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Participating in social action at the Consortium Multi Academy Trust

 Blog posts are written by guest writers from the world of education. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of NAHT.


The Consortium Multi Academy Trust is proud to be a new pledging partner of the #iwill campaign, a UK-wide initiative supported by more than 750 influential organisations, including NAHT. As a collective movement, we are aiming to make participation in meaningful social action, like volunteering, campaigning and fundraising, a normal part of life for young people aged between 10 to 20. 

This week (20 to 24 November) marks the annual #iwillweek celebration where organisations, schools and businesses are celebrating young people who lead social action and their capacity for bringing others together. The week marks the fourth anniversary of the #iwill campaign, and it is all about shining a light on the impact that young people are having as well as the great work of the 750+ #iwill partners who’ve pledged to create more social action opportunities.

So what is social action?

The Consortium Multi Academy Trust was established in July 2016 with three founding primary schools converting to academy status on 1 August 2016. It has since grown and includes nine primary schools from across Norfolk and Suffolk.

At the Consortium Multi Academy Trust, we recognise the significant impact our rural schools have on the wider community because in many places the school is the only public asset in the area. As such, we have a key role to play in helping embed social action, acting as the facilitator for wider community engagement and developing community cohesion.

The benefits of building this capacity in our communities are not only realised in academic terms; we strongly believe that with enhanced self-worth comes better outcomes for our pupils - both in attainment but more significantly in progress measures for our more challenging pupils. Not to mention that improved partnership working across sectors, particularly in rural communities, can be financially rewarding/beneficial for all parties.

Offering and facilitating youth social action activities across our schools allows pupils to understand their sense of place not only in their locality but also regionally, nationally and globally. We believe every young person should be able to access social action opportunities, and this is why we are recruiting a ‘Community, Character and Ethos Leader’ who will ensure the whole school community has the opportunity to contribute to social action programmes. 

We are committed to providing a broad and exciting curriculum that recognises that in addition to academic attainment, there are so many more things which children should experience in their childhood. This is why the Consortium Multi Academy Trust has launched 'Pupil Entitlement' across our schools, which is based on the National Trust's '50 best things to do before 11'. It focuses on things that every primary school child should experience through their journey in our schools.

As part of our commitment to curriculum innovation, the Trust is proud to have launched our pupil parliament. This is where pupils in year five and six from all of the Trust's schools attend a day every term to debate on meaningful and weighty matters of concern from within their schools and local communities. The Trust believes all children have both the right and ability to have successful futures through the development of their own leadership mindsets and communicational skills. Through pupil parliament, our children visibly grow in confidence and are inspired to develop their thoughts and views points.

A few of our schools have a close association with their local Scout Group where many of our pupils are members and enjoy participating in a variety of organised activities and the companionship of their friends. As a Trust, this means we are able to use the facilities of the Scout Group, such as the minibus and the marquee for sports events.

Other schools in the Trust run a successful and well-loved intergenerational project, with pupils and our elderly community members in a local care home exchanging stories, taking time to understand one another and developing that mutual respect across social divides. Another school is involved in philosophy for children; while across all our schools, we actively encourage pupils to ask fruitful questions that will set their peers' thinking. This enables pupils to initiate, sustain and persevere with discussions, and it keeps them on track and helps them to refine ideas as they progress.

We see this work contributing to the development of the whole child and providing them with the skills, insight and opportunity to have a successful onwards journey through life. 

Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne

First published 21 November 2017