EVAT School Improvement Framework
The Education Village Academy Trust is a place where learning has no limits.
What follows is an outline of our approach to continuous school improvement across our trust.
- Culture, values and vision
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. (Peter Drucker)
Our model for embedded and sustainable school improvement is founded on establishing organisational health and crafting and maintaining a culture in which people thrive. Our people are motivated to succeed because we afford them earned autonomy; they donate discretionary effort because they understand their place in a wider purpose; and they are committed to continuous improvement because of their desire to provide the very best learning experiences and outcomes for the children and young people we serve. We are always clear about our expectations. We keep things simple, continually and tightly focus on a small number of strategic priorities, and constantly communicate our shared values and vision. Our trust and all our member academies express our values in short mnemonics, which facilitate memory and provide constant reference points and benchmarks to guide decision making and practice.
EVAT stands for:
- Excellence and high standards
- a can-do culture and no-excuses ethos
- putting children and young people first
- behaving ethically
- Ambition and aspiration for all
- irrespective of background or barriers – being truly inclusive
- we do more, better and faster, together
Effective communication is a significant factor in raising morale and developing a team ethic. Our pupils and staff at all levels know explicitly what is expected of them, and know what support they will receive. Everyone knows what is happening, and if we say something is going to happen, it happens! This simple commitment forges trust and confidence, and ensures everyone is clear about the parameters within which they work and learn.
- Leadership and management
Our ‘Leadership Cycle’ is instrumental in creating cohesive and well-formed leadership teams that thrive on collective success and a communicated understanding of what each individual and every other team member is delivering and when.
Leadership visibility and availability for stakeholders are key to school success. They build confidence, enhance reputation and encourage community engagement.
Our aims are to recruit, retain and develop the very best people. We firmly believe that a great education requires great teachers and great support staff. We have a clear and focused people strategy, with a comprehensive people offer. We have an extensive CPD programme for colleagues at all career stages, founded on the experience and expertise of our employees across our full range of provision for ages 2-19, in both mainstream and specialist settings. Together with our partnerships with top-quality external providers, this means that we are able to successfully meet any and all people development and wellbeing needs.
In all our settings, a broad and balanced curriculum that is ambitious for all learners is a sine qua non. Ofsted inspectors have repeatedly praised our academies for these features of our curricula. We deploy curriculum leaders from across the trust to ensure that any identified areas for improvement in curriculum and/or pedagogy are rapidly addressed. Teams of leaders work together to continually develop and hone curricula to meet the changing needs of learners and to ensure curriculum continuity and academic progression at all key points of transition.
- Pastoral support / Personal development / Behaviour & attitudes
We ensure a clear focus upon listening, supporting and nurturing, and ensuring children and young people are happy and successful. In line with our values, we treat children and young people as individuals and support them in overcoming barriers to their learning. Systems of rewards and consequences are appropriate to age and need, and address any negative behaviours in a fair and consistent manner. Again, expectations are made explicit and constantly communicated with clarity and simplicity.
Cross-trust working ensures consistency in terms of: attendance management and improvement; ‘poverty proofing’ and supporting families in meeting cost-of-living challenges; and addressing difficulties in mental health and wellbeing. All so that learners are afforded every chance to achieve their full potential.
- Use of research evidence and networking
The use of research is fundamental to all our school improvement work. Where, through rigorous quality assurance, a need has been identified, we deploy practice that is proven to have a significant impact whilst also providing good value for money. Approaches are derived from a range of sources, including EEF research and good practice guides, partnerships with HEIs (such as work we are currently undertaking with Durham University on Autism Spectrum Conditions), and/or from other successful schools or trusts. We also routinely conduct internal action-based research and lead on improvement projects beyond EVAT, such as a programme we have developed and implemented with 22 Darlington schools to improve science pedagogy and curricula across the primary and secondary phases.
We are an outward-facing, but highly selective trust in terms of our improvement initiatives. On the rare occasion that we are in need of adding to our internal capacity and/or expertise to address an improvement need, we are able to draw upon our extensive networks and strategic alliances with some of the top-performing trusts in the region and nationally.
- Monitoring and evaluation
As a trust, monitoring and evaluation provide a toolkit that is fundamental to continuous improvement and that drives non-threatening support mechanisms, where we identify opportunities to further develop practice and enhance impact. Our approach is holistic and all-encompassing, a 360-degree evaluation of all key aspects of the quality of education. We use peer review and external experts to moderate and verify our own self-evaluation, thus ensuring accuracy and consistency.
- Learning environment
Our mission is to provide exceptional learning experiences for all our learners. In order to deliver on this mission, we ensure learning environments are of the highest quality and that they facilitate and enable learning. We have established a set of standards by which each setting is assessed, in order that we meet the entitlement of our learners to an attractive and welcoming environment, that is appropriately resourced and conducive to success.
Right across EVAT, our members, trustees and governors provide the strong and ambitious non-executive leadership that is fundamental to sustainable and embedded school improvement. They possess a clear shared vision for the trust now and into the future, and possess the full range of skills, experience and expertise to help us realise that vision.
Clearly delineated roles and responsibilities, including those of members of our Education Standards Committees, ensure a keen focus on all areas of Ofsted EIF judgment.
A well-honed induction for all new governance leaders and a comprehensive, modularised training and development programme ensure governance is of the highest standard.
- Civic role
We collaborate with all other relevant public services to ensure our children and young people and their families receive the most appropriate multi-agency support in a timely fashion. This work is particularly important to school improvement because it supports good attendance and assists pupils and students in being ready to learn and achieve.
We also engage meaningfully with the wider community in myriad ways in order to impact positively on the education experience of the children and young people we serve.