July 2020 edition: Building Agility and Confidence – One Trust’s Approach to Post Lockdown Strategic Planning

Building Agility and Confidence – One Trust’s Approach to Post Lockdown Strategic Planning

As the lockdown eases and we continue to refine our Trust’s strategic approach in readiness for the new academic year, being agile and confident in response to whatever the Autumn brings is what is now driving us.

Tudor Grange Academies Trust is a family of 10 academies within the Midlands with a shared ethos, common values and collective goals. Our Academies have a simple priority: to deliver outstanding teaching and learning for all. As we prepare for the new normal – whatever that is, in determining our key priorities, we are trying to be both proactive by anticipating problems and also swiftly reactive in response to surveys of staff, parent and carer opinion.

What matters most now is that we are confident, concerted and evidence-driven in our approach to helping every pupil to thrive, both through face-to-face teaching where that is possible and via opportunities for learning remotely.

Claire Maclean

1. Improve our agility to respond to the needs of our children

Quality First Teaching will continue to serve the needs of our children. We have an aligned curriculum and calendar of shared assessments. Leaders from across the trust meet regularly and they have agreed amendments to this calendar and sequencing of the curriculum, so that strong, ongoing assessment and shared comparisons of outcomes for children enables us to identify and respond to emerging needs.

We are looking to established strategic partners such as Teach First and Step into Teaching to recruit a team of graduates who we can train to specialise in tutoring methods that are aligned to our curriculum model.

We will need to be even more systematic and strategic in allocating resource to meet the highest needs from September, reviewing this diligently will be a focus for our central team and trustees.

A shared framework for identifying risks incorporating a range of factors including engagement with remote learning, FSM, SEND, LAC and IDACI measures will support our reflections, with non-engagement with remote learning being a key risk factor. Pupil Premium pupils will be allocated an alert score and bespoke solutions will be a priority for children who need this.

Over the last twelve months we have trained Thrive practitioners in all our schools, and this has given us a confidence and shared understanding of developmental needs we did not have before. Our partner Educational Psychologists have been conducting bespoke training webinars with the staff who we have identified will support anticipated needs.

2. Develop our current strategic partnerships and seek further partners to improve our agility

The crisis has reinforced our view that outsourcing some functions in the trust makes us a more agile and confident organisation. We have been able to rely on strategists and expertise in the functions of risk management, facilities management and IT. Our established partners: Pharos Response, Bellrock and CSE have demonstrated great agility: flexing their resources to meet our emerging needs, supplying us with strong decision-making frameworks. Our partners will continue to support us with ongoing detailed planning. Over the summer, we will also move to outsourced catering.

3. Accelerate the Trust IT strategy so that curriculum delivery can be more agile

We have not managed to secure online access for all our children, but we are committed to doing so before the end of term. We have diverted funding we set aside to sustain our IT refresh strategy in order to purchase laptops and routers for all children who need them, supplementing the laptops provided by the DfE.

We have a team of leaders who have oversight of curriculum and assessment. Leaders across the trust are working together as a highly co-ordinated team, through Microsoft Teams, to ensure we have video tutorials and online materials that are quality assured and curated to support the first half term of the Trust curriculum on a Moodle based platform. Teachers across our schools will contribute materials; many curriculum areas have met (we have 3 trust INSET days per year, colleagues know each other well) and decided for themselves how best this workload should be distributed. A highly developed set of resources to support remote learning will help to address workload and inequity of anticipated access issues.

4. Continue to ensure that our leadership narrative is shared, to sustain resilience and confidence

Quality of communication remains a priority for us. We will not be messaging a narrative of catastrophe and recovery.

Most of all, in the face of the pressure we exert on ourselves to respond to the impact of the pandemic, we will remember what has served us well in the past:

"The notion that human caring, the effort to do better for people, might make a difference can seem hopelessly naïve. But it isn’t.” (Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance – Atul Gawande)

Our work has not really changed, we will need to be better and to be better will still require, above all:

  • moral clarity
  • accepting that change when dealing with the most intractable problems can be inevitably slow and difficult, and requires absolute diligence
  • a willingness to try and keep trying.