Welcome to the Trust from
Mr Daniel Morrow, CEO
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Woodland Academy Trust website as we are extremely proud, as a Trust family, of our accomplishments. Every member of staff who works within our four schools aspires to be the best they can be in order to ensure that our pupils receive a high quality education.
Within the Woodland Academy Trust we adopt a set of two core values. Our values are ‘the way that we do things here':
1. We work at developing the whole child.
2. We aim for each child to at least reach, if not exceed, their academic potential.
The aims of our Trust are:
to provide a secure, caring community where each child is valued and learning can thrive.
to provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum to ensure that all pupils gain the skills and knowledge to help them grow in confidence and prepare for the future.
to create a series of stimulating learning environments where individuals can work and play together in a spirit of co-operation.
to build a culture within which all leaders and learners feel safe and enabled by each other.
to foster responsibility towards the environment and the community in which we live.
The Trust fits into the emerging pattern of education within the UK. School funding has undergone a number of radical changes that have imposed the need for forensic fiscal scrutiny and the need to look to in-house, already-costed, high-impact solutions.
In considering the concept of a self improving system, there are five linked questions to frame the argument:
1. What would a self-improving school system look like and what would be its defining features?
2. In what ways would a self-improving system be an advance on our current system?
3. What would be the system’s building blocks and to what extent is that architecture already in place?
4. How might the system move from where it is now to becoming a self-improving system? Do the school's current achievements (including those noted above) contribute to such a system? What additional action might be needed?
5. What would make a fully-fledged self-improving system robust and self-sustaining?
The architecture of a SISS rests on four main building blocks:
− capitalising on the benefits of clusters of schools
− adopting a local solutions approach
− stimulating co-construction between schools
− expanding the concept of system leadership
Because professional work in clusters necessitates a system view and the three core features of system leadership noted above, it should be recognised as system leadership now being distributed to all levels . Teachers are, from early in their professional development, being progressively inducted into the knowledge and skills that will be required of system leaders at the higher levels. Individual professional development and organisational development are becoming inextricably interwoven. Teaching and leading go hand in hand and acting on this helps to build leadership capacity within and between schools in the family. Unless the ideas and implications for action of system leadership are widely diffused, the teaching profession and its leaders will not take collective responsibility both for the success of all schools in the system and for ensuring the development of system leaders.
The more family-like the cluster arrangement, the greater the chance that more of the benefits will be realised and the more likely it is that all member schools will improve. Cluster arrangements do not preclude competition between members, but combine it with cooperation. This is often the case with business firms: ‘Co-operation is ceasing to be the opposite of competition and is becoming, instead, one of its preferred instruments’ (Deering & Murphy, 2003).
Families of schools working on local solutions, whether it is middle leadership or succession planning, share a common feature: their capacity to stimulate co-construction among the participants. The term co-construction has recently come into widespread use to refer to the way the partners agree on the nature of the task, set priorities, co-design action plans, and then treat their implementation as a co-production. In some schools, co-construction is also well developed between students and teachers in the co-design of aspects of learning and is associated with the growth of mentoring and coaching among students. Co-construction is the action taken to ensure ‘what works’ in specific contexts with particular people; it is about adapting and adjusting the practices of teaching and learning to secure the promised outcomes.
Co-construction does more than get results. Through its processes, social capital (trust and reciprocity) within and between schools is built up and then fostered by the extent and depth of mentoring and coaching that is easier to achieve within a family of schools. The enriched social capital generated by these organic relationships enables the member schools’ intellectual capital (knowledge and skill, core competences) to be exploited more fully. Schools that offer deep support to other schools, such as staff in national support schools working with their NLE head teacher, repeatedly insist that they too have gained from the partnership. The activities of co-construction lead to the co-evolution of the schools as effective organisations.
Family clusters provide the basic units of a SISS; the local solutions approach combined with coconstruction provides its collaborative culture. The complexities of school systems mean that many of the family benefits arising from schemes of school improvement and professional development are being secured as a by-product of action with a more limited aim. It is opportune to consolidate what began as separate developments in a way that reaps the benefits of clusters. But for this to amount to a SISS, its fourth building block is critical.
In education, the term system leader, originally introduced by Michael Fullan (2005) has now attracted various definitions. They have in common three core features, all of which reflect a deep moral purpose:
− a value: a conviction that leaders should strive for the success of all schools and their students, not just their own
− a disposition to action: a commitment to work with other schools to help them to become successful
− a frame of reference: understanding one’s role (as a person or institution) as a servant leader for the greater benefit of the education service as a whole
If you would like further information regarding collaborating with the Woodland Academy Trust or more information about becoming an academy or an academy trust, then please do e-mail
Mr Daniel Morrow, CEO