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Citizen Schools in Action: St Clere


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Title: Citizen Schools in Action: St Clere

Citizen Schools in Action St Cleres School,
Specialist Science College and Co-operative
Academy, Thurrock - Case Study 3
Embodying and modelling what it means to
Key headline statement
Key headline statement
Now heres the academic bit
Two researchers visited each case study
school About twenty interviews were conducted
with staff, students, parents, governors and
community leaders looking at 1. Individual
development of citizens 2. Institutional
development to support citizens 3. Interactions
with the community Six researchers analysed all
the data to identify common themes and met to
discuss the findings Case study created with
each school
We create civic governance the Co-operative
School story
  • The 2006 Education Act allowed for a wide
    diversity of partners to participate in the
    running of maintained schools. Rather quietly,
    one of the more rapidly expanding partners,
    alongside foundation trusts and academy schools,
    was the co-operative model. Over 200 schools
    have now embraced Co-operative values. The
    Co-operative movement places democracy at the top
    within its organisation, and promotes an active
    membership of the wider community (over 13
    million of us are members of a Co-operative).
    Facing the withdrawal of local authority
    accountability in education, Co-operative schools
    are providing new and imaginative answers to the
    demands of justice and accountability in school
    governance, and provide an alternative to both
    traditional bureaucratic democracy like local
    authorities and market based solutions. The
    Co-operative school story is the story of St
    Cleres where alliances characterised by values
    of mutuality, reciprocity, and civic
    participation are being forged by the students
    and teachers every day. Out of that activity some
    exciting new ways of creating civic governance
    are emerging.

The two Co-operative bodies supporting schools
St Cleres School and Co-operative Academy
  • Location Stanford Le Hope, Thurrock
  • Type of School Co-operative Academy and Science
  • Number of Students 1015
  • Student Profile mixed gender, 11-16
  • Results64 5 A-C inc English Maths, 90 5
    A-C, 100 1 A-G
  • Awards
  • Top 100 in terms of school improvement for each
    of the last four
  • years (DfE). Top 10 of schools for student
    progress and top 10 of schools for continuous
    school improvement (SSAT)

The Team
  • Headteacher Paul Griffiths has responsibility
    for developing community partnerships between
    schools in the Trust and with external
  • Deputy Headteacher Ashlie Hughes is responsible
    for developing Co-operative learning and values
    through the curriculum.
  • Assistant Headteacher Joe Solis is responsible
    for developing Student Voice within St Cleres,
    across the Trust and with other Co-operative
  • Trust Secretary Kate Draper is responsible for
    developing membership and for community liaison.
  • Pupil Inclusion team Jay Callendar, Deputy Head,
    responsible for inclusion, Claire Harrison,
    Inclusion Manager, Mary Brice, Attendance
    Officer, Julie Peak and Donna Dulligal, School
  • Heads of Year The five Heads of Year, Emily
    Catchpole, Laine Taylor, Keiran Parkes, Russell
    Davies and Colin Yeomans have overall
    responsibility for the pastoral care of students.
  • All staff and pupils aspire to the Co-operative
    values of Self-help, Self-
  • responsibility, Democracy, Equality, Equity and

How did it start?
  • St Cleres has been a high performing school with
    a good reputation within its local authority area
    for many years. The school originally became a
    Grant Maintained school in 1993, motivated by the
    ability to gain greater autonomy. The values of
    the school and its leadership team have always
    been about developing a high achieving school,
    and also a school that contributes to the wider
    education system for all young people in the
    local authority area of Thurrock.
  • Seeing the direction of travel within the
    education system under the last government and
    the present coalition, St Cleres moved to
    strategically ensure it maintained and could
    further its own individual success whilst
    sustaining the values of contributing and
    co-operating with the broader school system. The
    school therefore seized upon the opportunity to
    become at first a Co-operative Trust School in
    2009 and then more recently in 2011 a Cooperative
    Academy. In April 2012 it formed a
    multi-academy Trust and was joined by East
    Tilbury Infant and East Tilbury Junior schools.
    These institutional changes, along with the focus
    on sustaining improvement to teaching and
    learning, now provide the focus for St Cleres
    and other member schools within the Trust to
    sustain and develop their vision for education
    within the changing school system.
  • The next phase of the Trusts development is to
    institutionalise the structures, systems and
    culture outlined as they formed the Trust and
    develop a deeper and more meaningful teaching and
    learning practice connected to the values of
    co-operation. St Cleres are also keen to
    explore how they can contribute to the scaling
    and replication of practice across the country.

St Cleres has formed a Co-operative Multi-
Academy Trust with East Tilbury Junior and Infant
School and will sponsor Thameside Primary School
in September 2012
Individual development students learn they can
each make a difference in the world by working
  • The move to become a Co-operative school built on
    a strong school ethos which encouraged students
    and staff to positively contribute to the local
    community. With these foundations the decision
    to investigate the co-operative model and proceed
    with it was described as a natural fit. Paul
    Griffiths, St Cleres Headteacher for over 15
    years saw the Co-operative model as a way that
    the existing values of the school could be
    further strengthened and expanded. He and
    colleagues speak about the desire they have for
    education to develop young people as members of
    society and how a Co-operative approach can
    support this
  • I often say in assembly that we are here to
    provide you with an education that will get you
    the best results that you can achieve, and then I
    say that's half a story. Because of course
    schools are about qualifications for children,
    but if you only give children qualifications,
    you've done half a job, because in simple terms
    you're also developing the young person, and
    you're developing people who are going to take up
    their role in society. And if possible we need
    to make them feel as though they get involved,
    become part of it, make a difference, contribute.
    Being a co-operative school helps us to this.
    Paul Griffiths, Headteacher.
  • So choosing to move forward with the cooperative
    model was one that we felt that we could really
    engage in. We'd already developed the trusting
    relationships with the other schools, so with
    that Co-operative model in mind, and the values
    of the equality, equity, compassion, respect, and
    responsibility, we knew that we were then in many
    respects protecting the identity of our school
    for the future. Shelagh Cosgrow, Primary

Individual development a code for co-operation
  • The institutional values of St Cleres and the
    Co-operative model are now fusing together to
    further develop practice and culture across the
    school. John Purkiss, Head of PE sees the
    co-operative model develop citizenship through
    expectations of the schools rules expectations
    of pupils, all those things embedded across
    lessons. Its not just individual teachers, its
    a whole school policy informed by our
    co-operative approach to develop our young people
    as citizens.

Individual development a course in citizenship
  • Looking at the curriculum of the school students
    learn the skills for Citizenship through a
  • formally taught Citizenship CPD Course.
  • You learn how to be part of a community, and how
    to take part in meetings and decisions, so
  • it's quite good. It think they're good lessons
    to be part of, and they kind of teach you a bit
  • society, what's out there and how to get
    involved. Students
  • Co-operative values and co-operatively informed
    pedagogy have also begun to spread
  • across the school. An example is John Purkiss
    co-operative practice within PE lessons.
  • I was looking at how you could deliver
    co-operative working during lessons....stepping
  • and enabling the students to have great freedom
    and work as a team to problem solve and
  • overcome mistakesusing cooperatively inspired
    teaching and learning has enabled students to
  • work far more closely together, as opposed to
    individual work that might often be seen in a
  • classroom.
  • Students will be able to go in positively to the
    community and have those values. So I think
  • that the school tries to teach students a sense
    of self resilience and to realise that once they
  • out into the job market they need those values of
    communication, cooperation. They need to

Individual development co-operative practice had
spread into a wide range of lessons
Institutional development equality enshrined in
the school rules
  • The governance of Co-operative academy networks
    aims to ensure equality of power and shared
    equity in decisions and direction. All schools
    within the partnership have equal representation,
    and actively participate in the governance of the
    partnership. This enables parents, teachers and
    students to be represented, and to be actively
    involved too. Importantly it also gives the
    opportunity for members of the wider community to
    participate in school governance by becoming
    members of the co-operative, broadening the
    involvement and accountability of the school
    beyond its walls and those who have a direct
    self-interest as a student or parent.
  • Now the Trust board will be made up of members
    from all the schools in an equitable sense,
  • which is very different from some of the other
    academies or academy chains. Any fundamental
  • changes to the work that we're doing would
    require three quarters of all members to have to
  • vote for any future change. Kate Draper,
    Secretary to the Co-operative trust.
  • Paul Griffiths describes how he hopes the
    decision making structures and the culture
  • they enable will influence behaviour more widely.
  • My aspiration of course is that children will
    appreciate they live in a democracy and
  • that by the use of their vote when they are able
    to vote, in the future it might be 16, but
  • it's 18, they wont' take that granted, and so in
    our local elections we might get better turnouts,
  • which you're probably aware are not very great in
    local elections.

Institutional development inclusivity and equal
power are key stones of St Cleres Co-operative
Multi-Academy Trust Academy Trust
Institutional development Co-operation as
preparation for the lives members want to
  • At a time of significant change within the
    education system and wider society, the
    co-operative model implemented by St Cleres has
    enabled four schools to come together and foster
    shared values, a sense of place, and yet also
    retain their individual identity. A range of
    perspectives enables a sense of the development
    taking place to be understood.
  • Were able to work with staff across the Trust
    at different key stages who are going to help
    develop our current strengths. Everybody shares
    the vision as we move forward - it is about pupil
    voice, wider stakeholders in the community, and
    parents, and obviously our employees, the
    teaching staff, support staff, cleaning staff,
    everybody is included. Primary Classroom Teacher
  • Yeah, I think people feel like, you know, I
    think they learn to be a better person, I think
    that makes you--, you feel like your part of--,
    you're a citizen, especially for St. Cleres,
    like I think it's when you walk out the door to
    the minute you walk back in the door, you're part
    of St. Cleres So it kind of gets you in like
    the role for life that you are part of a society,
    like the school, and that you should respect that
    and respect each other. St Cleres Students
  • I think if they can see that every member of the
    community is valued in the co-operative, and
    every member has their own qualities and their
    own strengths, it will build--, the children will
    respect, have a lot more respect for people, and
    a lot more understanding I think. It's about
    seeing--, identifying that people are valued, and
    everyone is important. Classroom teacher
  • What governors were really keen on was that the
    ethos of the school, which is very strong and
    includes all the community, should remain, and so
    it was that that the governors wished to protect.
    It was the values and ethos of moving forward.
    And then in terms of working with other
    institutions, as an infants school, we are the
    smaller of those institutions, retaining the
    credibility of the professionalism, expertise,
    within that particular area, and sharing that.
    Thats what the trust enables us to do. Shelagh
    Cosgrow, Primary Head teacher

Interactions with the local community a web of
connections supports the students
  • Membership of the co-operative is open to all
    those who live in Thurrock students, staff,
    parents, community groups and organisations.
    This has seen St Cleres reach out to work with
    schools beyond its co-operative, with other local
    co-operatives and with nationally run
    co-operatives too. Members of the co-operative
    offer their view on this work.
  • It really helps because we think--, we share--,
    we share a collective experience which makes us
  • more confident were doing the right thing,
    especially when we can share experiences and
  • problems. And the students know that theyve got
    that sense of wholeness because they know,
  • right, I come from here and I go there and I
    could go there and St Cleres is still going to
  • supporting me and weve got strong links with the
    college theyre going to go on to. So they do
  • feel very much like, theyre never isolated in
    any one place, so were all connected. Philippa
  • Buckingham, Classroom Teacher
  • And the national impact will be that we'll see a
    large body of schools operating with a certain
  • clarity about Values and ethics. Senior Teacher
  • And if you think about our international links
    with China and, you know, broadening out our
  • International links then, parents, theyre
    sending their students abroad and things and
  • students stay with them from different countries
    and having their sons or daughters being
  • taught Mandarin. Just a recognition that the
    world is changing, I think they definitely think,
  • know, St Cleres is not involved in just the
    immediate community but its like broadens out
  • the international one. Classroom Teacher

Interactions with the local community the
structure and values support community
  • As changes take place to the role that local
    authorities play in education, the co
  • Operative model is being seen by many as an
    alternative for the middle tier
  • Organisation of schools. Here teaching staff
    offer their perspectives
  • In some ways I do see the cooperative schools
    potentially being, not a replacement for local
  • authorities, but another vehicle, another
    mechanism to work in partnership with what is
  • within our local organisation. Because you do
    have to drive cost down, and we can't waste
  • money in bureaucracy. We have to be slim, mean,
    and able to move fast in this agenda. So I
  • Think the Co-operative schools, which are not
    going to be blessed with the sort of, the sort of
  • levels or, you know, structures that sometimes
    you see evolving in big organisations such as
  • local authorities, well be able to do things at
    a cost effective way. Were also very clear view
  • that we are not within this isolated community,
    were a part of a bigger community whereby
  • our children will have relationships or families
    within the whole catchment area.
  • Its going against the sense of competitiveness,
    isnt it. Whilst were a proud
  • school and we do kind of like the fact that, you
    know, we might be a couple of percentage
  • higher than the next school, at the same time we
    still want the area to succeed. We want the
  • area to be made into an area that is full of
    achievement, you know, a prestigious area. I
  • definitely think it could do with a lot of
    boosting in its self confidence. If you think
    about Essex,

Interactions with the local community parents
are enabled to contribute through the culture of
  • The co-operative values also support the building
    of local relationships and
  • enable these relationships to become part of the
    practice, governance and
  • Decision making of the school.
  • We invite the parents in every morning, we're
    very much open door. We try and bring in as
  • many help-, as much help from outside as
    possible. If we know a parent's got a specific
  • such as she's worked at a special school before
    or anything like that, we bring them in. We try
  • encourage the community hall to be used for
    different events, not just school related but
    like karate
  • and anything, so that the school becomes the hub
    for the community. Primary Classroom, Teacher
  • So you've got your parent representative, staff,
    and community, your chair of governors. There is
  • representative on that board from the
    Co-operative movement to ensure the equity is in
    place. But
  • each of the stakeholders has an equal voice in
    driving it forward. So the board is perhaps that
  • strategic element. On a day-to-day basis in key
    stage 1, the initial part of the school day is
    that all
  • parents and children come into school and share
    the tasks that are being done. So those
  • relationships, those close relationships are
    built up between teachers and pupils, So you have
    a true
  • feeling that the values you are instilling about
    that respect, that compassion, and that caring,
  • already evident as people step over the
    threshold. And our community know that there is
  • expectation for that. So you're starting to
    share with the wider community. Even our
    toddlers know the

Interactions with the local community engagement
and accountability
  • In PE we do a lot. Weve got partnerships with
    for example a local cricket club, Horndon-on
  • the-Hill. Were now a site for them this summer
    for their cricket teams. So its opened up the
  • school to the community. Also we worked with the
    local Community to develop an all weather
  • pitch, and again thats now a facility thats
    open ten oclock at night, every night of the
  • and its pretty much fully booked..the school is
    always looking to involve the pupil voice, the
  • parents are always consulted on changes, and
    obviously the local community depending on
  • what the situation is, are sometimes invited as
    well. So, you know... an example is a plan for
  • new housing development sort of on our doorstep.
    The school hosted a meeting for that cause
  • obviously its going to affect everyone in the
    local community, so were playing a wider role to
  • support and enable decisions. John Purkiss,
    Head of PE

Key learnings from the team
  • St Cleres and the other schools that have joined
    together in the multi-academy trust are just at
  • the beginning of their work to implement the
    vision theyve outlined to date. Some thoughts
  • from key leaders give an indication of how the
    work is set to continue.
  • We need to be able to work with the national
    Co-op network and say, okay, well we want to run
    a Co-op
  • Professional development course, what resources
    can we buy in and what can we do? And I think
    that way--,
  • that would be an area that could develop and even
    the school itself could, you know, be involved in
  • that up in some way. Hannah Law, Assistant Head
  • Id like to see more direct accountability
    through the recognised membership body. Cause if
    you dont have
  • accountability to that, then who do you have
    accountability to? We have something actually
    written into the
  • constitution that youre accountable to the local
    peoplewe still have to find a way of developing
  • that are active- it is actually quite a
    complicated model to try to explain to anybody,
    let alone a parent who is
  • just interested in, you know, is my kid happy at
    school? School Governor.

Summary thoughts and questions for the future
  • I think theres a great wealth of opportunity
    but the problem is time when youre being driven
  • by results and the academic nature of education
    is becoming very much that. Its just about the
  • academic side theres obviously a changing
    landscape thats centred more on the results than
  • the whole pupil. I think the Co-op movement is
    the best thing that could happen to the school.
  • Its about values and I think its very difficult
    in this current climate of academies to remain
  • value based without it being driven by money.
    And I think the Co-op has given us a massive
  • opportunity to become, become part of something
    bigger, and which involves sharing rather
  • than competing, which I think is essential.
    Senior Teacher
  • The Co-operative schools movement celebrates
    pluralism, collaboration, and participation. It
  • offers an alternative model of democratic
    governance to LEAs and academy chains that are
  • developing in the new school landscape. The
    challenge is whether these values can grow and
  • sustain themselves as the local education
    landscape develops. Are the values and ways of
  • Working attractive and simple enough for
    teachers, parents and students to understand and
  • implement? And can they survive in a climate
    where competition, individual choice and academy
  • chain expansion is being Encouraged and