There have been a lot of changes within education recently which have challenged school communities to think more creatively to ensure that they are best placed to keep village schools open for our children and thriving in future years. Small rural schools are facing very difficult decisions and an uncertain future.
The Strawberry Line Federation embraced these changes and decided that federating two like-minded schools was the best way forward to ensure the continued growth and success of our school communities. Federated in January 2013, we held our official ‘launch’ in the Spring, involving an amazing union of both schools as the children walked along the Strawberry Line and sang a commemorative song to mark the occasion.
A federation is a family of schools, with each school retaining its unique character, its own budget and performance tables and having a separate Ofsted inspection. Our current admission authority continues to be North Somerset.
There is no single blue print for federation; each federation is tailored to the needs of the different schools and communities that are involved. There are over 600 Federated schools in the UK and we are the third federation in North Somerset.
Our decision was led by the desire to ensure strong leadership and high standards in teaching and learning.
The Strawberry Line Federation, which is based on the name of the railway line that connects the two villages, does not alter the names of each school. Mrs Lin Williams is our Federation Executive Head Teacher. In this role she takes overall responsibility for the leadership of both schools. Each school has its own Deputy Head Teachers who are part of the Senior Leadership Team. Mrs Williams, winner of the 2011 Archant Good Schools Show ‘Best Head Teacher’ award, is an experienced Head Teacher and has previously worked as an Executive Head of a Federation in a much larger primary and secondary school in Africa. She also worked in Winscombe Primary as Deputy Head and Year 6 teacher, prior to assuming the role as Head Teacher at Sandford.
The federation have one governing body composed of representatives from each school community. Led by Mrs Melissa Humphry, the membership of this single governing body includes representation for parents and staff of both schools, co-opted governors and Local Authority governors. Together this group of people take overall responsibility for both schools within the Federation.
The federation are extremely proud of its staff, pupils and parents, and are beginning to become recognised as a ‘brand name’. Both schools were ranked in the top three in North Somerset in the 2013 League Tables, signifying consistently high quality provision of education. Further, Sandford was ranked 26th across the country. We attribute these successes to a variety of factors: high expectations for all pupils and staff in school; extremely competent and knowledgeable teachers with a passion for our creative curriculum that is tailored to meet the needs of each individual pupil; an inspirational learning environment that reflects the aspirational ethos of the federation; effective and supportive teamwork across all groups working in school as well as a stable, experienced staff and highly effective governing body.
The Strawberry Line Federation continues to go from strength to strength. To develop the brand further, we have reviewed our school uniform, website and prospectus. Both the pupils and the parents are very excited to see what the future brings.. Watch this space to follow our progress and future events or, better still, come and visit us to experience the ‘wow factor’ yourselves!