Ten years on and it’s hard to believe that it all started with a vision and some paper and colouring pens. The vision was to create a Church Multi Academy Trust that would allow church schools to remain as church schools and continue the legacy of 200 years of church school education based on Christian values. We believe such schools enable children to flourish and to become all that God intended them to be. And in case you were wondering about the paper and colouring pens, they were for Jackie Waters-Dewhurst (now CEO of LAAT) and her colleagues to draw up the plan of how to do it!
Jackie began her journey as Diocesan Director of Education in Bristol where she started up one of the first Diocesan Trusts. She is passionate about retaining church schools and used what knowledge she had gained in Bristol to set up LAAT – The Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust.
However, there was no model, blueprint or support to guide her and Jackie recalls that there was a long line of people reaching around the block saying that she and her colleagues couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t do it. Determined to prove the doubters wrong, LAAT was established in 2013 by the Diocese of Lincoln as a Multi Academy Trust to build a mutually supportive family of academies in Greater Lincolnshire who support each other in providing the very best outcomes for their pupils.
Ten years on and LAAT has grown to 20 member schools, over 4,000 pupils and more than 600 staff and it is still growing. In addition to these impressive figures, the Trust’s income now stands at c£18 million and our capital spend is c£1 million. That’s quite a journey in just a decade.
Today, LAAT continues to support school improvement and Christian distinctiveness, whilst maintaining each school as a special and unique place in the heart of its unique context. LAAT has been approved by the Department of Education as an academy sponsor to operate a number of academies under a single charitable company. It welcomes applications from Voluntary Controlled, Voluntary Aided and Community schools from the full spectrum of Ofsted judgements.
Since it was established a decade ago LAAT has demonstrated its ability to provide excellent school improvement and back office support to its schools. The central team is used by LAs to give support to other schools and the Trust has a CPD offer which included 97 sessions in 2021 and which were offered to schools outside of LAAT.
In 2021, in recognition of its success in supporting teacher excellence, LAAT was selected as a Delivery Partner with the Church of England for the National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) programme for the East Midlands area. The Trust also hosts conferences which attract acclaimed national speakers with a wealth of experience in teaching, learning and leadership in schools. Open to staff in LAAT and non-LAAT schools, these annual events have covered a broad spectrum of challenging educational topics, from diversity and inclusion to independent thinking, all with the aim of improving learning and experiences for children and adults.
As part of the Trust’s 10 year anniversary celebrations LAAT has set up the Love As Action – Together Fund, our very own charity aimed at supporting school children who are lacking the things they need in order to access confidently the full life of school and the curriculum. Funds raised by the Trust will support any child within the family who needs it. All LAAT member schools and the central team are invited to join together for a huge fundraising effort to try and remove barriers, promote equality and champion inclusivity.
Funds will be made through the fund to School Leaders so that they may meet identified needs of individual pupils. It is hoped that this fund can provide items such as stationery, coats, school uniform or PE kit, lunchboxes, cookery ingredients, art or maths equipment. The fund can even be used to provide a bed, for example, or a bike if this means a child can get to school and access the curriculum fully.
We know that families are struggling and this is becoming all the more evident. At LAAT we want to do all we can to enable every child to live life in all its fullness and participate in school activities alongside their peers equitably. The Love As Action – Together Fund will be a lived-out expression of the Trust’s commitment to all children and our vision. We pray that the funds will meet the very real social needs in our schools and be witness to the generosity of God through his people.
As part of a year-long fundraising campaign representatives from across LAAT’s 20 schools and the central team will be participating in the Three Peaks Challenge which takes in the three highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales: Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Those brave enough to attempt this physically demanding challenge will be aiming to complete the circular trek, which covers 24.5 miles and a total ascent of over 1500 metres, within 12 hours.
Different paces will be set within the team with everyone challenging themselves and encouraging one another along the way. There will be a number of support staff positioned along the route – hopefully with a cup of tea! – and these points will also provide a haven for those who feel unable to complete all three peaks.
The intention of this sponsored event is to encourage each child and member of staff to walk or run one mile a day for 10 days from 15 to 26 May.
All money raised from their efforts will go to the Trust’s new Love as Action Together Fund. We hope that everyone will feel able to take part in this challenge and we invite parents and carers to join in on the last day and maybe enjoy some tea and cake with us to celebrate completing this 10-day challenge.
On 26 June we celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a wonderful service at Lincoln Cathedral. We were joined by our staff, pupils and key people from our journey so far.