19 April 2018

One of the largest primary only academy trusts in England, Enquire Learning Trust (ELT), which is based in Wakefield, has announced that 86.6 per cent of its pupils are now receiving a good or better standard of education.

The announcement comes after a string of remarkable Ofsted inspections in the last few weeks.  For most of the schools inspected, it was their first inspection since becoming part of ELT, which currently operates 26 academies from three hubs in Tees, Esk Valley and North Yorkshire, Humberside and Manchester.

Established in 2013, by Darren Holmes, chief executive and Ronnie Woods, director of learning and innovation, ELT believes that every child can be a successful learner, no matter their starting points.

The recent spate of positive Ofsted inspections would certainly support this view.  Roseberry Primary and Keelby Primary maintained their ‘good’ judgments.  Linden Road Academy in Manchester received a ‘good’ after struggling for several years with judgments of ‘requires improvement’ (RI) and at one stage, ‘special measures’ before joining ELT, while Elliston Primary in Humberside was awarded outstanding – even more impressive considering it was judged ‘require improvement’ at its least inspection in 2013.

Laceby Acres Primary in Humberside, another outstanding school, also recently received a letter from the Minister of State for School Standards, the Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, offering congratulations   on the school’s high level of progress in reading and writing which places them in the top two per cent of schools in England for KS1 and KS2 progress.

The latest stats show an improvement of some 17.6% when compared to figures available on conversion.  At that time, one school was inadequate, six were RI, 18 were good and one was outstanding.  Today, there are no inadequate schools, only three are RI, 18 are good but there are now five outstanding schools in ELT’s portfolio – which means that a further 1,450 ELT pupils are receiving a good or better education than previously.

ELT has earned a national reputation for its school improvement outcomes.  Trustees strongly believe in collaborative learning and three times a year runs an ‘Enquiry Programme’ to focus on an aspect of educational delivery to aid best practice transfers between schools and help staff improve every aspect of their performance.  

In its bid to ensure that its test results are above the national outcomes and for each child to make better than expected progress, there is a comprehensive continuing professional development focus for all staff, rapid internal promotion for those who earn it and an inclusive approach which allows motivated staff to work on beyond retirement guidelines if they wish to do so. As a result, ELT is fast becoming recognised as an excellent training ground for NQTs.

Commenting on these latest figures, a delighted Darren Holmes, said: “As we’ve grown, it’s been essential to constantly re-evaluate the way we operate so we could take on more schools, feeling confident that we had a strong infrastructure in place to support us.  We are aiming for 30+ academies in the long term.

“We have expanded our central team, which currently stands at 19 and offer a range of 32 operational services to our schools, including the introduction of a model of governance and scheme of delegation, the provision of HR support and an academy-wide improvement strategy.

“We also developed a series of three regional hubs so that schools could share best practice and expertise locally, which helps to facilitate our Enquiry Programme, allowing schools to share resources and costs.

“Typically, an ELT pupil will be 20 per cent below the national average on entry and will leave 6 per cent above.   Children must leave us being more curious to learn than when they arrived.  Some of our children are achieving great things and our teaching staff are achieving miracles – we use Twitter to share the good news at a school level.

“Our operational model sees the core team moving around schools all the time – we are very visible.  For example, I spend 85 per cent of my time working with headteachers on their quality of provision, their school improvement plans and improving capacity.

“There is something profoundly important about primary education.  If we get it right, children will reap the benefit of that for the rest of their lives.  Every day we are enacting our vision, striving to get it right and aiming to change lives.”