West Lakes Academy became a Multi-Academy Trust because we wanted to work with others who sought to transform their children’s educational experience in the same way ours have over the past eleven years. Thanks to our sponsors, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and the University of Central Lancashire, we have been ‘Changing Lives Through Learning’ for over a decade, carving out our own nationally-recognised performance.
This has continuously relied on improvement in every aspect of school organisation and, inevitably, in order to sustainably improve other schools, there is learning for everyone involved. Arlecdon School, along with Thornhill School, became the first intrepid explorers in to our world where together, learning from each other and alongside each other we are establishing school improvement capacity; supporting each other with a forensic analysis of our collective improvement needs; supporting and deploying world-class staff in all areas; providing access to stunning practice, innovation and expertise at all levels; and constantly reviewing improvements so we can make changes to become even better.
As we reflect on the last term, one of the key aspects of success is the fact that Arlecdon has a boundless energy and capacity to support children. This capacity is founded in credible, experienced staff who diagnose a child’s needs and pull together the efforts of the staff team to change that child’s life through learning. This wouldn’t exist were it not for the selfless and unstinting contribution of the Head Teacher, Wendy Figes, who is wonderfully supported by everyone who works at the school.
Whilst there is no single way to create and lead a Multi-Academy Trust, I believe what we’ve started with Arlecdon and Thornhill Schools is special. Our design principles (the secret recipes!) are intended to share the wealth of best practice that exists and embed it in the strategic planning and thinking that underpin a legacy of nation-beating performance. The children who get the benefit of that life-changing experience then have the additional benefit of having priority access to West Lakes Academy (subject to our admissions criteria).
If you visit the school, you feel the ambition: it seeps out of the very fabric of the building as well as the staff. This is because the staff are the best leaders, teachers and support staff; deployed to ensure that as many children as possible have their lives changed through learning. We are proud to be associated with such a special school.