Sigma was formally established in September 2016 and consisted of 5 secondary schools, a junior school and an infant and nursery school. In June 2017 the Harwich and Dovercourt High School joined the Trust and 2018 became a very busy year when the Trust was awarded sponsorship of the new free school to be built in Shrub End, Colchester; Paxman Academy. The new school currently being built on the old Alderman Blaxill site is due to open in September 2019 and will eventually have 900 students on site.
On 1st January 2019 the Colne Community School and College and Philip Morant School and College became part of the Trust following re-brokering. Once Paxman Academy opens, Sigma will have around 10,000 pupils, 1400 staff and an annual income of over £50 million. In terms of the number of secondary schools, it will be one of the largest academy trusts in the East of England region. It is also fairly unique in having so many schools in such close proximity to each other. The benefits of this are significant as it allows extensive joint working to take place and provides huge opportunities for staff and students alike. With the agreed expansion we will be able to increase the range of secondment opportunities available for staff development and ensure students have equal curriculum entitlement regardless of the size of school that they attend.
The five original secondary schools within The Sigma Trust all became academies in 2012 as part of the North East Essex Education Partnership (NEEEP). This was a company limited by guarantee and thus effectively operated as an umbrella trust. All of the partner schools therefore have a strong tradition of working collaboratively to achieve the best outcomes for all students in their academies.
Soon after NEEEP was created, there was a desire to extend the partnership to incorporate primary partners. Changes to academy rules meant that this was only possible by establishing separate multi-academy trusts. Two of the secondary schools formed a MAT with the two primary schools in 2014, and one of the other secondary schools became an approved sponsor in 2015. Later that year a decision was taken to simplify this model by creating one single multi-academy trust and, hence, The Sigma Trust was born.
All schools are geographically close enough to provide the necessary support and challenge to take all academies to the next level. We have a set of shared values and a common mission and vision that aims to ensure that no child is left behind. No academy is seen as the “lead” school, and we believe that every school should be a giver as well as a receiver of support. All academies within the Trust retain their cultural autonomy, but we work together to ensure that best practice becomes shared practice.
We are not looking to work in isolation and will continue to collaborate with others to enhance the educational experience of children in the community. In so doing we aim to become a centre of educational excellence and innovation within the area.
Our aspiration for growth is to develop our primary phase and become the MAT of choice for maintained schools and standalone academies in the area. We are not looking to work outside of the North East Essex area, but we have the capacity to provide additional support as required to other MATS in the area and are committed to developing its already outstanding team of staff.