St John's Primary School pupils
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Testimonials

We have invited colleagues to share an overview of their experience, across various job roles, being part of our Trust. We have also included feedback from staff who have worked within our Trust to demonstrate the values that are embedded within our Trust schools. 

We hope you find this information helpful, as to what you may expect when working with us.

Mrs E. Cook, Headteacher at St John's CE Primary School

I have been a headteacher within Sycamore Church of England Trust since January 2022.  During my time working in the trust I have felt extremely supported by both the central team and by my headteacher colleagues. 
 
Sycamore Church of England Trust takes an individualistic approach to supporting its schools and recognises that each establishment needs to be viewed in terms of its context, location and community.  This means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ methodology across the trust but we are able to support each other to develop and thrive by bringing our own unique experiences to the table. 
 
As a headteacher I have autonomy within my school and am able to make key strategic decisions about staffing, curriculum and school organization.  I also have day to day responsibility for financial decisions and have a great deal of input into wider budget decisions. 
 
As a school team, we feel valued and nurtured by the trust and welcome the opportunities to work with colleagues from other schools.  We have also appreciated the targeted support that we have received from the School Improvement Team and have felt that our successes have been acknowledged as part of this process – as well as being able to see how the monitoring activities carried out have helped us on our school development journey. 
 
The trust has provided different members of the St John’s team the chance to work with different schools to share their expertise – an experience that they have welcomed for their own professional development.  This has also enabled us to bring back good practice into our school from the schools across the trust. 
 
Ian Young, the CEO of the trust, provides rigorous and robust professional challenge for me, my SLT and my staff.  As a result we are able to think about how to further improve our school with a great deal of clarity. 

Mrs S Howard, Headteacher at Christ Church CE Primary School

Our school was the original school in the Sycamore Church of England Trust, and we became an academy to sponsor St John’s. It has been an amazing learning journey for our school staff to be part of a Multi-Academy Trust, particularly from the very first support we offered to St John’s, in terms of staff partnerships, curriculum development and peer to peer review, to the support we now receive back from our MAT schools. As a long-standing member of staff at Christ Church, I’ve been able to witness the impact supporting schools can have and how this leads to increased staff confidence, school improvement and pupil outcomes.

Being part of a group of schools means there are always others to offer support, problems are always shared. It is very positive for our pupils to be able to work alongside their peers from other communities and celebrate with them, for example in a joint choir concert.

Despite being the lead school historically, soon to be one of a larger group of schools, with no ‘lead’, Christ Church has retained its distinctiveness and the MAT has never expected schools to become ‘clones’ of each other. We serve very different contexts and serving the needs of our pupils and communities remains the core purpose of each school. However, having a central team ensures we share key core policies, we share values and we are able to collaborate to make our schools stronger.

Having moved from Deputy to Head Teacher at Christ Church, I have really seen the benefits of a MAT in the role as a leader. Being new to headship can be a lonely place, but with our Trust Leader, other Headteacher colleagues and the Central team there for support- both to answer questions and prompt, the Head’s role has been made more accessible and effective for me. The development of the Central Team to include School Improvement staff has again been of great benefit and support- both for me, staff review and development.

I still retain autonomy as the Head Teacher of Christ Church but benefit from MAT support, as well as being ‘held to account’ for my decisions and actions by the Trust and provided with guidance. We are still engaged with our local cluster, some LA services and colleagues from across the Borough. Peer and curriculum reviews regularly take place.

Being part of a MAT has proved to be a very positive step for our school, enabling us to have impact within other schools, receive support back for our school and enjoy the collaboration of staff and pupils which benefits our whole community.

Mr P. Wilson, Headteacher at Radcliffe Hall CE Methodist Primary School

Being part of the Sycamore Church of England Trust allows headteachers to focus on what is most important within a school, the children. The trust is not imposing in the way it supports schools and allows for automaticity in the decision making. As a new headteacher, the support the trust has provided has been invaluable and it is reassuring to know that I can just pick up the phone to the central team when I need some guidance. The values of the trust are clear to see in everything that they do and the positive impact the trust has had on the children of my school is overwhelming. 

Mr S. Beck, Year 6 Teacher at Christ Church CE Primary School

Just recently, I have been given the opportunity to share the role as Assistant Headteacher with another colleague whilst being the lead for KS2. My journey as a teacher has progressed since joining Christ Church Walshaw, I have been given the oppurtunity to improve my teaching practice and leadership skills but also at the same time, the school’s journey has progressed too: becoming a MAT and joining the Sycamore Trust.

This has enabled teachers within the trust to form communities of practice, share approaches and enhance professional development for both adults and children.

Each school, has kept their identity and they have portrayed what makes the school special and unique.

Furthermore, the trust has given the chance for leaders and teachers to collaborate with each other and create some non-negotiables to make all of the schools a happy, fun place for both children and adults to attend.

Joining the trust has certainly been beneficial as we are now outward looking and have more and more experts to receive advice from but most importantly the schools have maintained their integrity and independence of what makes it special to attend them.  

Mrs K. Hayward-Sampson, Senior/ School Administrator at Christ Church CE Primary School

I have worked as an administrator at Christ Church CE Primary School for over 3 years and I have recently taken on the role of senior administrator for two days a week. I enjoy working at Christ Church Primary School and being part of the Multi-Academy Trust.

The trust has supported me in my development and career progression, offering the opportunity for me to complete the Schools Administration Foundation Certificate. As part of the trust, it’s nice to know I can call other administrators for any advice and support. I look forward to attending the next senior administrators meeting where we collaborate and discuss our ideas, feedback and goals.

Mrs R. Sheppard, Senior School Administrator at Radcliffe Hall CE Methodist Primary School

Working in the trust allows:

  • Support from the other schools and trust when needed.
  • Making fantastic and supportive relationships and always having someone to ring if help is needed so you never feel on your own.
  • Sharing best practice across each school, which helps make processes more streamline and efficient.
  • Makes you feel part of a family.
  • Opportunities for career progression

Mrs C. Wood, Year 1 Teacher at St John's CE Primary School

Being part of the Sycamore Church of England Trust has been a huge benefit to me as an early career teacher.

Drawing on the experience and expertise of colleagues, not only in my school, but across the trust has enabled me to develop my practice and provide better quality teaching to the children.

As a single form entry school, coming together as a trust for writing moderation was a great opportunity that provided me with examples of writing from my year group, it enabled me to better assess the work being produced by the children and the areas I needed to develop.

I have also found it advantageous to be able to share resources across schools, doing this has enabled me to give the children experiences that they may otherwise not have had. 

Statistics from our exit interviews demonstrate the strength of values within our Trust

Staff are our greatest resource but we understand that, at times, staff can leave for a variety of reasons. To help us to identify and celebrate good practice, or to address any changes needed, we invite all staff to complete an exit interview or questionnaire.

The results demonstrate how well our values are embedded throughout the schools within our Trust. Our values underpin all that we do and whilst we always strive to improve we are proud to share the following data: 

Statement Response from Leavers 2022/23
Work-life balance was promoted 100% either strongly agreed, or agreed, with this statement
I was given opportunities to develop 100% either strongly agreed, or agreed, with this statement.
I was treated fairly and equally 80% strongly agreed with this statement with one neutral response.
I experienced no bullying or harassment 80% strongly agreed with this statement with one neutral response.
How would you rate CCMAT as an employer? 80% stated Excellent, with one satisfactory response.
My skills were effectively used 100% either strongly agreed, or agreed, with this statement.
My achievements were acknowledged and recognised 100% either strongly agreed, or agreed, with this statement.
I was given encouragement and help when needed 100% of leavers strongly agreed with this statement.