Case Study

Matt Freeston – CEO of LEARNERs’ Trust

Location
Derbyshire / Rotherham, UK

Introduction to LEARNERs’ Trust

Matt Freeston: I was the head in Derbyshire of a single school that worked in fairly challenging circumstances. At the end of that time, I was actually quite out-facing and wanted to look at how we could keep the work that we’d done and move it forward, perhaps working across a couple of schools.

We took an opportunity to form a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), the DfE were really good and said we need a plan, so we went ahead and made one and then spent about 6 months designing the workings of the trust and how it would all look when it was at a particular size.

We designed the ‘Hub’ idea around how the biggest service would stretch; we’d say that 18 average sized primary schools can be served by one HR Officer, one Finance Officer.

The Assessment Challenge
The three schools that started from Rotherham were using a different system which was really good and was very much about formative assessment, user friendly and visual in its feedback. It allowed us to identify gaps and it worked fairly well, but it wasn’t particularly flexible. When the curriculum changed and our thoughts around assessment changed, it couldn’t change with us.

That was the point when the heads, working together, went out to the market and came to the conclusion that Classroom Monitor was something that wasn’t only right for that particular point in time, but was flexible enough to keep changing as we wanted to change.

Supporting the needs of a MAT
At MAT level, originally I was thinking that it needs to end in the classroom it shouldn’t end at the trust, although we can challenge and support schools, we can’t connect directly into the classroom a lot of the time unless our resources go in there.

But, the further we go down the line, the more we’re identifying trends, the more we’re looking at strengths and weaknesses. For example, we could look across all of our standardised testing data and work out where the gaps in maths are and either buy resources or find resources and send them to schools which would help fill some of those gaps.

Impact of Classroom Monitor
The assessment system is easy enough to fill in, the input mechanism and the formative way in which you use that is brilliant for teachers.

The reports that come out of Classroom Monitor at the end of the year describe the achievements of the children in the curriculum, which leaves our teachers just writing a personal comment about how lovely the children are they’ve worked with, how proud they are of the things they have done and staff are coming back and saying ‘that’s the only bit I wanted to do anyway’ and it’s bringing enjoyment back into report writing, which is a massive thing for teachers.”

The heads, working together, went out to the market and came to the conclusion that Classroom Monitor was something that wasn’t only right for that particular point in time, but was flexible enough to keep changing as we wanted to change.”

Matt Freeston, CEO of LEARNERs’ Trust

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