Over the past five years, STEP Academy Trust has established a strong partnership of seven academies covering three local authorities in South London. Driven by the Trust’s mission – to improve the life chances of all children, where we have the capacity to make a difference – the Board of Trustees has recently committed to extend STEP’s moral purpose into East Sussex. A coastal area with a shortage of strong academy sponsors, Trustees believe the time is right make a real difference. Working closely with East Sussex County Council and the Regional Schools Commissioner the Trust aims to establish a group of schools using the same approach that has served our existing STEP Academies so well.
On 1st September 2016, our first partner academies in East Sussex will join the STEP family: Hawkes Farm Academy in Hailsham and Breakwater Academy (formerly Meeching Valley Primary School) in Newhaven. Trustees are delighted to have appointed two excellent STEP Head Teachers to develop our new partnerships. Jeremy Meek, who joined STEP in January and has been working across the Trust preparing for his new role, will lead Hawkes Farm Academy. Ian Rogers, who has spent the past two years as Deputy Head Teacher of Gonville Academy, will lead Breakwater Academy.
In January 2017, Newhaven Academy, Marshlands Academy, White House Academy and Hailsham Academy will join STEP Academy Trust. Currently members of Lilac Sky Schools Academies Trust, the schools will be re-brokered into STEP, establishing a sustainable partnership of STEP Academies in East Sussex. We are pleased that Paul Glover, STEP Deputy CEO, will oversee this exciting development for our Trust.
As a UNICEF Rights Respecting School, the pupils of Applegarth Academy felt compelled to question the way children are frequently portrayed by charities. Noting the right of every child to be treated with dignity, they wrote to a number of charities expressing their concern over the depiction of children in advertising campaigns.
STEP Academy Trust was pleased that The Guardian Newspaper featured Applegarth Academy’s campaign in an article entitled, “Schoolkids challenge charities’ ‘undignified’ images of children”.
Finally, after navigating many obstacles, Heathfield Academy opened for business. STEP’s seventh partner, opened on it’s temporary site—Robert Fitzroy Academy. The school, part of REAch2 Academy Trust, has very kindly agreed to accommodate Heathfield in its first year of operation, whilst its permanent home is being built.
Mrs O’Keefe and Mrs Atkinson (Joint Head Teachers) and their team have worked tirelessly to ensure Heathfield Academy opened successfully. Our thanks go to them. However, it is the parents and, of course, the children of Heathfield Academy who have made this first half term so special. Having taken the “leap of faith” to join a school that did not previously exist, their energy and enthusiasm for STEP’s latest partner, has been remarkable.
On Friday 10th July, Year 6 children from across the STEP Trust gathered at Angel Oak Academy to celebrate their individual and collective achievements. Primarily a day of fun, the children engaged in a range of activities including circus skills, singing and sports.
The afternoon began with an inspirational talk from Margaret and Barry Mizen, who relayed their son Jimmy’s story. Through their own tragic experience, they shared a message of hope, reminding our children that they have the power to make a positive difference. Fittingly, the day conclude with a rousing rendition of “United We Stand”, led by the brilliant John Fisher of We Sing U Sing.
A wonderful day was had by all, once again illustrating the power of partnership through STEP.
The STEP Academy Trust Board of Directors have made the commitment to become a London Living Wage employer with effect from April 2015. This means that all directly employed members of staff will be paid the Living Wage as a minimum – currently £9.15 an hour in London. This is significantly higher than the current national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. More information about the Living Wage can be found at http://www.livingwage.org.uk/.
The London Living Wage, which employers choose to pay on a voluntary basis, is set independently and updated annually and is calculated according to the basic cost of living in London. The London Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay calculated according to a combination of the costs of living in London and 60% of the average wage. This gives the wage rate needed to give a worker in London enough to provide their family with the essentials of life, including a cushion against unforeseen events.
One of the first Multi-Academy Trusts to be accredited as a London Living Wage Employer, The STEP Academy Trust is committed to addressing the effects of poverty and closing the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils. This commitment also encompasses how we pay our staff, all of whom are vital to the success of our Academies. We have a moral obligation to investing in them and this includes the introduction of the London Living Wage to help ensure everyone is able to provide for themselves and their families.
The Directors are proud of this significant achievement for the Trust and believe that the move to the London Living Wage underlines our commitment to ensuring that all of its employees receive a fair rate of pay for their outstanding work.
The STEP Academy Trust is delighted that Applegarth Academy has been judged a “good” and “improving” school in its recent Ofsted Inspection. The excellent report highlights the pivotal role of senior leaders, most notably the Headteacher and Deputy, in rigorously driving improvements. Given that Applegarth Academy brought together three previously failing entities – Infants, Juniors and a Speech and Language Centre (SALC) – the judgment is a remarkable achievement. The Enhanced Learning Provision (ELP), formerly SALC, was singled out for particular praise.
“The ELP is a strength of the school. Pupils make excellent progress here because of the high-quality provision and excellent leadership.”
It was also pleasing that Inspectors recognised the strong support of STEP in partnership with Croydon LA.
“The academy trust has provided very effective support for the academy and works very well alongside colleagues in the local authority, who provide equally effective support. This joint approach is based on the fact that they both see that they are supporting ‘children from Croydon’.”
Congratulations to all the staff, pupils and parents of Applegarth Academy, as well as the extended STEP family.
Applegarth Academy Ofsted Report, March 2015
The Trust is delighted that Paul Glover, STEP Executive Headteacher, has been designated a National Leader of Education (NLE). This is deserved recognition for Paul’s excellent work to rapidly improve standards in vulnerable partner schools, including: Applegarth Academy, Wolsey Junior Academy and Angel Oak Academy (formerly Gloucester Primary School). Paul joins Mark Ducker as the second NLE attached to National Support School, Gonville Academy.
On 1st February 2015, Angel Oak Academy (formerly Gloucester Primary School) joined The STEP Academy Trust. As well as benefiting from full membership of STEP, Angel Oak will join forces with partner STEP Academies to further the mission and vision of the Trust.
On Wednesday 12th November 2014, the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, issued an Academy Order enabling Gloucester Primary School to join STEP as a sponsored academy.
In accordance with current requirements, the Trust will organise a period of consultation – 24th November to 16th January – which will seek to engage all key stakeholders. In addition, STEP will work closely with Southwark Local Authority to ensure Gloucester Primary School converts as planned on 1st February 2015.
On Tuesday 30th September, the Governing Body of Gloucester Primary School voted unanimously to seek permission from the Department for Education to become an academy sponsored by The STEP Academy Trust. We are delighted that the rapid improvements evident since the start of the partnership earlier this term, persuaded governors that a long-term partnership is in the best interests of the school. Directors too are in full agreement that extending the STEP family to include Gloucester, will advance the mission and vision of our Trust.
The next stage is for the Secretary of State to consider the request. If approval is given, an Academy Order will be passed and the school community will begin a formal consultation on academy conversion.