The Schools Network
The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), is a not-for-profit membership organisation which aims to raise achievement in schools in England and internationally.
It has a membership of more than 5,000 schools in England and around the world through its iNet international network.
The Schools Network is constituted as a registered charity under English law – charity number: 296729. Its object is “To give practical support to transforming education by building and enabling a world-class network of innovative, high-performing schools and academies in partnership with business and the wider community.”
The Schools Network has a membership that includes secondary schools and academies in England, along with special schools and primary schools. It also has further education colleges, higher education institutions and local authorities in membership. The network’s international arm iNet includes schools from 36 countries around the world.
The Schools Network was first established in 1987 as the City Technology Colleges Trust supporting the establishment of the first 15 City Technology Colleges.
The trust’s role expanded to support the establishment of specialist schools across a number of subject areas and was renamed the Specialist Schools Trust in 2003.
In 2005 the Specialist Schools Trust started to work with academies and their sponsors, supporting them in their efforts to raise standards and to develop strong leadership and innovative structures. It was at this time that it changed its name to The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.
In September 2010, the coalition Government decided to end ring-fencing of grants to schools to fund their specialist status. The trust’s three-year contract with the Department for Education to support the specialist schools programme ended on 31 March this year.
The trust’s contract with the Department for Education to support the sponsored academies programme ended in August 2011 although it continues its close links with academy principals and sponsors and supports schools converting to academy status.
The organisation has reduced in size as central government contracts have been completed.
The trust became known as the Schools Network in September 2011 to reflect the breadth of its work with schools such as special schools and primary schools.
The Schools Network runs a number of continuous professional development programmes for teachers, offers support to sponsored academies and schools converting to academy status. It also offers support to schools and academies in the use of data analysis and supports networks of schools and academies across a number of subject areas.
It runs numerous events for teachers and school leaders, including its annual national conference in the autumn.
In June, Lord Adonis, the former UK Cabinet Minister and education advisor to Tony Blair, delivered the organisation’s Annual Lecture on links between state schools and the private sector in education.
The Schools Network supports the iNet network of schools in 34 countries. iNet was established in 2004 and currently includes schools in China, the United States of America, New Zealand, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
In 2006 the trust established the world’s first school-based Confucius Institute, in partnership with the Office of Chinese Language International (Hanban) The SSAT Confucius Institute now has a network of 34 Confucius Classrooms in schools, specialising in the teaching of Mandarin Chinese.
In November 2010 the trust signed an agreement with Hanban to train 1,000 teachers of Chinese.
The trust also manages a number of schools in Abu Dhabi.
The Schools Network is governed by a board with a Chief Executive, Sue Williamson, who succeeded Elizabeth Reid, responsible for day-to-day leadership and management. It is supported by a network of headteacher steering groups and a national head teacher steering group.
- Charity Commission
- The Times, Holding firm to elevating standards in education 4 March 2011 p69
- History of The Schools Network
- Gove announces changes to the specialist schools programme
- The Schools Network - what we do
- Michael Gove's China Lecture 2011
- Sec Ed article on Michael Gove's China Lecture
- Lord Adonis - Schools Network Annual Lecture 2011
- Guardian article on academy sponsorship
- TES article on academy sponsorship
- The Schools Network country networks
- Hanban News article on The Schools Network Confucius Institute
- The Schools Network Confucius Institute
- Education Department article on Mandarin teaching and UK-China partnership
- The Schools Network Abu Dhabi
- The Schools Network board
- The Schools Network National Headteacher Steering Group