Learning in a Rural Area


One of the things that rural schools have in common is that they are relatively small compared to the national average. Unfortunately I don’t have the space here to describe both the delights and difficulties of working in a small school, but suffice to say it can be a real challenge at times. To overcome this, our school has formally linked up with all its primary schools and other partners to form the South West Shropshire Learning Trust. In an age when competition between schools encouraged, it is very refreshing to be able to work in a truly collaborative way with like-minded people and for the benefit of the children.

The Learning Trust has been in existence since October 2014 and already has notched up some notably successes: Literacy, mental health provision, mathematical calculation policies, common assessment approaches, teacher exchanges, special education needs provision, sharing services, attitude to learning and outstanding teacher conferences are just some of the things we’ve come together to organise. The main aim is not to save money in these austere times, but to work together to improve the opportunities and support available to young people in South-West Shropshire.This year, for example, we will be jointly employing an Educational Psychologist to work with our more vulnerable students.

As all schools in South West Shropshire are either good or outstanding, we also have a wealth of expertise that is worth sharing. The Trust is a cooperative so we will soon be encouraging local people to join and become members and have a say in what projects we undertake. We’ve already had a very strong steer from our own school councils! We believe the Trust has a lot of potential to be a force for ‘good’ in these difficult times for rural communities.

Alan Doust
The Community College, Bishop’s Castle