Primary Learning Collaboration

It’s the little things that matter.

In September 2019 Wyndham Park and St Mark’s became a Primary Learning Collaboration. This is an exciting new chapter for both schools the main difference being two schools working with one headteacher, a single leadership team and one set of governors – united in one purpose. Two schools, one great primary education.

Both schools are already partners in Salisbury’s first multi-academy trust (Somerset Road Education Trust) set up in January 2015. Each school retains their proud names, characters and identities but will work more like a single primary school. This arrangement is now much more familiar to parents/staff and part of the challenging and changing landscape in education. There are several local examples already working and improving outcomes.

Several parents have asked if the schools are amalgamating. No is the short answer because there is not a good enough reason to do so. Indeed, in the long term, it would disadvantage both schools by doing so. We have looked carefully and concluded that we can preserve the unique ethos of each individual, popular school and at the same time provide something stronger and sustainable moving forward. It’s like a primary school, but better. This upgraded collaboration will enable us to create something significant, substantial and special for everyone connected now and in the future. We’ve worked together for years but this is a natural next step.

It will create a ‘primary education experience’ that can help us maximise high quality teaching and provide better outcomes for all children, including those who are highly able, have additional needs or those who are disadvantaged. By re-structuring we will be able to deliver a more effective and efficient education for the 630 children we will serve with a staff of approximately seventy committed professionals.

Bringing the schools into coherent alignment, something many parents/staff have alluded to previously as a great opportunity, will now allow us to deliver exactly that. It will create additional capacity amongst a staff of nearly a hundred. This will have benefits in the short, medium and longer term for everyone. We believe we can deliver:

  • Better, broader offer for all children that will positively impact on standards for both schools
  • Better opportunities to share, to learn from each other and to develop best practice
  • More effective moderation, benchmarking etc to inform our primary provision
  • More opportunity to utilise specialist staff/knowledge e.g. Music, Computing, PE, Art, PSHE etc
  • More strategic oversight and therefore better coherence
  • More operational flexibility
  • More variety of roles and bespoke teacher and TA training
  • Better recruitment and retention of staff
  • Better opportunities for staff to work across the primary phase – beyond secondments
  • More efficient use of resources and therefore ensuring financial sustainability

One leadership model across two schools means that key elements can be carefully managed and duplication minimised. This can increase our effectiveness which will positive impact on standards, well-being and career development without jeopardising our ethos, relationships or personal development strengths. We believe over time we can create a self-improving school system that utilises the skills and experience of existing staff. It will also allow us to train, encourage and continue our ‘grow your own’ track record with staff at all levels.

Moving forward, focusing on what unites us rather than divides us, will be a powerful driver to provide the high quality education now and in the future. This is not to satisfy or appease OfSTED, quality assurance teams, government departments etc but to build something permanent and viable. Some parents have asked why we are doing this, after all on paper the trust loses one headteacher and shrinks two leadership teams and governing bodies to one. However, we don’t live in a paper world. Sometimes it’s more about what you gain and less about what you lose or perceive. Our challenge is to offer more with less in a more flexible way. Your challenge is to embrace something new and trust us deliver on our beliefs. We believe we’re better together. What do you believe?

Primary Learning Collaboration Handout to parents July 2019