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Witton Middle School


The Spire Church of England Learning Trust

Mr G L Roberts

The Spire Multi Academy Trust was established in February 2016 by St John’s Middle School in order to create a trust that would seek to collaborate with other schools to share good practice and to raise achievement.

The Trust is committed to developing outstanding practice to ensure all our children fulfil their potential.  The development of our staff is central to our school improvement strategy and the continuous professional development of our staff is a constant feature in all our schools.  Our partnership with the Church of England as a national NPQ delivery partner underpins this commitment.   We are very proud that each school very much retains its own ethos and identity, however, the culture and opportunity for staff development is one of the added benefits that a Multi Academy Trust can provide.  The Trust is a medium-sized Trust comprising four schools with approximately 1700 children.

The core ethos of the Trust can be summarised in three words:

  • Collaborate  - The Trust is committed to enabling schools to work together and learning from each other and sharing good practice.
  • Learn  - the culture of learning and being outward facing and striving to improve practice is paramount and fundamental to the working of the Trust
  • Achieve – in working together and learning from each other we will raise achievement and thereby improve life chances of the children in our care

Our success is underpinned by eight essential features:

  1. Shared aims – we are ambitious for all and we pledge to provide the best possible service for all the children in our classes.  We promise to care enough and to challenge enough, so we can say with honesty and pride that every child here is supported to become the best they can be, regardless of their circumstance or starting point.
  2. A relentless focus on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment – a compelling curriculum, skilful pedagogy and rich assessment
  3. A strong belief in the value and potential of every child, no matter what their background – an ethical excellence
  4. A deep commitment to professional development across the whole trust - high quality, meaningful learning for children and evidence-based, outward learning for staff.
  5. Commitment to the success of other schools in the trust as much as to the success of our own school – one for all and all for one
  6. Quality assurance.  That is, rigorous self-evaluation and peer review of the quality of work in all our schools
  7. Sharing data and using it analytically to improve our performance – raising standards higher, faster and stronger
  8. Using resources where they are most needed in the Trust.

The three-fold focus is inspired by the approach of Jesus Christ to His disciples, for He was teaching them about the new way of considering God’s love for humanity which is revealed in the New Testament. This over-arching paradigm of new hope and life was expressed through Christ’s ministry, as recorded in the four Gospels, and has continued through church history. It is here where He is succession planning, preparing the disciples for the time when there were to take His message to the world.

Consequently, the Acts of the Apostles, and aspects of the Letters of St. Paul, note how the early church was finding its way through collaboration, especially when Paul was sending followers to support the work of communities to whom he wrote. Learning occurs within the Gospels as Christ teaches those around Him in groups of differing sizes, as well as more individual teaching encounters. For example, there is the Sermon on the Mount compared to the meeting with the woman at the well. By reflecting regularly, as Christ did during his ministry, and considering the views of others, so collaborative learning creates informed and secure achievement as learners explore their potentials in the different spheres of human endeavours. There may be times when collaborators may not all agree, but they can disagree without being disagreeable, to paraphrase Archbishop Welby.

Holding together the three-fold focus is the prime consideration of the child as created in God’s image, a centrality for our collaborative learning. For as Jesus called to a child and brought them to the centre of the group where He was teaching, he said:

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”  Mark 9: 37

Our prayer for our work can be summarised in the words of this hymn:

We bring our children, Lord, today
As once they did in Galilee,
Embrace them with your love, we pray,
And bless each home and family.

On their behalf and in their name
Our own commitment we renew,
With them we die to sin and shame,
With them we live again in you.

Help us in all our ways to show
These growing souls your truth and grace,
Till they shall come themselves to know
The beauty of the Father’s face.

Elizabeth Cosnett