7th September 2023
Dear Parents and Carers
I do hope that you managed to enjoy a break of some kind over the Summer period. Typically, the weather has improved just in time for pupils to return!
I am writing with great news about the performance of children across the Trust schools, as well as enclosing a copy of the recent Ofsted MAT inspection report. 2022-23 was perhaps the most successful year to date for the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership, despite a strong track record of the Trust over the many years. Pupils performed exceptionally well in national assessments at primary and secondary schools and in our special school provisions.
Our primary schools saw 78% of children make a ‘Good Level of Development’ in Reception, some 10% above national rates and in Year 1, 86% of pupils passed their phonics screening test, again some 10% above national rates. The correlation between a good start in primary school, later success in secondary school and later in life is extremely strong and these early achievements for children are vital for future learning and adulthood.
At Key Stage 2 (Year 6), 67% of pupils achieved Age Related Expectation in reading, writing and maths combined, compared to 59% of pupils nationally. Overall, primary schools have achieved some excellent results and this year looks likely to be the best year ever for outcomes in our primary schools.
In our secondary schools, more pupils than ever passed English and Maths at GCSE at grade 4 or above – an outstanding achievement given this year’s publicised down-grading of GCSE exams. The positive trend continues for the higher grades too, where the percentage of 9-7 grades matched the schools’ strong performances of 2022. GCSE pupils appear, on first measures, to have made very good progress and the Trust has a predicted progress 8 score of 0.3. This figure suggests our pupils achieved 1/3 of a grade higher for each of their exams compared to pupils in other schools of a similar ability nationally. Provisional results place the Trust in the ‘well-above national progress’ category.
Results for A levels and other Level 3 exams also remained strong and over 75% of pupils across schools in the Trust secured their first choice university place. The percentage of A* to C at A level remains above 80%, despite a drop nationally. I am sure you will join me in wishing all pupils who are moving on to university, starting apprenticeships or moving to college, the very best of luck for the future.
In our special schools we have also seen incredible progress of pupils. Naturally, we cannot always measure this progress with formal tests or exams. What is clear though, is that every pupil who completed their education is now going onto a college course, or into employment, regardless of their special educational need. A number of significant employers work closely with our special schools to provide employment opportunities, including Center Parcs, The Newt in Somerset and the Shaw Trust. For our most vulnerable young people, this is an incredible step forward and one that will see them able to make a positive contribution to society as they move into adulthood.
It is with great delight too, that I am able to share with you a copy of the Ofsted MAT inspection report for Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership. The Trust was inspected over a week-long process in July and the Lead Inspector found it difficult to suggest any areas for improvement. Whilst we are not perfect, we are doing extremely well and have a strong track record in improving schools that are not yet ‘good’ and sustaining schools that are already strong. I hope that you are pleased that the Trust, which oversees the school or schools that your child or children attend, is seen as a ‘high-performing’ organisation, which is making a real difference to the quality and standards of education. This Trust inspection also confirmed what we have seen at school level. In 2022-23, 13 schools in the Trust had an inspection and all 13 were graded either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Some of these schools had not been rated ‘good’ in over 15 years, but with the Trust's support and help, they have made real and tangible improvements.
The Trust has now grown to 32 schools and will soon have another large comprehensive school, based in Frome, as part of the family. These are exciting times, but as the size of the Trust continues to increase, we are now organising schools in what we are calling ‘local hubs’. These hubs will allow neighbouring schools, or those with similar characteristics, to support and challenge one another so that we never see standards slip. Each hub will have a Hub Lead who is a senior member of Trust staff or a Headteacher of one of the schools in the hub. Naturally, all schools will continue to work to the Trust vision and ensure that all children attend a ‘good’ or better school – it has always been my firm belief that a particular postcode, or ability to buy education, should not determine whether a child goes to a ‘good’ or better school.
As a final point, I want to share with you this year’s areas of focus, so that the Trust can continue improving. These are:
I do hope this coming year is going to be an exciting and fruitful one. I wish all our new pupils and parents & carers the very best of luck.
Mr A Williams