Sarah Godbold, Headteacher:
I joined the DNEAT family in 2015 as Head of School at Gooderstone Church of England Primary Academy. Over the course of four years, DNEAT invested in me with a variety of CPD including putting me on a NPQSL course. I have also had many opportunities to share my practice throughout the Trust and support others with theirs. Being able to contribute to the MAT on many different levels has made me feel confident in my skill set and valued as part of the larger team beyond my academies.
In 2018 I was thrilled to become the Executive Head of Churchside Federation. Two academies to run as my first dive in to Headship was daunting, but DNEAT provided me with lots of support and I never felt alone. The beauty of being in a MAT is the wealth of knowledge available to you; there is always someone on hand who can help you, or answer the many (in my case) questions you may have. This support network was invaluable during our recent Ofsted (it was GOOD), from our AGEP (Academies Group Executive Principal) in residence to the offers of support from other Heads.
Overall this role has been incredibly challenging and thoroughly enjoyable in equal measures. No two days are ever the same and I am forever discovering and learning new things, I know I will never be bored!
My journey at DNEAT has been very interesting so far and I look forward to where it takes me next.
Kellie Egleton, Deputy Headteacher:
My journey with DNEAT began in September 2013, following academisation after a difficult period in our school when, in May 2013, we were placed in Special Measures. As a Church of England school, we had always worked closely with the Diocese of Norwich, so joining the DNEAT family was our natural “home”.
Being in Special Measures can be a very lonely time for a school leader. The pace of change is demanding and there are times when it feels overwhelming.
Since joining DNEAT, we have been given many opportunities which have enabled our school to flourish as a successful Academy. We have benefited from working in a network where professional support and challenge is at the centre of everything we do. The Trust have actively promoted and encouraged leadership at all levels by providing outstanding CPD opportunities. They understand that people are at the heart of a school’s success and have shown a strong commitment to developing my leadership.
During Special Measures, there is very little time for reflection. The most important gift DNEAT have always provided is the time and space to reflect on the impact of my work and to consider how my potential can be developed and nurtured, both for myself and for the wider school community. Because the Trust is based on Christian values, my leadership development has been focused on the importance of creating effective teams that have a collective commitment to a clearly articulated and ambitious vision for the future success of our Academy. This has opened my eyes to the tremendous complexities involved in leading and managing schools and has further developed my ability to reflect on and improve my leadership practice.
One of the first projects I worked on with DNEAT was an invitation to become a member of Shirley Clarke’s learning team of teachers as action researchers; working closely with members of teaching staff across the DNEAT Academy chain to develop our pedagogical approach. I had been teaching for 15 years when I joined Shirley’s team and can honestly share that it transformed my teaching practice as a result. It was inspirational to work alongside colleagues, to raise pupil self esteem through the use of Growth Mindset. I feel tremendously privileged to have been a part of this work and to see the lasting impact it has had in our Academy.
This collaboration strengthened my desire to become a Headteacher and with the full support of DNEAT, I undertook the NPQH. Working within such a large family of academies meant that I could carefully consider where I would learn the most about school leadership. This provided a unique opportunity for me to collaborate with a Federation of academies in a different context to my own. The close, professional relationships I built whilst on placement have been lasting and the partnerships I have made have supported my leadership journey since.
By July 2015, our school had been graded RI. We were graded as “Good” for behaviour and attitudes to learning and with these strong foundations now in place it was time to focus on the curriculum. Once again DNEAT were there to facilitate another opportunity for me. This time it was becoming a project lead for a Strategic School Improvement Funded Project. This has enabled us to develop a curriculum which has been informed by a strong, robust research base. The curriculum is interesting and current with the intention of developing a wealth of knowledge, which will prepare our children for future learning. We have created a curriculum to be proud of, which is bespoke to Kessingland children and which was celebrated during our recent Ofsted (December 2019).
Recruitment and retention have been a significant feature in our journey at Kessingland, which is little surprise given that 180 degrees of our recruitment radius is the North Sea. In 2018, DNEAT supported us to make the brave decision to do something different and we began working in partnership with TeachFirst. I mentor our trainees. I am convinced that I have one of the best jobs in education as I spend the majority of my week coaching school leaders of the future.
The programme is research-based, which has transformed our staff-room conversations. Our academy community is buzzing with new ideas and pedagogical thinking, because we have trainee teachers who regularly share the very latest and best educational research with all of us. Working in partnership with TeachFirst has enabled us to “grow our own”. What we have now are the sort of people we had been looking to recruit for years. People who are passionate, committed, hardworking and challenge our thinking.
One of my proudest achievements was being asked to become the TeachFirst Lead Mentor for the East of England. My role as a Lead Mentor continues to provide an exciting leadership opportunity. I feel extremely proud to be part of a small group of mentors, from across the country, who provide leadership and support to the TeachFirst mentor provision locally and feed into the development of the programme nationally.
Throughout my leadership journey, I have felt supported by my Headteacher and AGEP, who have been dedicated to developing and challenging my leadership. They saw the potential in me to become a system leader – a lifelong ambition. This has transformed my leadership.
Now that we are a “GOOD” school it’s our turn to share. I am one of DNEATs Learning Centred Leaders (LCL). This brings a new purpose to my leadership and has given me the unique opportunity to work beyond my own academy. This has enabled me to gain better knowledge and insight and to share my professional learning with others.
The next part of our journey is now underway and I know that when I write this final paragraph…the one which finally recognises our school as “Outstanding”, that DNEAT will be there, at our side; supporting, challenging, but most importantly: being our critical friend.
Victoria Langley, Deputy Headteacher:
I came to work within the DNEAT Multi Academy Trust as a class teacher at Unity Federation in 2017. After 18 months of development I was successful in applying to become the Head of School at another academy with Unity Federation – Little Snoring Community Primary Academy. Working for DNEAT has given me the opportunity to see my role grow and for the federation and Multi Academy Trust to develop me to be an effective Senior Leader. I really enjoy the role I now have, the challenges I face and the fact that I am part of a wider family like Unity and organisation like DNEAT.
As part of my wider work with DNEAT I attend termly meetings as part of the Deputies Network. This is great professional development as we visit different academies in our area and undertake tasks linked to developing our role and expertise as senior leaders. This group compliments the work of the Headteachers’ Regional Alliance as it is supported by one of the heads and our Academies Group Executive Principle. It brings Deputies, Heads of School and Assistant Heads together to work collaboratively on projects that have a direct impact on outcomes and provision in our own DNEAT academy.
The professional development I have received from DNEAT has been truly inspirational at times. In 2017-18 I completed a year’s project with Shirley Clarke looking at assessment, feedback and the learning process. Having three full days working with Shirley over the year was inspiring, motivating and resulted in huge impact on the work of Unity Federation in reducing teacher workload around marking and feedback. I also regularly attend the EYFS Ambassadors group, PE Network and subject moderation for my pupils. Each of these networks provides me with the latest ideas, allows me to hold professional dialogue with my fellow teachers across the Trust and also brings greater confidence in my role as Class Teacher and Subject Lead. They involve input from leading professionals in their field and this is valued immensely by all who attend.
DNEAT has provided me with many opportunities to grow as a leader, excel as a Class Teacher and become more confident as a Subject Leader. It supports as well as challenges you to prepare you for the ever changing world of education that we find ourselves working in.