New University-led academy trust launches
A new University of Portsmouth-led multi-academy trust launches today (10 January 2022).
The University of Portsmouth Academy Trust (UPAT) brings together two Portsmouth schools – Milton Park, and Cottage Grove primary schools, and one primary school in Gosport – Woodcot – to support and grow educational excellence across the region.
UPAT has been established to improve educational outcomes and life chances for local communities in Portsmouth and the Solent region. It is committed to inclusivity, lifelong learning and ensuring local school pupils are equipped to succeed at every stage.
UPAT was created following a lengthy period of consultation with the three schools involved to create the Trust, which fully encompasses the uniqueness and strengths of each of the founding schools.
The move will see pupils benefiting from closer connections to the University, including accessing events and trips, and gaining an insight into what university life is like. Young people from some parts of Portsmouth are less likely to engage with higher education compared to their peers elsewhere. For instance, in Surrey 2019/20, 47 per cent of school leavers progressed to higher education, in Portsmouth the figure was just 29 per cent. We believe that the Trust will help raise educational standards and aspirations so that university becomes a real option for more young people in the future.
Teachers within the Trust will be able to better support each other and share different skills across schools for the benefit of pupils. Staff will also be able to access research, teacher training, and specialist department knowledge from the University’s School of Education and Sociology.
“Working closely with primary schools supports our ambitions to be more involved in the civic life of the city and region, raising educational standards and aspirations in our local community.
The University will also provide guidance on teaching, learning and education management, school improvement development plans, and expert assistance from the University’s professional service teams, including its Finance and Human Resources teams.
Alongside the University's sponsorship of UPAT, which includes senior staff as Members and Trustees overseeing UPAT's school improvement journey, the School of Education and Sociology is home to the Education Research, Innovation and Consultancy unit (ERIC).
ERIC was established to evaluate the impact of the University's involvement in the Trust, to embed research and innovation activity at the centre of the Trust's work. ERIC will ensure that schools have access to academics who can enhance the educational experience of children, their families and the local community. ERIC is one of the distinctive benefits a university can bring by sponsoring a Multi-Academy Trust.
Professor Paul Hayes, University of Portsmouth Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “Through the Trust we want to improve educational outcomes and life chances for local communities in Portsmouth and the wider region.
“Working closely with primary schools supports our ambitions to be more involved in the civic life of the city and region, raising educational standards and aspirations in our local community.”
Polly Honeychurch, Interim CEO of UPAT, said: “It is important that schools work together to raise the aspirations and attainment of all of our pupils. Working with a local university gives schools a great opportunity to collaborate more widely. I have been excited to work with the University for the last two years to shape this new academy chain and am privileged to be the first interim CEO.”
Each school will keep its name, continue to operate the same admissions process, uniform policy, term and holiday dates, and offer a broad and balanced curriculum.