The schools in Whitstable and Herne Bay have worked closely together for many years. The nature of these informal arrangements has varied during that time. In 2011 the Coastal Alliance was formed so named because:-
In 2016 we formalised this arrangement to further improve our schools by forming CACoT (Coastal Alliance Co-operative Trust) with our schools either becoming Co-operative Trust schools, or partner schools. All schools in the Alliance were able to take up one of these two options. Three schools are now Foundation Trust schools, we needed at least one to do so in order to establish the Trust. Becoming a trust at this point in time allowed us to continue to develop our work together, while government policies on academisation in education were further clarified.
The formation of the Foundation Trust has secured our working partnership and would still provide a ready-made model if all schools become academies at some point in the future. However, we did not feel that pursuing academy status was right for all our schools at that point in time, though some were already academies.
One of the main advantages of the co-operative trust model is that it enables our schools to continue to work in the same way as they currently work and retain their individual characters. We value the diversity and range of school types and are not trying to make our schools the same, but rather to ensure what is special now, is preserved in the future.
No member school had to become an academy to join the Coastal Alliance Co-operative Trust if they are not one already. No school has become part of a “chain” of schools. There is no leader or chief executive of the trust. Headteachers and governors will remain in charge of their own schools accountable to their young people, parents and the local community, with the Trust collectively supporting all of our children in having the best possible education through partnership working.
The Coastal Alliance Co-operative Trust was set up in 2016 and is a Charitable Trust and Company Limited by Guarantee. It is a not for profit organisation, in which members are mutually responsible but not liable for each other. It is a legal entity, recognised as such by KCC and the national government.
As the educational landscape is changing at an unprecedented pace, leading in particular to a marked reduction in the role and capacity of local authorities, the Trust aims to provide a supportive and collaborative context in which our schools can continue to thrive into the future.
That support takes many forms. Schools are first and foremost for education, so it is right that at the heart of what we do is a focus on school improvement, staff development, and enabling our young people to excel. We support schools in meeting the challenges of rising expectations through mutually supportive intervention and training.
The ethos of the Trust is collaborative and participative. Every individual school has a voice, though the Trust’s open and transparent governance, in the key decisions which affect each school. Moreover, the Trust aims to value the healthy diversity which exists across our schools, and we actively encourage each school which decides to join the Trust to maintain and further develop its own distinctive culture and identity.
We are a cost effective, local organisation and as such have a business model that delivers efficiency, effectiveness and economies of scale in order to free up more resources for the front line, wherever possible whilst retaining individual school autonomy.
I hope that the other pages which follow give you an even clearer idea of the way in which the Trust works.