Creating a shift in culture is difficult. Certain ways of working, behaviours and expectations can become so ingrained over time, that they can seem impossible to change or overcome. Just like bad habits to which we always succumb, old patterns can creep back into the way a school runs, and prevent the culture change required for that school to progress and flourish. At Bett Academies, Cathie Paine, deputy chief executive at REAch2 Academy Trust, will explain how academies can facilitate and enable a change of culture, and how they can create a unifying identity across the multi-academy trust (MAT). Here, Cathie outlines what she will cover in her session at Bett Academies, which will take place at 12.30pm on Thursday 16 March at the NEC, Birmingham.
From my experience, it seems that the academy movement and the opportunity to work within an MAT opens up many opportunities; it clears a path for new ideas, fresh ways of thinking and creative solutions to the difficulties that have plagued the education system for many years. In order to create and maintain a solid identity, founded upon clear principles and attributes, all schools within a MAT must work within a unifying narrative. In this way, a strong community of educators, leaders and students who adhere to the same levels of behaviour and stand for the same core values and expectations can be formed. And once this culture has been established and the MAT community has been created, it can become a formidable force to be reckoned with!
With a high proportion of children from deprived areas and families within our MAT, we work hard to make sure that they do not miss out on enriching life experiences.
What this requires, however, is a shared language and approach to education across all academies within the MAT, and consistent leadership patterns. For example, within the REAch2 Academy Trust we share seven ‘touchstone’ values across all our schools: learning, leadership, enjoyment, inclusion, inspiration, responsibility and integrity. By keeping these touchstones at the forefront of our minds when managing each school within the MAT, we are able to ensure that all the children we teach receive a consistent and unified approach to their education and development. And, as a result, a strong culture and community is formed.
One thing I will be exploring in my session at Bett Academies is the extent to which MATs should encourage variety and individuality across their schools; how can we balance variety and creativity with the need for a shared identity?
Also, I will be using our ’11 before 11’ programme as an example of how academies can go beyond grades, statistics and spreadsheets to support the growth of fully-rounded and happy individuals. With a high proportion of children from deprived areas and families within our MAT, we work hard to make sure that they do not miss out on enriching life experiences, such as foreign travel, learning to cook and experiment with food, climbing a mountain, sleeping under the stars, and more. This is another way in which, as a MAT, we are able to ensure our children receive a consistent and unified experience, and feel part of the academy community to which they belong.
To find out more about how you can facilitate and enable positive change within an academy or MAT, come along to Cathie’s session at 12.30pm on Thursday 16 March. You can reserve your place for free here.
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