Over the past ten years the educational landscape has changed significantly for schools.
The introduction of academies over the past few years has coincided, at a diocesan level, with a significant reduction in the capacity of the Diocesan Education Service to support schools. This, together with the shrinking support available from the local authority, gives concern that schools will increasingly become isolated and with limited help as they seek to improve from a good base or if they get into difficulty.
Moreover, as parishes start to link and merge, and the overall number of parish priest decreases, there will be the potential for a change in the current relationship between a primary school and their local parish.
In recent years, the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) with the involvement of Professor David Hargreaves on the potential and impact of school to school support within a “self-improving school system”. An example of this is the emergence, across the country, of Teaching Schools, groups of schools in a given area with a responsibility for supporting schools through the provision of professional development opportunities and training teachers. St. Mary’s Catholic Academy is a strategic partner in the Fylde Coast Teaching School Alliance and the Catholic Teaching School Alliance (North).
Primary schools have significant experience of working together across Blackpool, on a voluntary basis, to support developments in teaching and learning and respond to new initiatives. Within the family of Blackpool Catholic schools there has been a strong tradition of the schools working together to provide mutual support and development across a wide range of issues including capital (building) work, transition activities, joint professional development and strengthening of the schools’ Catholic ethos.