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Overview

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust is made up of a family of schools that work together to “improve the life chances” of all our children and young people. We share a common mission to nurture successful children who are confident and can think and act independently. Our cognitive approach to education defines us but does not create a “one size fits all”. At the heart of The Thinking Schools Academy Trust is the belief that the work that we do must transform the life chances of students. We believe that the best way to transform life chances is to actively shape the minds, attitudes and habits of young people through a framework of cognitive education that enables them to become the master of their own destiny. The ultimate goal is that every individual, child or adult, in the organisation consciously recognises their own habits, strengths and areas for development and actively seeks to improve themselves, thereby creating transformational change in each individual. We have 13 academies within our Trust covering two hubs; Medway and Portsmouth. This includes four secondary and nine primary/junior academies. We are a successful Trust that has always grown through a combination of sponsorship, brokered by external agencies such as the Local Authority or the Regional Schools Commissioner, and schools wishing to join the Trust because they share the vision and values that we hold.  Our success is due to our strong educational vision of fully integrated thinking schools, our outstanding and driven leaders, dedicated teachers and support staff backed by a committed team of governors.   Whether you are about to embark on a career in teaching or aspiring to lead your own school, the Thinking Schools Academy Trust supports its staff to reach their potential.

AboutUs

TSAT is a school based, cross phase Multi-Academy Trust that operates in two hubs; Medway and Portsmouth. The core purpose and ambition of TSAT is to transform the life chances of young people through the application of a cognitive approach to education. TSAT is made up of a family of schools including Primary Schools, Grammar Schools, High Schools and Comprehensive Schools. The schools work together to transform the life chances of all our children and young people. We share a common mission to nurture successful children who are confident and can think and act independently. Our cognitive approach to education defines us but does not create a ‘one size fits all’. All TSAT academies, whether converter or sponsored, are equal partners in the Trust and are automatically part of the New Horizons Teaching School Alliance. Therefore, all schools have access to the same level of support and services that the Trust provides. The Trust prides itself on the very high quality of support and services it is able to provide to all its schools, these include: Academic support e.g. Specialist Leaders of Education in specific subjects and Key Stage leadership and strategic planning to support students. Pastoral support e.g. the Trust employs its own safeguarding and attendance officer to support all schools. Leadership support e.g. secondments between school leadership teams Headteacher support e.g. phase Directors to support our Headteachers. Human resources and recruitment support e.g. the Trust has its own HR department to support all schools and centrally support each school to recruit the best possible staff. Finance support e.g. the Trust centrally recruits and employs all the Business Managers who are over-seen by a Director of Finance to ensure Headteachers and schools receive the best possible financial support. Site management e.g. due to the size of the Trust we receive guaranteed Capital funding which we use to support all our schools in a co-ordinated programme of capital works that ensures all students in the Trust have the best possible learning environment As a consequence of our supportive ethos and ambition to transform the life chances of young people all our schools, sponsored or converter, have seen improvements in student outcomes since joining the Trust. For example, in 2016 The Portsmouth Academy’s results were nearly twice as good as they were when the school joined the Trust a few years ago with 64% of students now achieving 5 A*-C including English and Maths. The Trust looks to ensure that students and staff benefit from opportunities, shared expertise and resources across the Trust. For students, we organise a variety of cross-phase and interphase opportunities. For example: Primary School students can access Secondary Science laboratories and expertise to ignite their enthusiasm in this subject; Trust Design and Technology roadshows that enable all Primary students in the Trust to access high quality D&T opportunities; we have an inter-school Primary sports day competition supported by the Secondary Schools as well as football clubs; Secondary School students will often support a nearby Trust Primary school through activities such as PE, guided reading and class support; the Secondary Schools take part in a number of inter-school competitions such as the Olympiad; often Trust schools will be invited to special events in the schools such as Women’s Day at the Victory Academy and the Medway Secondary Schools offer a collaborative sixth form curriculum to enable students to access the widest possible choice of courses to meet their ambitions. For Trust staff there have been many opportunities to share best practice and also develop and progress their careers within the Trust. We build connections between all our teachers to enable them to share good practice and support each other on a day to day basis. We use the BlueSky platform to facilitate this and have whole Trust projects such as the Secondary 9-1 project to which everyone can contribute and share their ideas. We are moving to a model of shared CPD across the schools to enable staff the maximum choice and opportunity for professional development and we wish to support all our staff to achieve their personal career goals. These opportunities are throughout the organisation and have ranged from teachers becoming SLE’s in the New Horizons Teaching School Alliance, to secondments and posts in middle and senior leadership positions within the Trust, to Headteachers becoming executive leaders. We believe in developing all our staff through a comprehensive programme of Continuing Professional Development and professional opportunities so that they can develop their career in the way they wish. This starts from the moment a member of staff joins our Trust with our dedicated NQT, NQT+ and new staff CPD programme through to Trust financed NPQH and MSc courses. Currently, the whole Trust Executive Team have been developed from within the Trust, 3/4’s of Headteachers have been internal appointments and a similar proportion of Senior School leaders are also internally promoted members of staff. Therefore, as a Trust we very much believe in developing and nurturing the talents of all our staff from the moment they join our organisation.

Working for Us

Joining the Thinking Schools Academy Trust means you will be working in an inspiring environment with colleagues that are committed to sharing their skills and experience to transform all our schools to outstanding and supporting each other to reach their personal goals. With an outstanding reputation for CPD and training, The Thinking Schools Academy Trust’s founding school The Rochester Grammar School is the lead school in the New Horizons Teaching Schools Alliance, offering training and support to over a thousand teachers in Medway and Portsmouth. We are always interested in hearing from enthusiastic people wanting to work in our schools – Please join our talent pool and we will ensure you get updates on suitable roles.  School Talent Pool Benefits of working for TSAT: Career Development Teacher Training Programmes New Horizons Teaching Alliance Thinking Skills training  

Our Academies

All Faith's Children's Academy - Rochester, Kent

Holcombe Grammar School - Chatham, Kent

Cedar Children's Academy  -  Rochester, Kent

Isambard Brunel Junior School - Portsmouth, Hampshire

Meon Junior School - Portsmouth, Hampshire

Moorings Way Infant School - Portsmouth, Hampshire

New Horizons Childrens Academy - Chatham, Kent

Newbridge Junior School - Portsmouth, Hampshire

Penhale Infant School - Portsmouth, Hampshire

Portsmouth Academy - Portsmouth, Hampshire

The Gordon's School Federation - Strood, Kent

The Rochester Grammar School - Rochester, Kent

The Victory Academy - Chatham, Kent

Becoming a Teacher

Becoming a Teacher is a rewarding and fulfilling career. At the Thinking Schools Academy Trust there are many different avenues you can follow to become a Teacher. 

School Direct / Initial Teacher Training: You will need to apply directly to the organisations listed below that act as a SCITT in partnership with TSAT. We would love to meet you and would be happy to support your application by providing experience days or hosting placements across our trust. A lot of trainee teachers who work with us want to stay with us and we have a high rate of finding them permanent employment within our Trust.

 http://www.kmtraining.org.uk/index.php/home

 http://www.port.ac.uk/school-of-education-and-continuing-studies/courses/pgce-teacher-training/

Teach First: Teach First is an education charity that runs a two-year course for outstanding graduates where you can earn while you train and work in a challenging school in a low-income community.  This is a fantastic opportunity to get onto a high profile and challenging programme designed to propel you up the leadership ladder and ensure that students in low income areas received top quality education. Teach first is run in a number of our academies across Medway and Portsmouth. 

For more information or to apply please visit http://www.teachfirst.org.uk/

Newly Qualified Teachers ( NQT ) We will support you through your first year accreditation, offering a balance of classroom teaching, time with mentors and theoretical training. TSAT is a registered body to complete accreditation and therefore we can offer ITT training and NQT accreditation. We also have a comprehensive NQT+1 programme where  support is tailored to becoming and outstanding teacher and leadership training which varies depending on whether you wish to follow the pastoral or academic route.

Susan Daye joined us as a NQT at All Faiths Children’s Academy, she was supported through leadership programmes and has now been appointed as Headteacher of New Horizons Children’s Academy, our new school in Medway.   

Jennifer McGuigan who was a Specialist Leader of Education  (SLE) with our teaching school alliance has been appointed as our Headteacher of Gordon schools Federation.

Professional Development

At TSAT we are passionate in supporting staff with their professional development and vehemently believe that the more investment we put into staff the more successful we are as a Trust of schools.  There are a number of different opportunities available to staff with in the Thinking Schools Academy Trust.

As the lead school within a Teaching School Alliance we have access to a lot of support and funding that is not available to other schools and our extended network means there is always support available to further professional development.http://www.newhorizonstsa.com/ 

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

We work closely with other schools and Trusts within the local areas to organise quality CPD and Teach meets allowing opportunities to network with other schools, share good ideas and have quality input for outstanding practitioners.  We have also bought in top quality CPD sessions within the local areas, most notably Pivotal Education who ran a Twilight session focussing on outstanding teaching and learning.  We run subject network opportunities to allow the sharing of good practice and planning on a subject level with local schools which are very successful and create strong networks within the Trust and alliance.

We are committed to ensuring staff within Trust schools have a comprehensive internal CPD programme which places a strong emphasis on the importance of joint planning to share outstanding practice and put it immediately into action rather than just attending sessions.  This has had a large impact on the quality of teaching and learning within our schools.

We realise that sometime the answer is not always internal CPD and all TSAT schools commit strongly to sending their staff on externally run CPD days by subject professionals.  This additional commitment is welcomed by staff who come back and share with their teams the additional knowledge they have gained.

Leadership

We are committed to further people’s leadership ability and aspirations supporting staff to attend a wide range of courses.

Leadership Suite in conjunction with the IOE – “supporting world class educational professionals” These courses run 4 sessions across the year and are led by Headteacher and IOE lecturers.  They focus on the skills associated with different levels of leadership and culminate in a celebratory event in the summer term.  There are three levels of courses – early (aimed at those just beginning their career), developing (aimed at established or new middle leaders) and widening (aimed at those aspiring or newly appointed for senior leadership.

National Professional Qualifications We work with the IOE on the delivery of the national professional qualifications (NPQML, NPQSL and NPQH) and many staff that have completed these courses have gone to achieve promotion soon after showing the impact it has had on their leadership development.

Teaching Leaders We work with the Teaching Leaders organisation on their middle leadership course.  This is an intensive but highly successful middle leadership course that is run over two years and aimed at schools in low income areas.  It is challenging and not all participants get accepted onto the second year, showing the high expectations of the course, however all those that do have found not only have their skills developed immensely and therefore the improvement in the life chances of the students they work with but also their promotion prospects due to the high level of challenge exhibited in the course.http://www.teachingleaders.org.uk/

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) For those who want to stay in the classroom and get more opportunities to work with other schools we have our Specialist Leaders of Education positions. Positions are appointed by the Teaching School in conjunction with the National College of School Leadership.  Successful applicants to the roles, build their skills and have the opportunity to work with students and staff across the Trust and Alliance.

National Leaders of Education (NLE) The Trust will also support our most senior systems leaders to become National leaders of Education. We currently have four NLEs working within our Trust.

Thinking Schools

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust embrace the development of thinking skills within our students, making thinking the heart of the curriculum. 

A Thinking School is ‘an educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular careful thought to everything that takes place.  This will involve both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively, and to employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities.  Successful outcomes will be reflected in student’s across a wide range of abilities demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills, high levels of achievement and both enjoyment and satisfaction in learning. (Burden, 2006)

A Thinking School is an environment whereby students are encouraged to work independently but also learn through working interpedently. Students and teachers alike develop the skills of successful collaboration, creativity and innovation. The whole school vision encompasses many tools which are skilfully selected and incorporated into lessons to aid students’ knowledge and understanding of specific topics. 

Much recent research suggests that there is some disparity between what schools provide for the workforce and indeed what the workforce want and need. In this sense successful people need to have developed dispositions throughout their school life to equip them for the requirements of an ever changing twenty first century. Although it might not be Shakespeare that will answer life’s questions, it will be the transferable skills of communicating ideas with clarity and precision, thinking flexibly and being analytical that will stand the students in good stead for future challenges.

All Thinking Schools will map out their own journey depending upon their specific context and needs as a school. The key features remaining constant within all schools include the successful integration of selected Thinking Tools which are to engage and motivate learners but also help them to think logically and structure their work. Students develop more independence and less dependence upon the teacher as the sole provider of knowledge, they become enquirers of their own learning in a structured environment which supports the development of their own thinking. They take charge of their learning, building the ability to self-reflect and transfer skills between curriculum areas. 

The Benefits of Thinking Skills: Creative thinking is becoming more and more important as we continue in the age of advanced technology. The environment is constantly changing and there is not fixed future, students today are competing in a global market and their ability to use higher order thinking skills will make them more sort after. 

It has been recognised in a recent study from Exeter University that students become more independent, more creative, reflective and motivated. Teachers were found to enjoy benefits such as improvements in quality of lessons, the attainment and progress achieved within lessons and also a common language to facilitate professional development. The inclusivity of the language for the community allows for transparency across all school areas and fluency to develop which enables students to access all learning opportunities.

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