We’re happy to announce that great progress is being made on the new Site for Avanti Fields School in Leicester.
Dear pupils, parents/carers and staff,
The Trustees and Senior Leadership team of the Avanti Schools Trust are delighted to welcome the students, parents and school staff from the south-west Steiner schools at Bristol, Exeter and Frome into the Avanti family of schools. You will all know that Avanti currently runs secondary and primary schools in the London area and in Leicester, and that we aim to offer to all children in our schools a high quality education which stresses educational excellence, character development and spiritual insights.
All of us at Avanti understand that your school, whether in Bristol, Exeter or Frome, has been through a troubling period recently, and that worries and anxieties will inevitably exist. In due course, there will need to be carefully considered and fully articulated changes in these schools, but we hope you are reassured by the essence of the Avanti Way and what we stand for. Our ambition is that these schools become as high quality as all our other schools, but this does not mean discarding all that has been achieved in the past.
Central to Waldorf education and to the Avanti Way is developing a teaching methodology which strives to develop pupils’ intellectual, artistic and practical skills in an integrated and holistic way, and the cultivation of pupils’ imagination and creativity as a central focus. The emphasis on experiencing oral traditions, the role of ritual and routine, and the role of the arts and creativity all have resonance not just with the Avanti way but with Waldorf education. So whilst there will be changes, the Avanti Trustees give you a commitment that we will work to raise standards in Avanti Gardens, Avanti Hall and Avanti Park, by offering a coherent, invigorating and challenging education which transforms and improves these schools, and which excites and motivates all who learn and teach in them.
Chair of Avanti Schools Trust Board of Trustees
As we get closer to the date of transfer we feel it would be helpful to set clarify how we anticipate the schools will operate during the spring and summer terms of 2020 and how we intend to undertake the promised curriculum review.
Post transfer and pre-curriculum review
New names for each school
When the schools join AST they will be, first and foremost, Avanti schools and will have Avanti in their title. In keeping with our existing family of schools, for the names of the schools we will not be adopting school names based on location. From the date of transfer the names of the schools will be as follows:
During our initial consultation with stakeholders we stated that the names may also carry the tagline ‘inspired by Waldorf principles’. The AST Board has agreed to give acknowledgement to the origins of the schools but, at least until the curriculum review is completed, not to have a tag which ties AST to the Waldorf principles. Avanti has its own ethos and principles outlined in the Avanti Way document. Reference to the Steiner Waldorf origins will be provided on each of the school websites.
Teaching and Learning
AST’s Board of Trustees are clear that as state funded institutions there is a balance that needs to be struck in each of the three schools in order to ensure that the new curriculum that will be implemented in the three schools from September 2020 is ambitious and designed to give all learners the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. In the meantime, we (AST) need to be assured that the pupils have access to quality first teaching and that the delivery of the curriculum allows children to make progress. We are aware that parents have concerns regarding the teaching of phonics, literacy and numeracy particularly though not exclusively in the kindergarten phase. We are also cognizant of the need for each school to address some important and significant challenges as identified in the Section 5 Ofsted inspections for all three schools in autumn 2018 and the recent Section 8 monitoring visit at Steiner Academy Frome. We will be asking the newly appointed Hub Director to urgently review how we (AST) can better support a more systematic approach to improving teachers’ skills and this will include the teaching of reading and a renewed focus on developing children’s speaking and listening skills.
At the date of transfer the AST Board will appoint an Interim Hub Executive Board (IHEB) to oversee all three of the Avanti Schools in the south west region. The IHEB will have up to 5 members and will be chaired by a member of the trust board. The IHEB will fulfil all functions of governance as delegated by the AST Board and will oversee all three schools in a way that ensures improvement and promotes high standards of educational achievement.
Avanti Schools Trust has made clear that it values aspects of the educational insights of Waldorf education and this has been an important consideration for why we chose to express an interest in sponsoring the three SW schools. The aim of the planned curriculum review is to investigate how the curriculum in the three re-brokered schools can be aligned with aspects of Waldorf principles which are in synergy with the Avanti Way. The review team will be asked to consult with school based stakeholders about the scope of the planned review soon after the date of transfer. The Board of Trustees will be tasking the review team to report back in late March 2020 and to make clear recommendations regarding the curriculum offer in each school from September 2020. The desire of trustees is to provide a curriculum that is coherent and planned to be able to offer a sequence of learning opportunities that will provide cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for students’ future learning and employment.
Chair Avanti School Trust Board
Nitesh Gor OBE DL
CEO Avanti School Trust