Mr Saunders, Rossett Headteacher
Mr Saunders, Rossett Headteacher

Rossett School sets ambitious plans, with a new head teacher, and a move to be part of a multi academy

13 February 2023

Rossett School is embarking on a period of change, with firm plans being put in place to raise the school from Ofsted, Requires Improvement, to Good.

There has been a new leadership change, and the school is in the due diligence stage of joining the Red Kite Learning Trust – both the Trust and new leadership have big aspirations for the school.

  • Headteacher, Helen Woodcock has taken the decision to leave the school
  • Peter Saunders has become the Headteacher
  • Mr Royles, Deputy Headteacher, will cover Mr Saunder’s paternity leave after the half-term break, supported by Mr Sheriff, CEO of Red Kite Learning Trust
  • Currently, Rossett is part of The Red Kite Alliance, but have stayed as a single academy
  • The school is looking at becoming a part of the Red Kite Learning Trust group of schools, part of a multi academy trust

Peter Saunders, originally from Ripon, moved to London to further a career in teaching. He returned to his home area 5-years ago, with a post at Rossett, and has now been made headteacher.

Mr Saunders, Rossett Headteacher, said:

I grew up in Ripon, attended Ripon Grammar School, then studied at Durham.

From there I did all my teacher career in London, prior to coming back up here, 5-years ago. That was a move that took me from Assistant Head to Deputy Headteacher.

Both my parents are teachers, so it is in the blood.

I was part of Teach First, a national charity  that puts undergraduates into challenging schools. It started as an inner-city project, but has now gone to coastal areas, and some rural areas.

I was placed in Islington, North London, where I did my teacher training. From there, I moved on and worked in two other schools, Shepherds Bush and in Harrow. These were all schools with significant challenges.

I am a geography teacher by trade, but then worked up into leadership, and decided that a move back north made sense, given the cost of living in London, and at that time, I had just had a child – we were looking to move back up, and saw the opportunity with Rossett.

Looking at the wide variety of development opportunities at Rossett, it really attracted me.

It has been a really great time so far, with challenges, I have learnt a lot, and enjoyed it.  Certainly one thing that Rossett does well is the professional development of staff, something it shares with the Red Kite Alliance. It is all research-informed, and that is something Ofsted recognises.

Rossett Harrogate
Rossett Harrogate

Richard Sheriff was previously headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, before moving to the role of CEO of the Red Kite Learning Trust (RKLT). He has been closely involved with the school for many years, and has been working with them on the process of taking the school from a single-academy trust into RKLT, multi-academy trust, giving many benefits to the school.

Richard Sheriff, CEO of the Red Kite Learning Trust (RKLT), said:

Rossett has a great history in the town, but in a way that history has only just begun as it is a relatively new school.

Rossett was one of the founder members of the Red Kite Alliance, which is a collaboration of schools in North Yorkshire and Leeds, that work together to make things better for young people.

My work with Rossett goes back to when I first started working in Harrogate, with the headteacher at the time, as we started the Red Kite Alliance.  That started a journey of collaboration and partnership that exists to this day.

For me, the next step of the journey is where we work very closely with our friends and neighbours, serving the same community across the Harrogate District.

At one time there was only the Local Authority, run from Northallerton, and then came the academy movement, where schools were encouraged to become single academy trusts, separate from the Local Authority, funded directly by the Department of Education, but still compressive schools.

The next stage was when government said that they thought it wise for schools to not be alone, but it would be better for independent academies to join together as multi-academies.

Harrogate Grammar School, along with some other schools, started the Red Kite Learning Trust, an evolution from the Alliance. It didn’t make all the schools the same, but it made them all a single legal entity.

With Rossett we are looking at taking them into the Red Kite Learning Trust, or from being friendly cousins (as part of Red Kite Alliance) to being part of the same family. That allows us to share much more of the benefit, from the other 13 schools in the trust.

If Rossett decides to join the trust, that will make 14, and they will bring lots of talent and experience, and help it develop further.

But being in a trust Rossett will keep its unique identity, supported with that through the Trust.

My job as Trust leader is help Peter and the team here to make this school brilliant. It’s not to do it for them, but to help them make it brilliant.

We are really really ambitious for this school, as is Peter (head teacher).

We have been through a long period of discussion between the governing body of Rossett, and the Red Kite Learning Trust. The governing body has taken a decision to join the trust, after a great deal of due diligence, and looking at other options.

The detail work is now being done looking at various elements of the school (ie, financial position, buildings position etc) to make sure there are no surprises or risks to either side. There is work to be done around the legal side of things.

We expect that to be complete by the end of March to April, and then a final decision to be made. If it goes ahead, then we would expect Rossett to become part of Red Kite Learning Trust by the 1 September 2023.

The School currently has a Requires Improvement Ofsted Rating in two areas, but a Good rating in three other areas.

Requires Improvement:

  • Leadership and Management
  • Behaviour and attitudes

Good in:

  • The quality of education
  • Personal development
  • Sixth Form provision

Mr Saunders, Rossett Headteacher, said:

There is a very ambitious plan for the next 5-years, with a short-term plan for what we will be doing with the school immediately, in terms of raising standards, and raising the bar for students.

We initially want to get back to a good rating from Ofsted.

An important thing to note, that not everyone will have seen, is the significant progress already made. Even though the overall grading remains the same, within the categories of Ofsted, two areas moved forward into Good, compared to the last inspection. They are two really critical areas for the school that have been recognised as strongly good.

But it’s the other two areas that needs that immediate attention.

One of the two aspects picked out, under Leadership and Management, was a quick fix and has already been rectified. That was done immediately after the inspection.

For the second one, under Behaviour and Attitudes, we are on a rapid journey of improvement. We are using external support to review what we are doing, to ensure we are moving in the right direction. We had an external review, only last week, that indicated progress had been made with behaviour and attitudes.

So the short-term is getting those two areas back to good, for the next inspection, which is likely within the year.

Following on from that, it is about being a school that represents excellence in the community. We expect that the links with the Red Kite Learning Trust will help us to do that.

I am very ambitious for the children here., and I want them to have an excellent education. I want it to be somewhere that people are extremely proud to send their children, and somewhere that the children are proud to come to.

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