Case Study: Multi-academy trust putting social action at its core

Ormiston Academies Trust are making social action a vital part of education for all of its 29,000 pupils across England

“I love meeting with my #iwill pupils – it reminds me why I became a teacher – there’s no prouder feeling than sitting back and watching them get excited over what they’re planning. It’s an incredible opportunity for staff and pupils to collaborate and do something that makes a difference in so many ways.” 

Andrea Connolly, teacher at Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy

“The work of everyone within OAT is defined by the children that we serve. Their future is our purpose. […] If we are to make the biggest difference, inside and outside the classroom, our success will not only be […] academic outcomes. We value the wider enrichment experience which educates the whole child.”  

OAT Strategy 2019 – 2023

At Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) we’re committed to enriching the lives of our pupils, to broaden their horizons and raise aspirations. Our ambition is for all our schools to engage and inspire pupils through our wide, varied, impactful and sustainable enrichment programme. This programme is embedded within and complements curriculum delivery, offering real opportunities for our pupils’ to develop their social, emotional and life competencies.

We’re proud to be part of the #iwill campaign. Our commitment to social action comes from the heart of our ethos; specifically, our focus on educating the whole young person. In developing their character, life skills and wellbeing, our pupils contribute positively to their schools and communities, and learn how to be respectful, active citizens.

We’re a family of 38 schools, educating 29,000 pupils from primary to secondary, across six English regions, so coordinating anything takes work. But a social action ethos is embedded into the heart of the strategy shaping every idea, academy, pupil and employee at OAT. By making it a key pillar on which our work is built, we ensure it’s never seen as secondary to a good education – but instead a vital part of it.

Enabling young people to feel ownership of social action can be challenging with many different barriers to overcome. We’ve found that the most important things in helping engage and inspire our young people are the abilities to listen, to learn from each other, to make it fun, and to make it matter.

When selecting individual #iwill projects, we put control in the hands of our pupils, who formed academy-level steering groups to decide what mattered most to them. By making projects relatable on a local scale, they become accessible. And by giving our pupils the opportunity to support their community’s individuality, we’re creating a network of support, where best practice, differences and similarities can be highlighted and celebrated across the academy, OAT family and wider community.

It doesn’t stop there though. Our pupils’ voices are important to us. And we think they’re important in the wider national debate around social action and societal issues, too. That’s why alongside these projects, we’re also creating the first ever OAT wide ‘Student Voice’ council. This council will lead on a national #iwill project and give our pupils the power to use their voices to create positive change throughout the organisation.

As we move forward, we continue to place our pupils at the heart of what we’re doing. It’s that ethos that we believe will help us build a bright future for social action across our academies, and our communities too.

Take a look at all the stories coming from #iwill at OAT here. Find out more about OAT and #iwill here.