Dear Parents, Carers and Friends,
Proposal for Highfield Infants’ School to enter into a formal partnership with a Multi-Academy Trust
You are probably well aware that there continue to be changes in the educational landscape, creating new challenges for schools. These include reductions in school budgets that will impact on the effective running of schools, a national shortage of teachers and leaders and a continuing change in direction in the ways in which schools develop support mechanisms for teaching and learning.
The Governors of both Highfield Infants’ and Junior Schools are of course anxious to ensure that the schools are in the strongest possible position to meet these challenges. Their priority is to ensure that we are best placed to provide an excellent education for our children whilst protecting the schools’ ethos and their position at the heart of the Shortlands community.
Our two schools work in close partnership with each other to ensure the best possible provision for children at both schools. We have also worked closely with a number of other Bromley schools in the ALC Umbrella Trust, of which we were founder members, and also with EYELA (an Early Years teaching school alliance) and Bromley Schools Collegiate, to ensure that we continue to develop our provision.
The government is now however encouraging schools to join together in more formal groups, as Multi-Academy Trusts (“MATs”), to continue to improve pupil outcomes and meet the challenges ahead. The reality is that stand-alone schools are likely to become increasingly isolated and vulnerable. The Governors at both schools have therefore jointly been exploring our options by meeting and speaking to a number of Bromley-based MATs and considering their vision, ethos and structure.
Governors across both schools are in agreement that we need to be part of a MAT that has a culture of collaboration which will result in the best outcomes for children and will build on the current individual strengths within the individual schools. Consideration has also been given to the size of the MAT so that schools can benefit from economies of scale to ensure the best use of funds, and can develop shared efficiencies in the use of resources - both staff and ‘physical’.
A further consideration has been that we are concerned, at the same time, to retain as great a degree of autonomy as possible so that we still have primary responsibility for key areas such as finance, development and teaching of the curriculum, staff selection and recruitment, and admissions.
Governors have therefore been looking for a MAT that has the capacity to grow, retain and develop both teachers and leaders to meet the needs of its schools both now and in the future, whilst also giving us the flexibility to run our schools in the way we believe is right for us. Above all the Governors want the schools to be part of a MAT which focuses on school improvement, puts the needs of children and families at its heart and where we could have a direct impact on its future development as equal partners.
Having explored a range of options the Governing Boards of Highfield Infants’ and Junior Schools have applied to join the Nexus Educational Schools Trust. This is a relatively recently-established partnership of Bromley primary schools; the current membership is two schools, with four others (excluding ours) joining this year. They include schools with which we already have a strong working relationship as partners in the ALC.
This offers us the opportunity of joining a group of schools rated as Good and Outstanding by Ofsted. Within Nexus there will be extensive leadership experience that includes an Ofsted Inspector, two National Leaders of Education, two National Support Schools and a Teaching School which is a centre of excellence in Early Years education.
All the schools are committed to, and have a proven track record of, rigorous school improvement where Headteachers and other leaders work together to share best practice and learn from one another as well as from other external networks and partnerships. Governors believe that the organisation of, and proposed structures within, Nexus will ensure that school leaders can focus on leading teaching and learning within their schools. The capacity of the schools to train their future workforce is already established and there will be opportunities to attract and retain high quality staff by offering experience and career development across the MAT.
Importantly for us, Nexus values the diversity and ethos of each school. Our joining the MAT would give us the degree of autonomy we have requested, and would not require us to make any changes to the schools’ admissions criteria, identity, uniforms or staffing.
Joining Nexus is the next natural progression in building on already-established partnerships which benefit both our schools and allow their further development so as to support children and their families in Shortlands.
Tony Chase Ann Golding
Tony Chase Ann Golding
Chair of Governors Headteacher