The Harlington Area Schools Trust (HAST) was formed on 1 September 2008 and marked an important milestone in the history of collaborative education in mid-Bedfordshire. Ten schools in the Harlington pyramid are currently members of the Trust, with another two hoping to join shortly. HAST membership is also given to partners in the local education sector, including the University of Bedfordshire and Central Bedfordshire College. The partners bring significant support and expertise to all areas of the work of HAST.
HAST’s vision is "to provide an exciting and innovative collaborative approach to teaching, learning and governance, in order to ensure that every child in the HAST family receives an excellent well-rounded education from age 3 to 19". No one school can do this in isolation; we all serve the same rural community and work with the same students and their families. We believe it is important to secure a trust-wide strategic intent and to ensure that our plans are sustainable, regardless of what the future may bring to individual schools.
We have seen significant benefits, including:
- Outstanding transition between phases (lower to middle and middle to upper);
- Mixed age, cross-phase collaboration through the Learning Futures projects. Students have worked on environmental campaigns, looking at local issues, and have also become entrepreneurs, developing a product and “selling” it to the other students in a marketplace;
- An accelerated two-year key stage 3 for all pupils;
- Increased flexibility for 13-19 year olds, with more personalised curriculum and assessment routes;
- Cost savings for individual schools and economies of scale across the trust as a result of the business managers sharing information about suppliers and contracting services jointly where possible.
Three Trust schools, Harlington Upper, Parkfields Middle and Toddington St George, have been hosting a specialist provision for Hearing Impaired (HI) students from across Bedfordshire for over 30 years. From 1 April 2012, HAST was awarded the contract from Central Bedfordshire Council to run the Hearing Impaired service for the whole of the authority on its behalf. HAST now supports over 120 HI students from birth to age 19 across the authority, either in the provision schools, or in their local schools.
HAST has also been commissioned to run two other services on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council:
Medical Needs Teaching Service
- This service supports students who are unable to attend their school for long-term medical reasons. They receive teaching in their own home, or another local setting, in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, plus some other subjects where they are fit enough to access these. Pupils remain on the roll of their school, and the Medical Needs team works in partnership with the school to ensure continuity and progression for the pupil, with the aim of enabling them to return to school when possible.
Visual Impairment service
- This service supports students in Central Bedfordshire who have visual impairments. Generally, they attend their local school, and are supported by the VI team, who ensure that they have the right equipment and resources to be able to access the curriculum. The team also supports parents from the time of diagnosis of the impairment, meeting them and their child at home until the child starts school and providing support and advice. There are approximately 100 students on the VI caseload.
HAST hopes that in the near future, all schools in the pyramid will have joined the Trust, which will enable all schools to work together to provide an excellent education for all its learners from age 3-19.
Projects that are currently underway include:
- A data analysis exercise from starting school to GCSE, to identify possible areas on which to focus, to enable all students to attain their full potential at GCSE and beyond;
- A common literacy strategy across the lower and middle schools. HAST funded the purchase of literacy textbooks so that Years 2 to 6 are following the same literacy programme, and improved results in Year 6 have already been observed. It is planned to do the same with Maths textbooks in the next year;
- A project to address how to recruit the best teachers to HAST, which might include cross-phase appointment of staff and training new teachers;
- Collaborative purchasing across the Trust, particularly for recruitment advertising, and services such as grounds maintenance or other maintenance contracts, which should reduce costs for Trust schools, thus making funds available for educational resources.
For more information about the Harlington Area Schools Trust, please visit their website at www.hast-education.co.uk