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New Orwell Multi-Academy Trust unites four Ipswich primaries to drive development

PUBLISHED: 15:40 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 27 April 2017

Orwell Multi-Academy Trust chief executive Anna Hennell James (centre) and chairman of trustees Roger Fern (right) with Halifax primary School pupils after its last ofsted. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Orwell Multi-Academy Trust chief executive Anna Hennell James (centre) and chairman of trustees Roger Fern (right) with Halifax primary School pupils after its last ofsted. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Four Good primary schools in Ipswich are eyeing Outstanding Ofsted ratings in the future after converting to academies under a new umbrella organisation.

Ipswich mayor and a former headteacher Roger Fern is one of the board members for the Orwell Multi-Academy Trust. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich mayor and a former headteacher Roger Fern is one of the board members for the Orwell Multi-Academy Trust. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Orwell Multi-Academy Trust was launched on April 1 as the umbrella trust for Handford Hall, Springfield Infant, Willows and Halifax primary schools in Ipswich, as part of a continued tie-up between the establishments.

The schools had previously shared some elements of the curriculum and serve similar catchment areas, but the tie-up under the Orwell MAT aims to develop the schools with teacher training, sharing expertise, additional shared resources and best practice.

Anna Hennell James, who has moved from her role as headteacher at Halifax Primary School to become the chief executive of the trust, said: “The reason we have come together is because the staff and heads all believe that collaboration is the key to unlocking potential to create excellent school communities, and coming together in the trust gives lots of exciting opportunities.

The consultation period attracted positive responses, with a number of events now being lined up to help the schools familiarise with each other – including a meet between the school councils, after-school staff events and a series of open days for trustees and governors to visit each of the establishments.

The Willows Primary School in Downing Close, Ipswich, is one of the schools. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Willows Primary School in Downing Close, Ipswich, is one of the schools. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Roger Fern, board member and chairman of the trustees said: “It’s going to take a little while for things to settle down and the big impact to happen because it is a new way of working, but it is four good schools working together.

“There is good teaching, and much of it is actually outstanding, so all four are working towards achieving Outstanding [Ofsted status] in the future. The early signs are that we are well on our way to achieving that.”

Bosses said uniforms for the schools would not change, and pupils and parents would notice little change initially while long-term plans were being firmed up.

But an expansion of the trust into other schools – including secondary schools – has not been ruled out.

“As a trust we intend to grow,” Mrs Hennell James said. “We haven’t limited ourselves to primary but we are open to working with any like-minded schools to improve outcomes for education in Ipswich.”

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