Gill Booth, Executive Head of The Day Spring Trust. (Picture: Keith Blundy)

Two schools which are part of the Church of England Diocese of Durham’s family of secondary schools are using their special blend of distinctiveness and collaboration to move their respective schools forward.

The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Ryhope Sunderland and its sister academy The Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton both part of the Dayspring Trust Multi-Academy Trust is a shining example of a collaborative approach to education, which others including the Prime Minister say is key to the future of the nation.

Writing the foreword of the ‘Parliamentary Review’ The Prime Minister outlines four “grand challenges” for economic growth. She says: “Our modern Industrial Strategy means government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards, and transforming technical education.”

The prime minister’s comments offer a pertinent insight into the issues that head teachers and educational bodies face if they are to flourish. This is something that is aptly demonstrated through the kind of collaborative approach taken by the Day Spring Trust.

Gill Booth, the executive headteacher outlines the Dayspring Trust’s vision for education saying: [it is] … “to forge a supportive and challenging family of schools; to provide excellent education within a strong Christian community; to resource their students for wise and generous living; and, importantly, to promote a sense of togetherness.

“Although part of a trust, we also pride ourselves on keeping the distinctiveness of each academy in which each child can reach their full potential.  Our ethos and vision embody the fact that we operate two inclusive neighbourhood schools that work collaboratively with each other and their communities. In interviews, one of our key questions when appointing new staff is whether they will embrace our ethos, something that continued in our development of staff.”

Brian Janes, (Head Teacher at Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy) and David Airey, (Head Teacher at the Venerable Bede Church of England Academy), both share the trust’s vision which has led to both Academies being rated as ‘Good’ in all categories when they were last inspected by Ofsted. Ian Ramsey had been put into special measures before it joined the trust in 2014, so to achieve ‘Good’ in less than 3 years was ‘a massive improvement’ says Gill Booth. She further comments: “Now that we have received our Good judgment, we are determined to move the academy forward, improving outcomes and allowing all of our young people to flourish. Doing this, naturally, will involve continuing to adhere to our principles – the animating force behind human action.”

Gill said: “We are delighted with the things we have been able to achieve through a shared sense of self; the culture we have created is wholly collaborative and underpinned by strong Christian values.

“We are now looking to expand this collaboration by welcoming other schools into the trust in the coming years.”