You may have seen Gazette’s recent report about plans for three of Hemel Hempstead’s secondary schools to adopt co-operative trust status.
As the headteacher of Astley Cooper School, I am pleased to be able to give you more information about this exciting proposal.
I speak on behalf of my fellow heads at Adeyfield and Longdean when I say that we can all see the enormous benefits of this new partnership with the Co-operative movement for our students and our communities.
Adeyfield, Astley Cooper and Longdean have a collective ambition to continue to develop as wide a range of educational opportunities for our students as possible.
The three schools already work successfully together, and the Co-operative values of equality, openness and social responsibility strongly appeal to us as headteachers.
The proposal is to form a partnership of like-minded education leaders, who want to take the opportunity to work collaboratively for our community and who are determined to promote excellence through that collaboration.
Our intention is to become the East Dacorum Co-operative Trust which will link our schools even more closely, while allowing us to retain our separate and unique identities.
This will give us the opportunity to join a rapidly growing family of schools which is now 630 strong, with nearly 200 of those schools in London and the south east.
A recent report from the Department for Education said that ‘the research is clear – schools which are working in partnership arrangements are raising standards and improving at a faster rate.’
Our children and young people live in a rapidly changing world.
As I said to parents at our open evening last term, I believe that a school should be, among other things, a resource for the community and the wider society that it serves.
We can be fairly certain that the future will be different to the past.
Young people growing up now and going through school in the next ten years will have to stay in some form of education or training until they are 18 and could well have five or six different careers or occupations – perhaps including a period of self-employment – in their increasingly long working lives. We know that ‘jobs for life’ are increasingly a thing of the past .
In July last year, the chief executive of Young Enterprise predicted that ‘we will see as much change in the next 20 years as there was in the last 100 years.’ We have to prepare our next generations for that rate of change.
In education, we all have to get better in linking the world of learning with the world of work. The so called ‘soft’ skills of teamwork, communication and negotiation will be as important to your children in the future as knowing how to read, write and add up.
Co-op status will enable our schools to share collective teaching expertise and work with other partners, including local and national businesses, higher education and community organisations in order to enhance the range of opportunities we can offer our students.