The Wessex Learning Trust

Currently the Wessex Learning Trust consists of 8 schools around the Cheddar Valley in Somerset that work in a collaborative fashion delivering education from 2 years of age up to 19.

All schools are Ofsted Good or Outstanding. The Trust recognises the benefits of working with others to enlarge the Trust so that further expertise can be developed to benefit the young people the Trust serves and enhance professional learning & development opportunities for it staff.


Values and Vision

The Trust believes in high quality education and personal development for its young people, strongly rooted in our communities. It believes in valuing all staff, developing a growth mind-set around distributive leadership and opportunity.

Hope, belief and aspiration are woven through what we do, comparable to words written through a stick of rock.

This means:

  • An holistic approach to developing the whole child
  • Outstanding academic outcomes for all young people regardless of background or ability
  • First class personal development and welfare that develops self-confidence, self-esteem, resilience and promotes a ‘can-do’ culture
  • Participation opportunities for all young people developing and celebrating the particular talents and skills that each person will have inside
  • An exceptional business and community support network that provides aspiration and guidance
  • Developing well-rounded young people with polite manners, who care and respect others for who they are

What is crucial:

  • Is that we are focused on the child, not a business system
  • Is the aged 2 to 19 synonymous Educational system that we stand for. It is about nurturing children from the earliest of ages and promoting their academic and personal development in every stage, with every member of staff sharing responsibility for that child’s journey through the one-education system that is Wessex
  • Our values and ethos permeate through that entire journey including our Christian values where appropriate
  • Our teachers and schools are focused on their core business of teaching, learning & assessment. This is what we do. Our care systems look after our young people’s welfare and nurture their development. This is what we do
  • We nurture our staff, working in a collegiate fashion, to promote bottom up innovation, intrinsic motivation and a strong sense of self & purpose

What is imperative:

  • Is that we are anchored in our communities. It takes a whole community to educate a child.
  • Is that each school in the Trust serves its community. They are schools that are at the heart of those communities and the Trust will keep those hearts beating. We preserve and champion the Church ethos in those schools where appropriate and work as partners with the Diocese
  • We are not restricted to three tier system schools and are open to primary and secondary schools joining
  • That we are inclusive to our communities supporting our schools and young people; albeit with mentoring, reading, business advocacy or enterprise
  • We focus on learning and development. That is our CORE business
  • Our business systems make our core business work effectively within the vision & values that we have articulated
  • We have strong business systems leadership allowing our Headteachers to focus on developing young people, ensuring that we maximise the impact of our income for the sake of our young people
  • The Trust sees itself as a guardian of Christian values within schools that are VC or VA and as a solution to keep village schools open and are active members of those communities

Our Benefits

  • The Trust is able to sustain small village schools, both economically and through school leadership & support services
  • The distinctive Christian nature of Church VC and VA schools is sustained and promoted. Wessex is a guardian of church schools. The Trust actively works with the Diocese as a key partner
  • The Trust promotes community involvement, local support, building capacity & rooting schools in the communities they serve. This builds confidence & self-esteem in our young people supporting families and those communities
  • The ‘one-school’ 2 – 19 ethos builds an effective system that expedites progress and personal growth across natural communities
  • With the reduction in local authority capacity the Trust is building a vibrant learning-focused community with Somerset schools, growing a school development and improvement team, co-ordinating training and development for staff
  • We are growing leadership support & coaching for our headteachers and school leaders
  • Succession staff planning is a key priority for our schools
  • We are looking to share some subject specialists, look at joint staffing models and support ‘gaps’ when there is illness
  • We are planning joint young people conferences on learning, competitions, sport, and pupil/student councils
  • A Trust-wide Disadvantaged Student strategy is be instigated so that every child, no matter where they come from has an equal chance in life
  • A Trust-wide SEND provision is being planned so that children with any learning need or disability would benefit from a joined up approach as they moved through the education system
  • The Trust is developing a shared community business strategy, creating a wider business and enterprise network and opportunities for developing employability skills for its young people
  • We are developing subject hub networks across the Trust providing guidance and motivation for teachers / leaders
  • Specialist ‘centres /hubs’ in Music and Modern Foreign Languages will be created, promoting ‘minority’ subjects ensuring that KS4 and Sixth Form courses are sustained and promoted
  • It is the promise of the Trust to keep community learning partnerships intact and promote the one-school education system in those areas
  • Wessex is not interested in branding all schools the same. Schools must maintain and grow their uniqueness and local relationships. Names will not be changed. Logos will not be changed. This is about developing an education system that is focused on the child. School leaders will be nurtured and supported, giving headspace to lead the learning and development of young people. Local Governing Bodies will be enhanced to support their schools not forgotten or disbanded.

The Trust Board

  • The Board is chaired by Brian Kirkup, ex-Headteacher of Churchill School and also of Shaftsbury School, Dorset. Brian also comes with experience of school improvement and consultancy across the region and is a highly respected member of the local community
  • Also on the Board is the Rev John Angle an ex-Deputy Headteacher and teacher for more than 30 years. John is also a retired rector and non-stipendiary minister and former member of the Diocesan Board of Education and Wells Archdeaconry Warden of Readers. Previous experience as an Ofsted inspector and currently SIAMs inspector for the Diocese of Bath and Wells
  • The Board also benefits from the experience of an ex-Primary Headteacher and former primary adviser, Ofsted inspector and a teacher-trainer
  • The Trust Board has recruited two further ex-Headteachers to boost its educational development capacity
  • From a business perspective the Board benefits from: a Chartered Civil Engineer; A Director of Human Resources at an NHS Trust; A Director of a Marketing & PR company; two Chartered Accountants with Management Consultancy experience; a Business Development Manager, a Head of Business Management at an International Management company; a Chartered Building Surveyor. These Trustees sit on the business sub-committee of Finance and HR
  • The Trust has set up a School Improvement Team led by Sarah Hobbs, Assistant Head of Teaching & Learning at Kings and Lorna Richardson, Headteacher at Axbridge First School

There is a team of teaching & learning ambassadors that have been grown over a number of years that offer both a succession plan at Kings and also capacity to work across the Trust as it grows. There is also a strong skill set in current Trust schools. The School Improvement Team reports to the Executive Headteacher and to Trust Board sub-committee of School Standards & Improvement (SSI). The Trust Board ‘educationalists’ sit on the SSI committee and support school improvement both through advisory work and hands on quality assurance

New partners to the Trust will enhance the School Improvement Team. The Trust sees this is an exciting opportunity for schools to work together to benefit classrooms and young people.