VIEWS & OPINION
make themost of Supporting schoo
Comment by STUART GARDNER, CEOof Thinking Schools Academy Trust
As the leader of a Trust of 17 high-
performing schools across the South East, I understand the challenges surrounding the delivery of first-class education without compromising on financial efficiency – especially at a time of tight budgets. The freedoms afforded by the academy trust model have given us the opportunity to design new and successful ways of
managing our resources – and sharing them with as wide an audience as possible – in a
bid to collaborate, share best practice and mirror our approach. I believe that one way to achieve excellent results for students is through an innovative curriculum-based financial planning model. In our experience, this works brilliantly to solve some of the financial challenges that many school leaders will be familiar with, ensuring that money is spent in the most efficient way possible while prioritising the highest of educational standards.
We have definitely seen this working effectively across the Trust – reducing costs at one of our schools by more than £2m over the last
their ls to
three years whilst rapidly improving academic standards.We’ve helped take the school from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ in terms of their Ofsted ranking. But the best part is that it can be shared beyond our Trust: such a model can easily be replicated by other schools, and
MATs – and in the near future, smaller trusts an Using a model such as Thinking Solutions for tailored to suit their needs.
facilities maintenance; and support in and the d five specific services: consultancy in the fields of benefit from being able to access economies of
This type of model allows a largerMAT to spread the costs of overheads, improve its own economies of scale, appoint roles beyond immediate capacity, and further reduce reliance on third-party suppliers who have a profit element added into their costs. In terms of sharing these benefits, these models can:
• Provide strategic support on decisions that will ensure improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness toMATs and single schools • Developing structures and systems to enable all schools to benefit from economies of scale irrespective of their • Deliver a customer-focused service that mea most important part of the relationship.
ns the school will be the size
As a Trust, we are committed to acting first and foremost in the interests of educational excellence, and one illustration of the benefits a model like this can achieve is our community gym, Thinking Fitness. Thinking Fitness has recently reached the milestone of 500 members on its books, creating a turnover of nearly £100,000 per year – which is then reinvested back into the local community and the Trust’s schools. We are absolutely committed to continuing to innovate wherever we can, in the interests of students across the country. I am very much looking forward to working with other school leaders to make the most of this, and ensure its benefits are shared as widely as possible.
Education (TsfE), other d single schools – can
evelopment of sports finance, HR and IT; scale, focusing on
Adding the “A” tomake “STEAM” is not enough
Comment by ANGUS HORNER, Director of Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
In the past decade, there has been a nationwide initiative to promote STEM careers. These four fields are critical if the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to meet humanity’s challenges. The UK has a much-discussed skills shortage. Closing this gap is essential, to continue
competing on a global stage. Today, two- thirds of the roles on occupation list are in
STEMdisciplines. the shortage
The STEMcampaign has raised the profile of this shortage, but we make it
harder to solve the problem by having a focus that remains too prescriptive. Focusing on these four subjects portrays a narrow picture of what a career in science, technology or engineering is, and will be, in the future.
The scientific community added an “A” to STEMfor the arts - but even this has sometimes been met with criticism. The reality is that the
other industry, sector and aspect of life. By narrowing the focus to STEM world of science and technology already intersects with almost every
or STEAMwe risk putting off a vast number of people, who have the potential to thrive in what is fast becoming better described as the ‘Knowledge Economy’.
A whole host of roles that are a vital part of the Knowledge Economy can be pursued regardless of the subject studied in school. Technology companies, research facilities and universities do not just need scientists, engineers and mathematicians – they also need entrepreneurs, marketers, designers, human resources,
lawyers – the list is vast.
Additionally, those who study humanities or social sciences can wield a layer of human judgement within these industries; analysing complex human and moral ideas to refine new technology. For instance, there is an increasing emphasis in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide more consideration of human behaviour, especially with the increasing issue of AI bias, and as the technology becomes more prolific in areas such as healthcare.
Similarly, if the broader Knowledge Economy from a wider group, it is likely that some who d
id not start with a STEAM attracts young people
interest ultimately develop one during their learning and working careers. Only a minority of us really know what we want to do when we start our careers and our work journeys often take multiple turns. At the school where I am a Governor, during careers festivals we explain how interconnected the employers in the room all are, although they have different roles – such as the Investment Fund that is a shareholder in the Space or Life Sciences company, which supports the local Doctor.
For teachers, adopting a multi-faceted approach is hard when priorities are constantly shifting, and financial/ time constraints are constant companions. However, there is almost no industry or sector that is not touched by science and technology, and any students in education now will probably work with those specialisms one way or another.
We should all help to collectively break down STEMbarriers in education, but more importantly, consistently feed young minds, which are open to new ideas, and espouse the exciting opportunities in the Knowledge Economy to people of all skills, interests and educational backgrounds.
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