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In conversation with...Samuel Ward Academy Trust

Ahead of his talk at The Academies Show, Dr Tim Coulson discusses multi-academy trusts

Posted by Lucinda Reid | November 15, 2017 | School life

On 22nd November 2017, Dr Tim Coulson, Chief Executive of Samuel Ward Academy Trust, will be talking about ‘Leadership and Educational Improvement in a Complex System’. Ahead of his presentation, he reveals his thoughts about multi-academy trusts.

1. The number of schools forming and joining multi-academy trusts (MATs) has grown significantly over the last five years with predictions showing this will continue. What are the benefits that MATs structures bring schools?

19 schools have joined the Samuel Ward Academy Trust - 19 headteachers are now bringing their collective wisdom to the challenges faced by schools in a tight-knit area of south west Suffolk and east Cambridgeshire. As a Research School we are looking to use what evidence shows works much more effectively.

2. Your experience as a regional schools commissioner, and currently as a MAT CEO puts you in a beneficial position to comment on the current landscape. How has your changing role impacted your view of MATs ability to raise pupil performance?

All schools want to raise the levels of performance of their pupils. A MAT with a range of expertise has the opportunity to find the best practice in its schools in different areas and look to spread this across all the schools.

3. Real terms funding cuts as well as the introduction of the NFF continue to keep school leaders up at night. How are these changes playing out in your context?

The cuts make life hard. The MAT has to help by finding where the collective efficiencies are found without impacting negatively on the curriculum being provided.

4. Are there common characteristics a trust should possess to be successful?

Common characteristics in my view include a vision, passion and putting children first. These sound easy but are hard when they require the adults in the trust to change their practices.

5. Finally, what is the one message that you would want visitors to take away with them from the Academies Show Birmingham 2017?

The education system is in good shape. It is the role of school and MAT leaders to inspire school staff that yet further improvements in children’s standards are achievable, and that as the education system works more effectively together on using evidence of wat works we can achieve yet greater things with and for our students. 

The Academies Show is free to attend and you can register for a ticket via their website.

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