Why schools should no longer work in isolation
Jane Horn is the Principal of Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, and joined the Active Learning Trust in September 2017. During her nine years of holding senior positions at Cromwell, Jane has inspired her colleagues and pupils through tremendous change, growing the college’s already strong reputation and benefit to its local community.
At the beginning of last year Cromwell Community College, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, began its search for collaboration to further strengthen its educational offer.
“Last year we decided to actively join a Trust. I like to know all of the facts before making a big commitment and undertook a lot of research to best grow opportunities for our pupils. We’ve worked really hard to be in a position of strength and it was really exciting to be able to make the choice of who to work with.”
Cromwell identified it was important to be a part of an organisation that shares its vision, values and purpose - to focus on achieving the best outcome for the pupils and give the college an excellent voice in the region.
“I didn’t want to compromise on Cromwell’s core values, but only to strengthen them. We also wanted the collaboration to be respected within the education profession. I believe that the future of schools is to work in collaboration not isolation - it is so important to share ideas, resources and best practice.”
Cromwell Community College is now in a unique position as both it and its largest feeder primary, Kingsfield School, are part of the Active Learning Trust - providing a 3 - 18 year old educational provision. Now, the schools work together to form shared planning, moderating work and provide continued learning of key skills.
“Having strong ties with Kingsfield School is such a positive. We can now ensure our pupils receive a continued learning path from early ages through to finishing school, allowing us to work together to plan lessons so there aren’t knowledge gaps for when pupils reach secondary school.”
“Of course, the process to join ALT also required some element of change management for colleagues. I have built a good rapport at Cromwell, and The Active Learning Trust provided me with FAQs which I found really helpful to answer questions regarding employee contracts, return on investment and ‘is this move going to provide value for money’.
“Actually, one of the most important things for me was that on a day-to-day basis nothing should change. Our teachers work in the same way - they were brilliant before and continue to do a great job. What this has allowed however is for more opportunities; opportunities for continued professional development that we wouldn’t have had access to before joining Active Learning Trust. We’ve had eight members of staff attend courses so far this year, it isn’t that we didn’t take part in training courses before - but we do now have more opportunities to get out of the classroom, meet other colleagues and share ideas.”
“We also have the opportunity to work closely with other secondary schools to develop provision and opportunities for our staff. This includes our most local secondary school, Neale Wase and Chantry Academy in Ipswich. We will use this partnership to develop ideas around the curriculum as well as strengthening our CPD offer to our team here at Cromwell.”
Through the Active Learning Trust, Cromwell has received several opportunities for cross school working, such as participating in a Trust-wide mental health project, working with others to develop a Trust-wide approach to RE, and working more closely with primaries to further understanding of the Key stage 2 curriculum.
Jane attended two Active Learning Trust events last year, seeing speakers like Sir David Carter, the National Schools Commissioner and Paul Brooker, the regional director of Ofsted for the East of England.
“Joining the Trust has also supported my own CPD - I know now that I have the central team only a phone call away, which is a really big support as a Principal. It has also given Cromwell the opportunity to think large scale and access events which allow me to see that bigger picture and take the good learning back into the school.”
We’re really looking forward to see what further opportunities the future brings!