Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT)

  The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is a non-profit English educational cooperative registered charity founded in 1987 which serves the needs of the 2,400 specialist schools and academies.

  It is funded by fees from affiliated schools as well as grants from the Department for Education and Skills. It has a staff of 200 people and an annual income of £35 million. It raises about £8 million a year in sponsorship for schools.

  The Trust has already encouraged a large number of its schools to work together in locally based cooperative and collaborative arrangements.


Ninestiles Federation in Birmingham

  Led by Sir Dexter Hutt. This is a collaboration of Ninestiles Technology College and two previously underperforming schools Waverley and International. All three schools are now performing well.


  This is an informal collaboration of three Dorset schools: John of Gaunt School; Clarendon School; and St Augustine's Catholic College, who run a joint sixth form, collaborate on measures to protect pupils being bullied and to take action on pupils with behavioural problems. See attachments 1 and 2.[24]

South East Maidstone Federation, Kent

  This is a hard-edged federation of three former secondary modern schools designed to raise standards of achievement. The initiative has been successful in raising standards. See attachment 3.[25]

Grantham, Lincolnshire

  This is a collaboration between four specialist schools in Grantham, Lincolnshire who have established a joint sixth form. Previously the four schools only provided 11-16 provision. Each school provides A-level instruction in its specialist subject. The collaboration has been a dramatic success with a substantial increase in the stay-on rate at age 16 in full-time education.


  This is a 14-19 Partnership of six Derbyshire schools and colleges which is developing a vocational educational partnership. See attachment 4.[26]

We believe there are as many as 100 such collaborations of specialist schools many of which involve a high performing school helping an underperforming partner school.

  We would hope that the trust mechanism proposed in the White Paper could enable these groups of schools to pool resources and best practice. If they were able to operate under the umbrella of a common non-profit educational charity they could

    1.  Share central support staff such as a Bursar, IT coordinator and even a fundraiser to seek the support of sponsors. Possibly they could engage a joint Chief Executive.

    2.  Collaborate on Joint Sixth Forms.

    3.  Use the expertise in particular subjects of specialist schools, eg the Language College could support language teaching in all the member schools in the trust.

    4.  Operate a joint TeachFirst or GTP teacher training programme.

    5.  Link with a neighbouring university.

    6.  Arrange work placements on a joint basis.

    7.  Collaborate on special needs, vulnerable children and behaviourally difficult children.

  Groups of these schools have said they would even be willing to be held accountable on a group basis for GCSE and A-level results rather than on an individual school basis.

  We would hope that whatever proposals are adopted, they will allow collaborations of this sort to be set up.

December 2005

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