New education trust promises to 'raise standards further'

An ambitious new education trust which includes a Black Country school is promising to further raise standards "through collaboration and shared expertise".

Claire Pritchard, CEO of the new Broadleaf Partnership Trust.
Claire Pritchard, CEO of the new Broadleaf Partnership Trust.

The Broadleaf Partnership Trust, which welcomed Perryfields Academy in Oldbury in May, aims to combine best educational practice with a strong financial foundation for partners, while ensuring that its schools retain their own individual character.

Now the partnership is planning to grow further with discussions with more schools already underway.

Chief Executive Officer Claire Pritchard said that Broadleaf’s name aimed to reflect the organic growth the partnership hoped to see, as well as the diversity of the schools it included.

“The Broadleaf name is perfect,” she said, “because it captures the idea of a protective environment, where all of our schools can work together as a family.

“At the same time, in nature every leaf is different - much like our schools – and Broadleaf won’t be standardising everything about our schools because they each have their own strengths and serve unique communities.

“It’s about celebrating and recognising what is great about each school, and then utilising those areas of expertise to share best practice across our family.”

Mum-of-three Claire, 47, is originally from Walsall, where she began her career in education at a federation of two local schools, before moving to the Academy Transformation Trust, a large academy trust with 21 sites, as Chief Operating Officer, eventually becoming Deputy CEO.

“I learned so much from that experience, working across 10 local authorities with 12,000 pupils – and really just seeing the benefits of schools coming together and having a uniform approach to what they do in some areas of school life,” she said.

Claire believes that growth should be at the right pace, by working closely with the office of West Midlands Regional Schools Commissioner Andrew Warren, who assists in brokering conversations between schools that could join forces.

“We been very clear that we want to grow at the right pace and in the right area, taking the West Midlands as our absolute boundary, while also trying to keep a healthy balance between primary and secondary schools,” she said.

“That means making sure that any schools that join us are the right fit, and that we are the right fit for them too.”

“So, we are looking to grow to five schools at first, at which point we will stop, embed our systems and evaluate our progress before thinking about extending further.

“At the heart of every decision we make, we also go back to the question: what’s best for the children?"

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