Statement from Avanti Schools Trust
Friday 18th October 2019
As we get closer to the date of transfer we feel it would be helpful to set clarify how we anticipate the schools will operate during the spring and summer terms of 2020 and how we intend to undertake the promised curriculum review.
Post transfer and pre-curriculum review
New names for each school
When the schools join AST they will be, first and foremost, Avanti schools and will have Avanti in their title. In keeping with our existing family of schools, for the names of the schools we will not be adopting school names based on location. From the date of transfer the names of the schools will be as follows:
- Steiner Academy Bristol to change to Avanti Gardens School
- Steiner Academy Exeter to change to Avanti Hall School
- Steiner Academy Frome to change to Avanti Park School
During our initial consultation with stakeholders we stated that the names may also carry the tagline ‘inspired by Waldorf principles’. The AST Board has agreed to give acknowledgement to the origins of the schools but, at least until the curriculum review is completed, not to have a tag which ties AST to the Waldorf principles. Avanti has its own ethos and principles outlined in the Avanti Way document. Reference to the Steiner Waldorf origins will be provided on each of the school websites.
Teaching and Learning
AST’s Board of Trustees are clear that as state funded institutions there is a balance that needs to be struck in each of the three schools in order to ensure that the new curriculum that will be implemented in the three schools from September 2020 is ambitious and designed to give all learners the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. In the meantime, we (AST) need to be assured that the pupils have access to quality first teaching and that the delivery of the curriculum allows children to make progress. We are aware that parents have concerns regarding the teaching of phonics, literacy and numeracy particularly though not exclusively in the kindergarten phase. We are also cognizant of the need for each school to address some important and significant challenges as identified in the Section 5 Ofsted inspections for all three schools in autumn 2018 and the recent Section 8 monitoring visit at Steiner Academy Frome. We will be asking the newly appointed Hub Director to urgently review how we (AST) can better support a more systematic approach to improving teachers’ skills and this will include the teaching of reading and a renewed focus on developing children’s speaking and listening skills.
At the date of transfer the AST Board will appoint an Interim Hub Executive Board (IHEB) to oversee all three of the Avanti Schools in the south west region. The IHEB will have up to 5 members and will be chaired by a member of the trust board. The IHEB will fulfil all functions of governance as delegated by the AST Board and will oversee all three schools in a way that ensures improvement and promotes high standards of educational achievement.
Avanti Schools Trust has made clear that it values aspects of the educational insights of Waldorf education and this has been an important consideration for why we chose to express an interest in sponsoring the three SW schools. The aim of the planned curriculum review is to investigate how the curriculum in the three re-brokered schools can be aligned with aspects of Waldorf principles which are in synergy with the Avanti Way. The review team will be asked to consult with school based stakeholders about the scope of the planned review soon after the date of transfer. The Board of Trustees will be tasking the review team to report back in late March 2020 and to make clear recommendations regarding the curriculum offer in each school from September 2020. The desire of trustees is to provide a curriculum that is coherent and planned to be able to offer a sequence of learning opportunities that will provide cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for students’ future learning and employment.
Mike Younger, Chair Avanti School Trust Board. Nitesh Gor OBE DL, CEO Avanti School Trust
Update on the appointment of a new Hub Director
Monday 7th October 2019
I am pleased to confirm the appointment of Carolyn Dickinson as AST’s new the south west Hub Director. A former secondary headteacher Carolyn is currently a serving HMI and leads inspections of primary and secondary schools across the London region. Before becoming a teacher, Carolyn worked for Whitbread plc first in Research and Development and then moved to Corporate Communications working in Sheffield and London. Having gained an MBA and managing a number of projects which focused on young people Carolyn decided to become a teacher and commenced a secondary PGCE in Business Education in September 2000. Carolyn will take up her appointment from January 2020.
Statement from Avanti Schools Trust in relation to exemptions to KS1 testing
Friday 27th September
As parents and staff are aware the three Steiner Academies in the SW (Bristol, Frome and Exeter) are in the process of transferring into Avanti Schools Trust (AST). Currently all three schools have an exemption written into their funding agreements which means that KS1 pupils are exempt from testing. At the date of transfer to Avanti, the three Steiner Academies will become part of AST and will therefore be bound by the clauses of the AST Master Funding Agreement, which does not hold this exemption. Avanti will not be making a case to the RSC/DfE for exemptions to be included as there is no compelling and exceptional reason to do so and, as is the case with all academy transfers, DfE’s expectation is that the current model funding agreements be used in full.
You are also aware that AST is planning a curriculum review across all three schools in the coming months. This review will focus on the content of the schools’ current curriculum models and their alignment with and to the principles that underpin AST as outlined in the Avanti Way document. We want to make clear at this stage that reviewing the requirement for KS 1 testing will not be part of the review. However, we will be asking the review team to look into best practice in AST schools and nationally regarding how these tests are sensitively administered in the future.
Consultation regarding the significant change proposals for the 3 Steiner academies in the SouthWest
Friday 27th September
Click here for further details including the admissions consultation information.
Statement in relation to the transfer of SW Steiner Academies to Avanti Schools Trust
The AST Board of Trustees, subject to formal agreement with the Department for Education, has agreed to become the ‘incoming trust’ for the three SW Steiner Academies (Bristol, Frome and Exeter).
I am pleased to report that the AST Board has decided to progress ahead with the transfer of the three SW schools into Avanti. We are excited to welcome these schools into the Avanti family in what will be no doubt be a challenging but rewarding endeavour to provide the best possible education for the pupils of these three schools.
The Chair of the AST Board, Professor Mike Younger
AST will now be working with the academy principals, AMC Chairs and board members, staff and pupils to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer later in the year.
Further information - South West Region Steiner Academies – sponsorship and Avanti Schools Trust
25th June 2019
Please find below a link to Avanti's website with further information.
On this page there is lots of information including Frequently Asked Questions and how to send comments online.
Transfer of our schools to the Avanti Schools Trust
7th June 2019
Dear Parents and Staff,
We are pleased to announce that all three Steiner Academies – Bristol, Exeter and Frome – will be transferred together to the Avanti Schools Trust. Please find enclosed a letter from Lisa Mannall, Regional Schools Commissioner, with details of the decision.
We are delighted that there is now a clear direction for the future of the schools, building on Avanti’s successful approach to school improvement, whilst working to combine the Steiner-Waldorf principles. .
The next phase will include an active consultation period with parents and staff, led by the Avanti team. We are sure that there are many questions, but hope that this decision allows us to begin the next phase, moving forward as a group of schools, together.
It is important to note that the School Improvement Plans each academy have been working towards, to respond to the Ofsted findings, remain in place, and will continue to be the focus for staff and teachers at all of the academies.
We are grateful to Avanti for their commitment to our schools and are clear that it offers a great opportunity for renewal; to continue to improve the quality of education for the children; and to carry forward the contemporary and authentic vision at the heart of our schools.
Joss Hayes, Principal, Steiner Academy Bristol
Paul Hougham, Acting Principal, Steiner Academy Exeter
Nikki Doughty, Acting Principal, Steiner Academy Frome