AN ORGANISATION set up to boost students’ achievements in South Lakeland is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Founded in July, 2004, the South Lakes Federation (SLF) is made up of a network of dedicated head teachers and principals committed to raising standards across the part-nership and is responsible for around 6,500 pupils.
Its vision was to create a curriculum that catered for the needs of all students including those who struggle with day-to-day mainstream education by developing a number of innovative joint cross-school and college courses.
It also sought to seek out and share best practice and improve professional development for teachers.
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Ten years on, its original members Cartmel Priory, Dallam, John Ruskin, Kirkbie Kendal, Lakes, Queen Elizabeth School, Queen Katherine School, Settlebeck, Sandgate Special School, Kendal College and the University of Cumbria are all still going strong and have been joined by Appleby School.
“At that time, ten years ago, schools and the college were already working together and decided that a more formal agreement to secure high quality education across all its partners was the key aim,” said executive officer Enid Fraser. “A move to company status demonstrated genuine com-mitment.”
She added: “The government is encouraging schools to work together – more specifically for ‘strong’ schools to support ’weaker’ schools – but this is not the SLF model.
“The SLF starts from the prin-ciple that there are many strengths within all our education providers and that each one benefits from pooling those strengths. Identifying and sharing new ideas and solving problems together benefits every organisation and all young people in the federation.”
Stephen Wilkinson, chair of the SLF and executive head teacher at QKS in Kendal, said: “The SLF is a creative way we can do things collectively where individually you might hit a brick wall.
“We are turning out students who are much more ready to face the opportunities and challenges in the world than they would be if they relied on a single institution.”
Phil Hyman, head teacher at Kirkbie Kendal, said: “The professional development that it provides for both teachers and support staff is vital to the outstanding education for all our students.”
Andy Cunningham, head teacher at The Lakes School, Troutbeck Bridge, said: “What’s great for me is how incredibly supportive this team and network is.”
Judith Greene, head teacher at Settlebeck School, said it allowed schools to ‘challenge each other’, promoting a ‘sense of high-quality among all schools to keep the bar high’.
And Mrs Fraser has promised the SLF will not rest on its laurels.
“This year, the SLF has decided to challenge itself even more by being more rigorous in the expectations of every organisation in the partnership and by more formally holding each other to account for progress,” she added.