Today we focus on Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire – with the tremendous contribution to driving up school standards by the Brooke Weston Trust.
In 1991 the landowner, Hugh de Capell Brooke, and Garry Weston, the owner of Associated British Foods founded a City Technology College, now called the Brooke Weston Academy. The school was officially opened by the Prime Minister John Major. This was one of the 15 CTCs introduced after the reforms of Ken Baker. It has consistently achieved excellent results.
Now we are seeing these high standards at other schools that have become part of the Brooke Weston Trust. They are: Corby Business Academy, Corby Technical School, Beanfield Primary Academy, Gretton Primary Academy, Kettering Science Academy and Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
In Thomas Clarkson Academy this year 60 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths. Just a couple of years ago this figure was only 24 per cent. One of the most alarming aspects was that the school was in denial about the position it was in.
When a local Conservative councillor, Steve Tierney, said that the school wasn't good enough for his son and therefore wasn't good enough for the children of the residents he represented, the school responded that his comment was "diabolical."
Ignoring or excusing failure is not the approach of the Brooke Weston Trust. The Trust's chief executive Andrew Campbell says:
Everyone within the Trust shares an unswerving commitment to ensure each child in our care receives the best possible education. We believe in the virtues of professionalism, hard work, building good relationships between students and staff and the importance of a relentless determination to succeed.
High expectations, ambition and a professional approach result in high achievement. This is a simple formula, but one that is credible, proven and applied across all the Trust’s work.
Particularly welcome is that they have their own teacher training programme. They also operate as part of the School Direct programme. As a result they get a flow of new teachers with practical experience of the classroom rather than the useless jargon and misguided ideology that often dominate teacher training courses.
The Brooke Weston Trust are achieving great things. They also remind us as Conservatives that Michael Gove's revolution had its modest beginnings under Sir John Major and Lord Baker.