Background

Formerly Park View Educational Trust (PVET), CORE Education Trust was founded in March 2015. PVET previously sponsored Park View School, Nansen Primary School and Golden Hillock School, all of which are in Birmingham, England.

In 2014, one of the biggest education stories of recent years resulted in regional and then national media coverage. A letter came to light, apparently written by conspirators, of a ‘Trojan Horse’ scheme to introduce an Islamist or Salafist ethos into several schools in Birmingham. It sparked snap Ofsted inspections at 21 schools in Birmingham – five of which were placed in special measures and rated ‘inadequate’. Park View was judged to be at the centre of the plot. In September 2014, Adrian Packer was appointed Executive Head Teacher of PVET.

Over time, he and others helped to transform Park View establishing CORE Education Trust in the process. Golden Hillock was rebrokered and is now one of 35 UK schools to be sponsored by charity Ark. Park View was renamed Rockwood Academy and it, together with Nansen Primary, continue to be sponsored by CORE.


Brief

Clarke Associates was appointed in summer 2015, with the objective of promoting the significant recent achievements of the Trust and its two schools. Whilst much of our work was continuing to react to media enquiries and ensuring consistent and positive messages, we were also responsible for developing stories around the hugely positive work and results that were being achieved.


Methods

Both Rockwood and Nansen benefited from a pro-active approach involving visits by local, regional and national media and publicising initiatives that were instrumental in not only improving the educational performance but also the standing of the schools and the Trust.

Reactive work helped to forge positive relationships with journalists and communicating change and school successes. Media briefings and seeing is believing tours helped to communicate the achievements of the Trust and both schools.


Outcome

Our stated goal at the outset of our work was to get to the point where the more recent successes and achievements of the schools and the Trust were sufficient to overshadow the stigma associated with Trojan Horse. It was a tall order and it took more than two years to achieve. And whilst the tag of Trojan Horse is still occasionally cited in coverage, it has nonetheless diminished significantly and the enhanced reputation takes precedence.

We are proud of the work that we achieved in conjunction with the Trust and the two schools. Working in a close partnership enabled us to deliver on the Trust’s behalf. We could not have done it without the positive and willing attitude of the Trust and its leadership – and we rather think that the Trust could not have achieved it without us.

“It is little more than a year since we started working with Clarke Associates (July 2015) and we have been delighted with the level of hands-on, 24/7 support and their sound advice and guidance.

Both the Trust and our schools now enjoy a productive and positive relationship with the media; we have gained the respect of our peers and we have received numerous accolades for our work and ambitions.

These positive outcomes are not just the efforts of one person or one organisation, but through working closely together – and Clarke Associates has become a valued and integral part of our team. They are there when we need them and always give clear and careful consideration to both issues and opportunities. Their contacts and influence are extensive and they always keep our best interests at heart.

They also know and understand the changing education scene.

Long may our partnership continue.”

Adrian Packer, CEO of CORE Education Trust