Schools trust brings together eight schools in Newcastle

The newly formed Newcastle North West Learning Trust organisation hopes to pool financial resources and expertise

The very first schools trust which brings together more than 2500 primary pupils in the North East has launched in Newcastle.

Teachers and governors involved in the Newcastle North West Learning Trust will now be able to pool financial resources and expertise between the eight schools that have come together.

Vice chair Tony Walton said: “It’s very unusual. There has been a similar trust of secondary schools in the south of England but certainly in this part of the world it’s an absolute one-off.”

The newly formed organisation involves Cheviot, Farne, Kenton Bar, Kingston Park, Mountfield, North Fawdon, Stocksfield Avenue and Wyndham primaries in north and west Newcastle, and they have all now become foundation schools.

Partners involved in the new school structure are Newcastle International Airport, the John Lewis Partnership, Northumbria University and Newcastle City Council.

While they are state-maintained and will receive no extra funding, staff have more autonomy in terms of spending and are able to share resources across all eight sites as well as take advice from the associated businesses.

School buildings and land has also been transferred from local authority control so the schools have the ability to sell off land if they wished. However the trust do not intend on doing that at any of the eight sites.

Mr Walton, 68, a former heritage consultant who is now retired, said: “It’s a very special partnership and the advice we get from our partners is invaluable at our monthly board meetings.

“We have just put forward our business plan and when we get someone like Gill Caleary, commercial director of Newcastle International Airport, at our meetings for advice it’s very useful.”

Sarah Knowles, 48, chair of the trust and head teacher of Stocksfield Avenue Primary School at St Cuthbert’s Road, Fenham, said the organisation would now be able to pool funding from the Government or charities.

She said: “We will be looking at sharing services like the Government’s latest advice with PE funding. We will pool our money from all of the schools and look at the provision we can give. We might provide our own member of staff to deliver.”

“The businesses we have selected to work with have all got a lot of expertise of collaborative working.

“John Lewis promote the fact that they are in a partnership and are working along similar lines and at our board meeting they supported us with our business plan and how to bring everyone on board.

“It’s quite aspirational for the children.

“They were moved when we went to visit the partners. One little girl said I’ve been to a university now and then started asking all about it and saying she’d like to go.

“It will widen their opportunities by having the business link.”

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