Wellspring, the multi-academy trust that prides itself on doing things differently, recently celebrated a decade of transforming schools, communities and lives with a special event held at the school where it all started – The Forest Academy in Barnsley.
The celebration event was attended by around 100 guests and staff from across the Trust on Thursday 30th June, with attendees being treated to a performance by The Forest Academy pupils, catering provided by students at Greenacre School, another Wellspring school, and the premiere of the Wellspring at 10! film, which tells the Wellspring story so far.
As well as the celebration event, Wellspring marked this special anniversary with a host of celebrations, including providing a one-off birthday fund to each of its schools to spend on its outdoor space in line with its Greener Spaces initiative, a commitment to managing the public realm in a manner most beneficial to people, to the local environment, and to the planet.
Wellspring Academy Trust, based in Barnsley, began life in late June 2012 with one school – The Forest Academy. Today, it has 28 schools across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and several more new-build schools in development, manages a number of successful community-based schemes and was named MAT of the Year at the latest National Schools Awards.
Envisaged as a Trust with integrity and a commitment to inclusive practice above all else, Wellspring has stayed true to its original ethos and values. With settings in mainstream primary and secondary alongside special and alternative provision schools, Wellspring is proud to have never permanently excluded a pupil in its 10 years. Its focus on a relational approach towards behaviour and commitment to treating all pupils with unconditional positive regard has made Wellspring a leader in empathetic, trauma-informed teaching.
Determined to extend its reach beyond the classroom into the wider community and deliver on its wider aim of increasing social equity, Wellspring has also developed a number of community-based schemes. Most recently, its Communicolour initiative has seen forgotten grey spaces transformed into outstanding vibrant artwork by acclaimed artists, bringing art and a sense of pride in their surroundings to underprivileged communities.
Mark Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, explains: “From the very beginning, Wellspring has always been about doing things differently. We wanted to focus on supporting every single child in our care, however challenging their behaviour, and supporting communities that faced many difficulties. We know MATs have the potential to deliver huge amounts of good within the classroom and beyond, and we set out to prove that.
“After 10 years of staying values-driven and committed to our ethos of making a difference, I am incredibly proud of the collective achievements of everyone in the Wellspring family. We consistently strive to do more, acting innovatively and creatively to find solutions to the many challenges facing our pupils and communities. We are dedicated to the concept of professional generosity and share our knowledge and expertise with schools across the country, supporting a huge number of schools in being able to offer inclusive, compassionate environments for all children.
“The progress since 2012 is remarkable. Not only have we grown significantly to become a trust which is now in the top 1% in the country by size, but we have developed sector-leading services such as our Josie Thirkell Institute – an education training and knowledge sharing resource offering initial teacher training, research, leadership training and JosieTV, our online broadcast channel offering peer-to-peer knowledge sharing for education professionals.
“As we all take some time to celebrate the incredible successes of this very special organisation and look forward to the next decade, I would like to acknowledge everyone who has played a part, past and present, in enabling Wellspring to make a difference to thousands of people over the last 10 years.”