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National Education Trust

          ‘A Short History To The Future’

Roy Blatchford CBE

The National Education Trust was established as a registered charity in September 2006, with the aim of being an ‘education do-tank’ akin to the King’s Fund in health. What began with two unpaid staff and a donated one-room London office has been followed by twelve years of fascinating and undreamt of development.

A.  What has been achieved?

  1. Primary, special and secondary schools across the country have looked to NET for an authoritative, independent voice on the education scene. Through invitation seminars, conferences and lectures NET has promoted best practice and innovation, hosting events from Newcastle to Truro, Liverpool to the Medway, Sheffield to Southampton.
  2. Our various publications have been critical to NET’s successful profile and influence with policy makers, allied to a number of the staff serving on government committees: teachers’ standards, headteachers’ standards, teaching assistants’ standards. NET’s books on the primary curriculum and the pupil premium have been national bestsellers to schools.
  3. These books and other publications have been the bedrock of successful leadership and school improvement contracts with a wide variety of local authorities, academy sponsors, school clusters, learning alliances and individual schools.
  4. NET has punched above its weight through the networks of associate directors, leading thinkers, associates and advocacy schools, all of whom have shared common values and a vision about education rooted in top quality classroom practices.
  5. For the past five years NET has been a primary academy sponsor rooted in a strong reputation for school improvement. The highly respected NET brand is being realised in these academies today: harnessing therichness of our education research, our experience of great leadershipdevelopment, our knowledge of ways to address disadvantage and sustain excellence in the classroom.

B. What lies ahead for NET?

Arguably, since its birth the National Education Trust has followed the mantra of the American business guru Jim Collins who, in his seminal work Good to Great, wrote:

Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and – quite literally – accident. What looks in retrospect like brilliant foresight and pre-planning was often the result of ‘Let’s just try a lot of stuff and keep what works’.

The Trust’s future will require greater method: sustaining past and current successes, harnessing the considerable NET diaspora, and continuing to deliver impact and influence.

At any given point in time, a dynamic UK educational scene is the backcloth. My view is that five key themes are set to permeate the coming period:

• Social mobility
• Young people’s health and well-being
• High performance learning, benchmarked against international best
• The school-led system and self-regulation
• Multi-academy trusts and school partnerships shaping ‘the middle tier’, amidst a landscape of mergers and acquisitions.

As the Trust has done successfully over the past years, NET will:

• anticipate and respond with agility to key national movements and initiatives in education
• climb inside politicians’ thinking
• network tirelessly
• maintain real credibility with teachers and school leaders
• create high quality intellectual property
• build the academy brand through its ‘model schools’.

Thus NET will continue with its trusted and distinctive mission of operating with credibility and authority ‘from the classroom to Whitehall’.

Whatever comes to pass in the education landscape, I am confident that the National Education Trust will model best classroom practices in its academies and be an authoritative and independent voice at the top tables.

Roy Blatchford is founding director of NET and Chair of NET Members.

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