The Ebor experience
By any measure, massive progress has been made since Ebor Academy Trust was established in 2013.
We continue to collect evidence, via Ofsted reports, parents and carers and from among our peers, that the systems and the approaches we adopt are making a positive difference to the educational landscape across the three local authority areas in which we operate – York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
We were initially formed to improve outcomes at a consistently failing school, which was the first to join our trust in February 2014. In January 2017 that school, Haxby Road Primary Academy, York, received its first positive inspection report in 17 years when it went from Special Measures to Good:
“There is a very strong partnership between the school and the academy trust; everyone speaks confidently about the gains this partnership has brought, particularly in terms of developing a culture of purpose and improvement” – Ofsted report January 2017.
We also have evidence of school improvement success in Ofsted reports of two primary schools we have helped in the East Riding of Yorkshire:
“Effective support has been provided through the Ebor Academy Trust, which has helped to improve the quality of teaching and leadership through individual coaching of staff” – Ofsted report, April 2016.
“You have been successfully supported by the Ebor Academy Trust to rapidly improve practice in monitoring and evaluating the work of the school” – Ofsted report June 2016.
A key Ebor objective is to raise standards in schools. We are steadily building upon our now-proven school-to-school support service to drive improvement in underperforming schools.
We have developed an extensive support model that uses a whole school immersion approach so as to quickly identify areas of improvement. This school-led system recognises that support is a resource for school leaders to give them clarity of focus on key areas for improvement within short timescales for implementation.
Areas where evidence of success has been recorded include identifying gaps and challenges, curriculum reform, improved tracking and reporting processes and improved lines of accountability.
There are four parts to our school improvement systems and teams:
- School-to-school practitioner support (current or potential middle leaders). We have 35 classroom practitioners accredited to be part of our school improvement teams. Each accredited class teacher member is committed to two days’ support work each half-term.
- Practising academy specialists (middle leaders/future senior leaders). We have highly experienced specialist teachers practising their craft in a school setting but have some time (two or three days per week) allocated to working across the trust in school improvement activity.
- Non classroom-based academy specialists (aspiring deputy headteachers). These work across the trust to accelerate improvement among schools in our group. To ensure they retain Wave 1 practice they are attached to a host school and buddy class and will be held accountable for a data set in an agreed subject area. They will also cover their buddy class teacher for 20 days each year.
- Director of Teaching and Learning. As aspiring headteachers these will work with and develop middle leadership in our schools. This role means holders work with the academy specialists under the leadership of an Executive Headteacher and NLE.
Collaboration: We passionately believe in a strong, collaborative approach with local authorities, governing bodies and school leaders. Cluster and collaborative working has been a key driver in sustained improvement in schools.
Leadership: Ebor currently has two accredited National Leaders of Education and eight accredited Specialist Leaders of Education on our team.
Financial and project management: We have considerable experience in project management. In 2014 the Educational Funding Agency approved nearly £2million of building improvement works and in 2015/16 we worked alongside North Yorkshire County Council to build and set up a new basic need provision primary school in Selby. A successful application to the DfE in 2016 will bring York its first free school, with the opening of the innovative Creative Arts Academy York. This is currently at pre-opening stage.
Supporting our workforce: We continually demonstrate our commitment to the future teaching workforce. As a founding member of the Ebor Teaching Schools Alliance we have a lead role in supporting new teachers through our Schools Direct programme.
International experience: We are particularly proud of, and value, our links with international partners in Europe and Asia, involving staff and student contact and exchange. These links ensure that our children and young people are prepared to be able to play their part in an increasingly global society.