Over the past decade, academies have become a powerful force in education reform. With half of our children and young people in England educated in the academy system, it is now time to do the next level of thinking. Crucial to this is clarity of moral purpose.
Moral purpose – education as a public good
At the legal and ethical heart of every academy trust in England is a single charitable object – to advance for the public benefit education in the United Kingdom.
We must put at the heart of our reform journey this simple and powerful moral purpose – that education is a public good.
We will build a world-leading education system in England if this is at the heart of everything we do as we move irrevocably towards every school in England being part of a strong and sustainable group of schools. This is the end-point – and yes it involves further structural reform but not as an end in itself.
In the final analysis, it is the power of the group – deep and purposeful collaboration – which will drive sustained improvements and build a world-leading education system.
The importance of trust
The legal basis of all academies in the country is the charitable trust. We are accustomed to using the word ‘trust’ to describe this legal vehicle. But trust means so much more. As the new shape of our education system emerges, it is important that we give priority to three other meanings of trust.
Trust as a relational principle: Our education system must reclaim trust as a relational principle. By this I mean that all school trusts must have as a core focus the behaviours and actions everyone will take to build trust – with children and young people, parents and the community and wider society.
Trust as a relational principle should also be at the contractual heart of employer-employee relationship. The principle of trust should represent an objective reality in our education system that transcends cultures and organisations. It is at the heart of education as a public good.
All school trusts must have as a core focus the behaviours and actions everyone will take to build trustLeora Cruddas
Trust as a core value: Trust is an essential human value that quantifies and defines our interdependence in relationships with others. As a value, trust should help us determine the rightfulness or wrongfulness of our actions.
Trust as a promise – holding trust on behalf of children: when we establish an academy or multi-academy trust, we are effectively making a promise to hold trust with and on behalf of children. Kofi Annan said in The State of the World’s Children: “There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.”
Our promise to you
The bold dream of a self-improving system has been our driving force since the early academies were established. If that dream is to become a reality, our system leaders must step forward to lead the way. There is no cavalry coming over the mountain.
If not us, then who?
So, it is with great pride that we launch the Confederation of School Trusts, an organisation of organisations united in an alliance to lead the system.
We are also proud to launch NTA – National Teacher Accreditation (formerly NIPT), our wholly owned subsidiary who are setting the standards for NQT induction nationally.
Our promise is to be your voice, to advocate for you, connect you to each other, support you.
But perhaps most importantly, we promise to be the organisation that acts with you to build a world-leading education system that holds trust on behalf of children.