In October 2010, the local education authority asked leaders at the Glyn School to help nearby Danetree Primary School, which had no permanent head teacher.
Glyn’s own experience in rapid transformation from being rated as satisfactory to outstanding by Ofsted inspectors across seven terms between 2006 and 2009, was thought to be what Danetree needed. The resulting success saw the schools form a permanent link under the name the GLF, which now looks after 41 schools across five local education authorities.
Glyn’s headteacher at the time was Jon Chaloner, now the Chief Executive Officer at GLF.
“Glyn was a National Support School and I was, and still am, a National Leader of Education. Danetree’s children needed leadership as soon as possible, so we put together a team to help, and things developed from there,” he said.
Initially set-up for a year, it became clear that the partnership was a win-win situation with a subsequent Ofsted inspection at Danetree noting its improvements. The local authority asked Glyn’s governors to extend the partnership to 2011-12 and it later became permanent.
“We were ideally placed to share our experiences of a rapid school improvement journey, but we soon learnt how the primary sector was different, so we couldn’t just replicate what we’d achieved at Glyn,” said Mr Chaloner.
“This has proved to be a valuable lesson for what GLF has gone on to become. One size does not fit all when it comes to schools, and things need to be made to measure. We always bear that in mind.
“Danetree needed leadership and it was a great opportunity for Glyn’s 12 Advanced Skills Teachers to get more experience in that field.”
Current head teacher at Danetree, Bethan Smith, said the school had benefited ‘unreservedly’ from the collaboration.
“As a result of effective partnership working, sharing expertise and learning from one another, Danetree has gone from strength-to-strength. The highly skilled central team provides support and challenge which has enabled all schools in the trust to work effectively to achieve a common goal,” she said.
In September 2012, GLF was founded, and now comprises schools which have chosen to join, brand new schools and three more sponsored schools.
“Our blend of schools is strategic, rather than random. Expansion has needed to be based upon the geography of our existing schools as well as being in a position to support all schools, whatever their performance at that time,” said Mr Chaloner.
The current head teacher at Glyn, Matt Duffield, said it had been a ‘remarkable journey’ since the schools first forged a partnership.
“We are delighted that this association has developed into a much richer and broader relationship with the 40 other schools,” he said.
Despite the group identity, the GLF is keen for schools to remain individual and linked to their local community.
The end of a decade is a natural time to both reflect and to look forward, and Mr Chaloner said GLF’s proudest achievement is its pupils.
“Their personal achievements are vast and these are enabled through the partnerships between home, school and the trust,” he said.
“Our schools are bound by a sense of purpose for our children and their families, and our leaders and governors contribute in many ways to the group’s continued development. We are one team, with many aspirations for each school.”
“In five years’ time we’ll still be here, supporting schools to be the best they possibly can despite all the challenges that are presented every day,” he said.
“Education is essential for our society. Our schools will continue to be schools for their local communities, a place where all children who attend have the opportunity to ‘grow, learn and flourish’.”
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