April 2020 edition: Introduction


We find ourselves in unprecedented times. Our schools have risen superbly to the occasion and are doing a remarkable job in carrying on the education of the children in their care under the most challenging of circumstances. In the spirit of this we wanted to go ahead with the circulation of this edition of Trust offering some reflections on what is happening in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her lead article Leora Cruddas celebrates the amazing examples of courage, creativity and resilience shown by trust leaders and highlights the importance of finding ways of documenting the extraordinary way the human spirit prevails in such times of great adversity.

Sir David Carter Executive Director of System Leadership at Ambition Institute reflects on the fact that the crisis presents education leaders with a risk management challenge on a scale for which there is no training or instruction manual. He predicts that when we emerge from this difficult period that we will see a new model of leadership that cares more about community sustainability and regeneration.

Dawn Carman-Jones Chair of Trustees for an 11-school primary school trust discusses leadership in times of crisis and shares how the Trust Board she chairs has approached the huge challenge faced. She highlights how COVID-19 is testing the resilience of all our governance structures and stresses the importance of using the current situation as a learning experience.

Tom Rees Executive Director of School Leadership at Ambition Institute and Non-Executive Director of Advantage Schools and Northampton Primary Academy Trust, writes about how a fortnight on from the closure of schools across the country, school leaders’ thoughts are turning to the pastoral and curriculum challenges of re-opening.

Cathie Paine Deputy CEO of Reach2 pays tribute to the herculean efforts both within her own trust and beyond and the fact that at a time when we have never been more physically distant, there is a greater sense of coming together, of joint endeavour and of irrepressible human spirit.

At this time of crisis Paula Williamson, Partner and Head of Information Law at Stone King, provides some practical advice relating to managing the risks of staff working "beyond the perimeter”, particularly for those school trusts for whom agile working is not the norm.

Finally, as school trusts move into resilience and recovery planning phase, Rob Gould and Jonathan Coyles from Barker share some expert advice and guidance for school trusts considering how they can take a lead in carbon reduction in response to the other global threat we face, that of the climate emergency.

I would like to thank those who have kindly found time to contribute to this edition of Trust whilst also playing their own part in our sector’s impressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this very testing time I hope that you will find a sense of optimism as some of the content talks of turning our minds to the path from crisis to recovery and focusses on the potential for some elements of positive legacy and valuable learning from the crisis we currently face.