Sue Kerwin, Headteacher St Andrew’s Maghull Church of England Primary School
I am delighted to endorse the work of the LDST. Since joining in May 2018 St Andrew’s has benefited enormously, particularly through the School Improvement core offer which has had a clear focus on improvement and has the capacity to support it through leaders and excellent practitioners from partner schools.
As a Church school our focus is always on the whole child – physically, emotionally, spiritually and academically - and the schools in the Trust share this vision and support each other to realise it.
All staff have had the opportunity to build professional relationships with staff from other Local Authorities which gives them a broader view. We have worked together to develop the curriculum, provide joint moderation of writing, support for SEN and celebrated the work of the Trust with an Art exhibition at the Cathedral and a shared Ethos day.
The children are feeling the benefit through opportunities to bring them together and a sense of belonging to a wider family.
The biggest impact has been seen in the professional development of leadership throughout the school, a sharing of good practice on school self-evaluation and the sharing of the workload in producing policies and guidelines. We have developed an approach that defines the school’s autonomy, the areas for alignment and the areas that have to be standardised.
St Andrew’s is retaining its individual ethos and personality while belonging to a Trust that respects this.
Above all, the LDST officers are genuinely interested in our school and the welfare of our staff and pupils – unlike the light touch approach that good schools seem to get from LAs.
Andrew Bond, Chair of Governors Highfield St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School
Joining the LDST family has provided a wealth of knowledge and support that contributes to school performance and development.
LDST share and support the same basic beliefs that every child will blossom in a challenging academic environment which is supported by our ethos of faith. We have already seen specific targeted support to ensure that as a school we improve with our children and staff at the heart of individual achievement.
Mark Ward, Headteacher St Thomas’ Lydiate Church of England Primary School
As an 'outstanding' school, the single most important factor in helping to continue to improve standards of teaching and learning is our involvement in the LDST and the strong school improvement offer. This has come about from the ability to network, share best practice and work collaboratively whilst having strong and robust systems in place for accountability. As a headteacher I feel supported as well as having opportunities to develop my own leadership skills. It really is an exciting feeling to be part of the Trust and to work with other inspirational colleagues to ensure we continue to grow.
Sylvia Thomson, Headteacher Cronton Church of England Primary School
Through officer support, I feel challenged and supported across a range of leadership issues. Every question or concern is discussed and practical ideas to support in addition to clear reporting mechanisms to assist in school accountability are developed. I have confidence that our shared approach is consistent and puts the school in a stronger position moving forwards.
SEN, reading, moderation and EYFS networks are developing good practice conversations across schools. We are both sharing with and learning from others. They help to confirm our strengths and recognise where our practise could be improved.
The headteacher forums are giving each school a shared voice in the development of our Trust. Our school to school support is giving senior leaders in depth opportunities to experience key school improvement roles and the opportunity to experience leadership at the next level.
Governor networks are helping to support all governors and implementation of governor hub is an extremely useful tool for shared communication.
Whilst still in the early stages, we are recognising the potential of collaboration for the children. Shared experiences such as the ethos day help to recognise the distinctiveness of our Trust.
Being part of the LDST family of schools has given strength to systems and structures already in place with opportunities to redefine and quality assure the processes by which we strive to improve outcomes for children. It allows us to grow and strengthen whilst remaining autonomous in our context.
Rachel Clare, Office Manager Parish Church of England Primary School
I have received consistent and effective financial support from Steve following our transfer to LDST. Our finances are more transparent; therefore allowing us to produce more accurate and up to date monthly reports.
One of the most satisfying aspects is that we now have greater control over our finances; this allows us to be more forward thinking than we ever have been. Steve is incredibly knowledgeable and is never too busy to share this knowledge and his expertise whether it relates to matters large or small.
Even though the transfer to an academy was an incredibly daunting prospect when considering financial management, we have been supported every step of the way and can honestly say that we are more confident in the school’s financial management today than ever before.
Jill Stratford, Headteacher Huyton with Roby Church of England Primary School
The support from LDST officers and other schools in the Trust enabled us to evaluate our position, identify actions required and make the necessary changes with speed and efficiency. The high quality support and focused challenge enabled us to move forward with confidence and the assurance of support from the wider community of Trust schools. The improvement work with LDST was practical, targeted and swift with regular review, evaluation and redesign.
Alison Jackson, Headteacher St Paul’s Goose Green Church of England Primary School
In terms of HR we restructured via the authority 2 ½ years ago and it was a very turbulent and difficult process. Sarah is very honest and professional. She established an instant rapport with me which filled me with confidence. She answers her emails in a timely manner and always gets back to me when I leave an answerphone message. Although it is a difficult and challenging process I am sure that any issues will be speedily resolved. Her no-nonsense attitude is great.
Claire is energetic and passionate about the development of the curriculum and at a time when we are juggling many initiatives she inspires us to prioritise this area. Claire’s enthusiasm has driven us to be the best we can be and our DHT Adam has really moved forward with our approach.
Rachael’s desire to ensure that pupils with additional needs achieve the best outcomes they can is obvious. She works very hard and produces quality documents. As a serving SENDCo she knows first-hand all the challenges of the role and clearly is using this position to try and streamline paperwork and actively help improve the SEND core offer throughout the Trust. Buddying up SENDCo’s and sharing good practice is going to benefit both pupils and colleagues.
Neil Lockwood, Chair of Governors The Beacon Church of England Primary School
Since joining the LDST I have been impressed by the level of co-operation, support and communication between the officers of the Trust and the governing bodies/schools and also between the governing bodies of all the schools.
This collaborative approach has had a positive impact on our school and has exceeded our expectations when we joined the Trust.
Sue Mawdsley, Previous Headteacher Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School
Holy Trinity joined the LDST a year ago. As a maintained school within Sefton we were becoming increasingly concerned about the following:
- A feeling of increased isolation to support us with school improvement. I was spending a lot of time spearheading or joining local initiatives that promoted joint working and peer to peer support. I was also spending a lot on private consultant support for leadership. This was very time consuming and expensive for relatively little cohesive impact. As a school we felt increasingly vulnerable.
- It was almost impossible to be clear how the LA was spending our top slice and the value for money provided by different services;
- The quality of services, such as HR and the little school improvement support we got, was deteriorating as the council faced increasing cut backs.
Since joining LDST we haven’t looked back. Not a day goes by without me thanking the decision we made to convert.
The vision is strong and passionately shared by all the schools in the Trust and the staff at the centre. The centre has a strong commitment for all its schools to succeed and provides the best school improvement support and challenge that I have experienced.
As a fledgling Trust we have overcome problems together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual trust. The contribution of the Trust’s headteachers to shaping our future is fundamental to its success. Already we have built strong bonds of mutual support and sharing of strategies. Joint projects like ROAR (Raise Our Achievement in Reading), writing moderation, school to school peer reviews, curriculum development and an Ethos Conference, have made me feel confident now that Holy Trinity is moving in the right direction within a visionary and sustainable partnership.
Lynne Ryder, Previous Headteacher Parish Church of England Primary School
As an outstanding school, that is exempt from inspection, the SI offer is providing us with the support and challenge that is necessary to ensure that we accurately evaluate our provision and do not become complacent. LAs are only able to offer this high level of support for school improvement to those schools which require improvement. For me, as a school leader, the SI offer has already proved to be invaluable.
Staff in school are benefiting from the networks that have been established. These include a curriculum design network, a reading focused network, moderation networks and a recently established EYFS network. The networks are providing high quality collaboration and CPD, which is bespoke to the schools within the Trust.
The collaborative work that the curriculum network is doing on developing a knowledge based curriculum has been hugely beneficial in helping us refine and develop our own curriculum offer, especially in light of the new Ofsted framework. Working with secondary subjects specialists, from within the Trust, has afforded schools an opportunity to ensure that the curriculum that they provide truly prepares the children for the next stage of their education.
The Trust is committed to developing staff as leaders. Staff within my own school, including myself, have been given opportunities to develop leadership skills by working and supporting in other schools. These opportunities are having a positive impact not only in the schools we are supporting but in our own school as it allows staff to flourish and grow as leaders, while remaining part of our staff team.
Sue Sollars, School Business Manager St James’ Church of England Primary School
St James CofE Primary School joined the LDST in April 2018. The LDST was very supportive during the conversion process, responded quickly to questions and concerns. Since conversion they have continued to support the school and myself in all aspects of Financial Management, Human Resources & School Improvement.
All LDST staff are approachable and knowledgeable in their fields of expertise.