Nine of Norfolk’s complex needs schools launch co-operative trust today

Head teacher Karin Heap at Chapel Road school in Attleborough.; Photo: Bill Smith

Head teacher Karin Heap at Chapel Road school in Attleborough.; Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

Nine of Norfolk's 11 complex needs schools will today form a formal co-operative trust to cement the work they have done together in recent years, in the face of growing change in the education world.

The logo of Trust Norfolk-SEN

The logo of Trust Norfolk-SEN - Credit: Archant

The schools from across the county will retain their own budgets, governing bodies and ethos, and will remain within the ambit of the local authority, which will join the University of East Anglia and the Co-operative College as the Trust Norfolk-SEN's partner organisations.

The trust said it hoped the county's two other complex needs schools, Parkside School and Eaton Hall Academy, would join the trust 'very soon'.

Karin Heap, headteacher of the Chapel Road School in Attleborough, said: 'We have always worked very closely together, the 11 schools. We are dotted around Norfolk so we cover a very wide area. We are all-through schools so cover more than primary or secondary.

'We all have the same issues. We are dealing with vulnerable youngsters that are often struggling in mainstream. We have a lot in common and have to think differently and find alternative ways of working.

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'Without working together, that's quite difficult, and it can be quite a lonely job. We feel we have become a very strong group of schools.'

She said each school had researched different possibilities, including academy status, and consulted parents, and felt that forming a trust gave the schools more autonomy than the academy route.

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They had a presentation from the Aylsham Cluster Trust, formed of mainstream schools, and sought advice from a recently-formed trust of complex needs schools in Devon.

Ms Heap said the schools had increased their co-operation over the years, and forming a trust would formalise the relationship, and added: 'We felt there is so much change in the educational landscape, we wanted to secure what we have, without it being fragmented.'

She said that more recently the schools' business managers had started working together, which had brought about improvements in things like buying equipment.

Keith Mckenzie, head of Hall School in Norwich, said the expected benefits of the trust included raising achievement and aspirations by developing a collaborative approach including joint training, shared resources and shared coaching.

He said the trust would also aim to provide a wide range of opportunities for children, young people and their families both in and out of school hours.

He added it also had the potential to operate more summer schools, and develop work-like environments at school to help students into employment.

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