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I was delighted that 2018 started with all our secondary and primary schools coming together at Sybil Andrews Academy and Newmarket Academy prior to students returning for the new term.

This has become an annual event within Samuel Ward Academy Trust and it is great way of collaborating with school staff in similar positions.

The close-working between schools and staff is a real positive within the Trust and is made possible by the location of the four geographical hubs within west Suffolk.

If one school, or one area, needs a little bit more support, we can quickly ensure that happens.

We also do not rest on our laurels when a school is successful.

It is so important that school staff have an opportunity to talk to peers about their day-to-day roles and responsibilities and any issues they may face.

They can go on training courses and watch a PowerPoint. But I think in any business, it is far better to experience things in ‘real life’ and have the support of others who understand and experience similar things. This brings authenticity and real expertise and support to the process.

This form of mentoring is a real strength in education and it is great to see so many people willing to help others.

And this isn’t just the case inside the classroom.

Our fantastic office staff were also invited to share experiences with others. They can often find themselves in pressurised situations but talking these through with peers certainly helps. The message is that they are not alone.

On the other side, we had experienced teachers sharing problems they had encountered in a structured way to look at what lessons could be learned.

By talking it through, by discussing how to rectify the problem, it means we have a real-life case study which we can apply to other schools or other areas should the need arise.

Another example of this sharing and support is the brilliant Lead Practitioners scheme, led by Andy Samways and Chris Dale at our Research School.

It was wonderful to see an initial eight staff members achieve the LP accreditation which means they will be leaders in sharing best practice throughout their own school, the Trust and other schools across the East of England.

The Research School brings with it more recognition and credibility and it was great to have Jonathan Sharples from the Education Endowment Foundation give four different talks to four different groups throughout the day.

The awards also saw a video played which highlighted what students thought about their teachers. It was truly inspirational.

Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Samuel Ward Academy Trust