts and Cooperative Multi-Academy Trusts in the Cooperative Schools Network. We have brilliant Cooperative MATs in our family, who are focused on ethical leadership, values and principles, and the enrichment of their communities. They work in cooperation with other Trusts, not in competition.
At Coop Schools, we have been a little hesitant to respond to the agenda Gavin Williamson and the Department for Education appeared to lay out last month, for two reasons.
Reason One: it strikes us as a sideshow from the main stage. It’s an attention grabbing headline, and interpreting it as anything else would be very premature. The main stage has been the resilience of schools and their communities during a time of crisis, where a huge range of schools – LA maintained schools, Foundation Trusts, and Multi-Academy Trusts – have worked together for the benefit of their communities, no matter the challenges created by central government.
Reason Two: giving an attention grabbing headline too much notice, when it has limited evidence to support it, feeds it oxygen. Williamson’s vision seems more a reaction to the slowdown of academisation in the past year than a determined drive to step up this agenda. The DfE latest documents page shows nothing new in terms of policy or initiatives on academisation since a sponsor listing release on 29th April. The DfE is making an additional, fairly modest sum available to support existing MAT group expansion, possibly in an attempt to re-energise their growth.
The speech needs placing in context: Williamson was talking to an audience of MAT Trustees and CEOs at the Confederation of School Trusts, an academy membership group representing their views on the national stage. In reality, limited conversion resource, resistance from all teacher unions, strong community resistance, successful alternative models, alongside ‘free market’ failings in the academy model (from CEO pay to over-extended, non-regional Trusts): all these factors present serious obstacles to Williamson taking this vision forward.
Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts said something we agree with: “A group of schools working together… can do lots of things that are harder for stand-alone schools to do.” Where we may differ is in the one-size-fits-all model for this collaboration, as Harry Kutty, Headteacher of Cantell School in Southampton pointed out.
Thanks Harry. Aspire Community Trust shows the value of partnerships in all it does.
We’re grateful to all our members for being part of our strong family of values driven, cooperative and collaborative schools and Trusts. Thank you.