Education: First trust schools develop self-esteem

By Nancy Rowntree

| 11 September 2007

Children's charity Barnardo's is to start work to improve pupils' mental health and home life in several of the first wave of trust schools.

The charity is a partner in a number of trust schools in the West Midlands, and plans to use its links with the schools to help develop children's confidence and self-esteem. Its work will include promoting good mental health and advising the schools on supporting children who have a disrupted home life.

David Baker-Price, assistant director of children's services at Barnardo's Midlands, said: "We are looking at ways to develop emotional resilience and support children so they can cope with difficult home situations."

The first 30 trust schools opened their doors this month and another 180 are in the pipeline, according to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Soraya Kazi, project officer at England's first trust school, Monkseaton Community High School in North Tyneside, said the main motivation for becoming a trust school was to enable a continued focus on innovation.

Monkseaton is currently trialling the 10-minute gap theory, a neuroscience technique where children learn in short bursts with breaks of 10 minutes in between lessons so they transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Two members of the school's governors are on Monkseaton's trust board - a local authority official and the chair of governors. Kazi hopes this will allay fears that becoming a trust school will mean outside organisations "take over" the school.

But some teachers' unions remain concerned about trust schools, which have the power to manage their own assets, employ their own staff and set their own admissions arrangements.

"Schools need to be a part of the community, not handed over to groups of organisations to peddle their cause," said a spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers.

Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, remained doubtful that many more schools would seek trust status. "Trust status is in practice much the same as foundation status, which has been available to schools for some time. Therefore the number of schools becoming trust schools in the next year or two is likely to be fairly small," he said.

blog comments powered by Disqus