February 2021 edition: Introduction

Introduction

This edition of Trust is about building the future together.

In his lead article, Steve Rollett reflects on the most recent in our White Paper Series, A Bridge to the Future. In this article, Steve observes that "there is a tendency to dislocate past, present and future; a bias towards future-thinking that is not necessarily coherently connected to what has come before or aligned with other aspects of our projections about the future.” Steve and I both believe that one key part of the bridge to the future is already in place: School Trusts.

In a recent conversation with CST members, I talked through the policy reforms that are on the horizon for September 2021 and proposed that trusts now need to focus on building the principles of these reforms into strategic planning. I made the case that trusts need to mobilise the best research and evidence to build the quality of education.

Reuben Moores article picks up one of these key reforms – the implementation of the Early Career Framework (ECF). This article analyses the lessons from the early roll out of the ECF. As Reuben says: "The Early Career Framework provides such an opportunity for new teachers and their mentors right across the system.” So familiarise yourself with the ECF and the underpinning evidence. Use this to build the knowledge of early career teachers, helping them on their journey of becoming an expert teacher.

Vanessa Ogden’s article analyses the lessons from the Pandemic about the power of virtual learning and more importantly, people. She says that teachers and support staff "are generators of the metaphysical world of education and community when people are separated from each other – the synaptic connection between us, keeping schools alive as a body of people. As we move out of the pandemic crisis and into recovery, opportunities exist to support and reframe the way we organise education. Reducing pressure, resourcing technological infrastructure and recognising the assets we have in our school staff must be part of this picture.

Both Reuben and Vanessa make the powerful case about people. Warren Carratt picks this up in his article, The Extraordinary Art of Being Ordinary. He says, "…when things have been so extraordinary, our Heads have actively sought to be as ordinary as possible.” This is the ordinary magic of schools.

Reflecting on the role of the governance professional, Anna Machin’s article also focuses on people. She believes that "one of the reflections that we have all taken away from the past year has been the importance of our personal and professional relationships, and our communities. The relationships held between boards and executive leaders have deepened through the support each has provided to the other.

This brings us to the issue of what we do as an employer. There are many ways in which employers can build the contract of trust with the people in their organisation. Browne Jacobson is a shining light having been recognised as a top five employer for advancing social mobility in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2020 – the second year in a row in which the firm has been named in the rankings. In their article, Declan Vaughan and Tom Lyas reflect on how the firm has "removed the requirement for minimum A-level grades for our graduates and now anonymise all applications/CVs before the hiring manager receives it… Four years on we’ve seen the diversity of our early careers population flourish in every diversity and inclusion measure. Our talent pool has never been healthier.

Our people are our organisations – our schools, our trusts our communities. But it is important that we protect them, including from those who would commit fraud. Phil Herriott reminds us that fraudsters are not on lockdown, and makes the case for a programme of fraud awareness.

Continuing the theme of the importance of people, Derek Lefley brings our focus back to young people. Talking about the importance of the National Tutoring Programme, Derek says: "a focused hour of learning in a subject or practice that is holding back a pupil from progress, seems to me to be an hour very well spent in that pupil’s online learning day.

I hope you enjoy this edition of Trust. I’ll conclude by quoting Steve: "the brighter future we are seeking to make for children and young people doesn’t start with what we do next year or next month, it starts with what we do now. You, and the children you serve, are already crossing that bridge to the future. As ever, we will be there to support you.