Outstanding Multi Academy Trust Practice

Sponsored by Enrich Education

Awarded to a Multi Academy Trust that places pupil and staff wellbeing at the heart of the trust, delivering a co-ordinated approach to leveraging PE, play and sport to support resilient learners.

Winner - Cabot Learning Federation, West of England

Photo of winners at awards evening

Cabot Learning Federation position PE, sport and physical activity at the heart of their culture. The trust works closely with the Youth Sport Trust on wide ranging opportunities and places the Well School Trust objectives centrally as a framework for achieving these outcomes. 

As an active member of the Well School trust network, they have identified how a strong PE, school sport and physical activity offer can be a key lever to improving the life experiences of all students due to their appreciation of the benefits it brings to physical, mental, and social wellbeing. The Trust use well-being and PE, sport and physical activity as a lever for school improvement. The Director of Education leads on well-being and associated activities and sits on the Multi Academy Trust Advisory Board for the Youth Sport Trust.

The Trust’s guiding light is that PE is for everyone, and Physical Literacy underpins this. The intent is that “We enjoy learning through physical activity”. Through enjoying physical activity, the curriculum will provide students with the opportunities to develop key characteristics to be successful. The belief is that the approach to Physical Education is inclusive and develops all children through movement and interacting with their environment.

The Trust schools all have Youth Sport Trust membership and benefit from being a School Games Organiser and Girls football partnership host site.  They have utilised a number of Youth Sport Trust programmes to support pupils, including Girls Active, Boys Move and Active in Mind.

The Well School Trust audit tool has enabled the Trust to accurately identify areas of need and best practice. Wellbeing is explicitly placed within the PE curriculum which is also based on the principles of physical literacy. The trust has also made a strategic commitment to ensuring wellbeing is at the heart of ALL decisions it makes.

‘Big events’ are a wide range of joy-filled activities which the Trust have developed to create lasting memories for pupils, whilst shaping who they are and developing their sense of self. Over 2000 students have taken part in opportunities they wouldn’t normally be able to take part in. For disadvantaged students, this is a unique opportunity to gain equity and level the playing field, with life experiences that can lay the platform for lifelong success, cultural capital and social mobility.

Schools across the Trust have been positioned as case studies of effective practice by the Youth Sport Trust for effectively delivering two hours of curriculum PE, and seven academies were successful with bids to access Opening School Facilities funding across the region.

Highly Commended - NEXUS Academy Trust, South Yorkshire

Outstanding MAT Award - NEXUS Academy

‘Belief, belonging and butterflies’ is the overarching mantra of the Nexus Multi Academy Trust. Belief in the sense that many of the students have failed in education, may be reluctant or fearful of sport and PE and may physically present with significant barriers to their participation and thus wellbeing. Sport and physical activity within the Trust gives all the children and staff a sense of belonging, whether it is belonging to a schools sports team, a staff social team or a PE lesson they may have never been able to do previously. Through being so active physically and mentally, the children and staff experience the sensation of having butterflies of excitement and anticipation. The Trust are committed to using this approach consistently, determinedly and confidently throughout the work they do within the Trust and beyond.

The Well Schools initiative is part of the Trust improvement plan, which ensures schools deliver inclusive PE, sports and associated events, focusing particularly on children’s mental health and wellbeing. The Trust core value of being the ‘Best we can be’ is at the heart of the inclusive provision within the schools.

The strong culture of the Trust is one that works on a strength-based approach, starting with the CEO and Executive Team, then flowing into each individual school, each with their own identify and community, but working in tandem with the shared goals of the Trust. Through the work of its lead Youth Sport Trust school, partners are supported to enhance their provision for all aspects of sport and physical activity.

A great example of the impact of the culture is the recent Trust Sports Day that was planned and delivered by students. Following a Pupil Parliament meeting with the CEO, the students expressed their desire to compete competitively in a Trust wide sporting event. This was organised through the expert knowledge of the Youth Sport Trust lead staff and Trust central team as well as the sports leaders within and beyond the Trust itself.

Over 300 children participated in the sport events from 23 schools from the Trust and beyond. Many of these children came to their schools having ‘failed in mainstream’ and never had the opportunity to represent their schools. These students were supported to believe they could achieve which improved their self-belief, which in turn has led to their confidence growing in other areas. The transformational effect stemming from this acquired sense of belonging is evident in pupil voice, pupil participation, attendance and lowered exclusions. One of the newest Academies specialising in Autism and Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties has used the power and influence of the sporting calendar to prevent any exclusions within the last school year.

At the Pupil Parliament reflection meeting following the event, students spoke and articulated what they had gained from the event and how it could be done differently. There was an overriding request to make the event even bigger, with more sporting role models that represent the diversity of our young people.

Full list of shortlisted entries:

  • Cabot Learning Federation, West of England
  • Insignis Academy Trust, Buckinghamshire
  • Marches Academy Trust, Shropshire
  • NEXUS Academy Trust, South Yorkshire
  • The Tapscott Learning Trust, London
  • Wave Multi Academy Trust, Devon & Cornwall
  • Windsor Academy Trust, West Midlands