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The key to Question & Answer? Listening!

22nd March 2021

In the last week, and until Easter, we are spending time listening to all those in our communities as we consider merging with Guildford Education Partnership. To this end, we have been running question and answer sessions with schools and union colleagues. Following our information talking head video, these have been invaluable opportunities to review the positives around merger, as well as to better understand the concerns and hopes of colleagues.

Attended by teaching and non-class-based colleagues, we have been able to explore merger considerations. While packaged as a questions and answers session, it has been clear that it is through listening to people’s comments and their expressions that has been most important. Our recent survey on remote learning and staff well-being is testament to this commitment. It is a sign of a healthy trust that it is a listening trust – long may this continue.

Our focus group is a great example of our codesign policy. We wish to be a trust of which we are all proud. To do this, we seek to provide the services, support and challenge to enable us all to thrive. I would like to thank those headteachers, business managers and governors who have been put forward to help contribute to the vision being refined by our trustees. When we are faced with successfully navigating the return to schools, testing, high quality teaching and assessment arrangements, these contributions are highly valued.

As a society, we are often focused on the outcomes of any endeavour. Here it is both our outcome (the trust we will create together) and how we achieve this. Our process must match our ambition. Collaboration and partnership are central concepts in our vision of a merged trust and it is beholden upon us to start as we mean to go on. Once again – it is listening that becomes the key.


We are listening more closely in the classroom than perhaps ever before. What is it our children understand. What are the areas they haven’t quite grasped? How can we develop the mastery of a curriculum discipline, without really understanding the fundamentals that underpin wider learning and progress?

Assessment for learning, the role of questioning, assessment and effective pedagogy all rely on listening, digesting and reframing. This is our challenge as a trust and as educators. Long may we remember this.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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