Letter from Dean Ashton, CEO
Welcome to Reach South Academy Trust. We are a family of schools that work in collaboration for the benefit of all of our pupils and students. We strongly believe that our charitable objectives, to advance education in the UK, are best realised through collaboration, not only within the Trust but also beyond the Trust, where it brings educational benefit to children and young people.
Reach South is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) that was first established in Plymouth in 2016. At the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, we were operating eight primary academies in Plymouth. Since then our first two primary academies in Bournemouth have also joined us. Reach South was established as a trust to provide primary, secondary and special education. We are delighted that our founding special academy, The Springfields Academy (www.springfields.wilts.sch.uk) in Wiltshire, joined us in November 2017. We are also working towards our first secondary academies joining the trust in 2018. Our aim is to deliver an all through 3-19 education for children and young people in the South West and in collaboration with REAch2 to contribute to that goal across the wider country. Reach South is the sister trust of REAch2 Academy Trust (www.reach2.org). REAch2 was established in 2012 and at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year operated 54 primary academies across the Midlands, London and the South East of England. Reach South and REAch2 share a set of educational values and work in close collaboration and partnership together, although the two trusts are separate and independent legal entities. Those shared values, established by REAch2, are embodied in our family name: REACH – Raising Educational Achievement for Children.
We are developing Reach South on a clear set of values, curriculum principles and organisational behaviours. At the heart of those values is a belief in our young people and a determination to support them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become the successful citizens for today and all of their tomorrows. No child’s aspirations should be limited by the expectations of others.
Aspiration beyond expectation
Inclusivity. Reach South is for all children. We recognise that some children will face greater barriers to their learning and development than others. This may be due to any number of challenges, including cultural, social, domestic, physical or cognitive. We are committed to helping all children, particularly the most vulnerable, to overcome these so that they can grow and thrive to be well rounded, healthy, educated citizens.
Promoting social mobility. This is a fundamental driver for Reach South. Although we recognise that each school’s context and history informs our approach, this is never an excuse for accepting mediocrity or poor performance. An inclusive approach requires an explicit commitment to improving social mobility for all children. To do this, we insist on:
high standards of educational achievement;
high standards of social skills and interpersonal skills;
high standards of communication skills;
high standards of critical thinking, problem solving and creativity; and
understanding of society, economy, environment and an appreciation of contribution and participation.
Serving our local communities. Children’s education cannot be isolated from their social context and, in particular, their family and peer environment. To raise a child’s aspirations beyond their expectations, we must also raise the aspiration of their families and the wider community. Community engagement is not an additional activity that successful schools do; it is fundamental to how they work. Beyond that though, we embrace the fact that the school exists to serve its community; it belongs to the community. Each of our academies will ensure that the curriculum reflects the needs and uniqueness of its community.
Believing in the potential of our young people. Aspiration is a precursor to self-improvement; it is not sufficient in itself but limited aspiration will limit achievement. It is our duty to believe in the potential of all of our children and to make that belief infectious. We need the community to believe in their children, and we need the children to believe in themselves. Aspiration itself becomes a driver and a motivator for educational achievement and personal success.
Preparing tomorrow’s adults to contribute to social, economic, environmental and cultural sustainable development. We educate children to improve their own life chances and opportunities, but we also educate them as trusted members of a community and a global society. Through education, we want to make a contribution to securing a society capable of developing, evolving, improving and being sustainable.
High standards of educational achievement. Education is about much more than formal test and examination grades. Assessment and examination is, however, a measure of each individual’s mastery of skill, knowledge, attitudes and readiness to progress to the next stage of learning, work and life. Formal educational achievement provides young people with opportunities and choices. We have a duty to make sure that our young people are as well placed as they can be to access those opportunities and choices.
Broad, rich and experiential curriculum. Our aim is not to provide a narrow education that simply provides examination grades. We want to equip young people to grow as healthy rounded individuals and citizens, who make a full contribution to community and society. Our curriculum is rich and experiential. It promotes autonomous and critical thinking skills, promoting creativity and entrepreneurship as well as social skills and communication skills.
Relevant learning pathways. As our pupils move from primary to secondary school and on to further or higher education, we will ensure that they can access learning pathways that are relevant to their aspirations and developing talents. These pathways need to be relevant to both the individual and the needs of the wider community. Our secondary schools will engage closely with employers and Higher Education institutions to ensure that learning is truly relevant and best prepares young people for the world of work and social engagement.
Research based curriculum. There is now significant international body of research evidence about what is effective in learning and how children’s brains develop. Our views about curriculum and learning will always be rooted in verifiable and independent research evidence.
Teaching young people to be effective learners. So they can engage fully with our curriculum, we are committed to teaching our children and young people how to be active learners; and how to embrace feedback and mistakes as the springboard for further learning and development.
Encouraging professional freedom. We expect our school leaders and staff to develop a curriculum that is relevant to local context and is consistent with the values, principles and behaviours of Reach South. We require consistency but not conformity. We encourage professional freedom within boundaries.
Championing young people, not institutions. We will always champion our young people, even if this conflicts with being the champion of our institutions. For example, where the most appropriate learning pathway for a young person is found in another institution, this would mean a loss of funding to the Trust. Under all circumstances, we are absolutely clear that we will always put the interests of the young person first.
Collaboration not competition. As a charitable education trust, we will collaborate and work with other organisations to deliver positive outcomes for children. Reach South already has very close synergies and association with REAch2 and Reach4 Academy trusts. We also seek to collaborate with other organisations, Local Authorities and Government agencies where it brings benefits to our young people.
Integrity and Trust. We behave with the highest integrity at all levels of the organisation. These behaviours are critical to our organisational growth and sustainability.
Developing our people. Integrity without competence would do little to build confidence in our ability to deliver what we promise. We will build and maintain a reputation for expert organisational competence through the development of skills and capacity in our people and our organisation.