Hertfordshire’s East Dacorum Co-operative Trust, composed of Adeyfield, Astley Cooper and Longdean Schools, which only came into existence on 1 July 2014, with the broad aim of improving the educational and social experiences of the students, parents and wider communities of the three schools, has achieved a lot in its first year. Alongside the establishment of the legal and practical infrastructure of the Trust, huge strides have been made towards achieving this aim.
Edward Gaynor, Headteacher of The Astley Cooper School, expanded on this, saying: “When we started this partnership a year ago we knew what we wanted to achieve in the long term but in the short term we had to make sure the structure of the Trust would help us deliver what we wanted. By getting the right partners such as Herts for Learning, The Rotary Club of Hemel Hempstead, BP, The University of Hertfordshire, Roundwood Park School and Lloyds Bank as Trustees we are in a strong position to do this as we develop the work of the Trust.”
With the help of these partners the Trust has run sessions for parents focusing on e-safety and parenting teenagers as they progress through school as well as a Microsoft-approved ICT course and it has begun work, through The Rotary Club, to develop drugs education resources to be used with teenagers both inside and outside of schools. Students have always been central to the process with the University of Hertfordshire running a workshop for 35 students identifying barriers both in and outside school that hold back their learning and how the Trust can help to overcome them. These ideas have fed into whole school improvement planning in the three schools.
Scott Martin, Headteacher of Adeyfield School, continued: “All three of the schools operate in the same context and have the similar issues. Working together enables us to develop unified and consistent solutions with students remaining at the centre of our school improvement priorities.” Staff have not missed out on the opportunities the Trust can provide with staff from the three schools collaborating on projects such as leadership skills, first aid training, IGCSE English, new A-Level Syllabuses and other curriculum changes.
The Trust has also received national and international attention. Joanna Dennis, a PHD student from the University of Manchester, recently visited the Trust as she had heard how much had been achieved in its maiden year. The Trust is also actively trying to support the building of a new secondary school in Bedomase, Ghana. Graham Cunningham, Headteacher of Longdean School, referred to “the large strides we have made this year by working together for the good of all the communities we serve”, saying. “It is great to see what a difference our work is having. We must not rest on our achievements but continue to do more.”
Plans for the next year are already underway and include developing the wider membership of the Trust so parents, staff and students are formally represented. However, as Graham Cunningham said “It is seeking the opportunities for all of our students that will drive what we do.”