Celebrating Pets in Schools: A Paw-sitive Experience at REAch2 Academy Trust

National Pet Day is a delightful occasion that encourages us to recognise and appreciate the furry, feathered, and scaly companions who bring joy and comfort into our lives. As we celebrate this special day, let’s turn our attention to the remarkable impact of pets within our school communities.

At REAch2 Academy Trust, where education and compassion go hand in paw, pets play an essential role in teaching children about life lessons such as responsibility, empathy, and compassion.

Our Pet Pioneers at REAch2

Barkley and Barney at Green Ridge Academy

A photo of Barkley - the school dog; on some grass.
A photo of Barney on the floor.

Barney is the new school dog at Green Ridge Academy. He is a red cavapoo and has been attending the school since he was just 12 weeks old. Barney is 8 months old and has already settled into life at Green Ridge excellently. Barney is training to become a therapy dog with the PAWS Therapy Dog programme and is currently enrolled in the Good Companion Award and is completing foundation level.

Barkley has been the school dog at Green Ridge since we opened seven years ago. Despite being in his senior years now and slowing down he is still much loved by all the children and staff. His highlights at work include hearing children read, being taken for walks on the field and hoovering the hall floor after lunchtime.

Tom and Jerry at Tidemill Academy

Words provided by the Year 6 children at Tidemill Academy –

Tom and Jerry are our two class pets and have lived a great life so far. They have lived in a plastic cage at the back of the class. There was a time when everyone came in on a Monday, to see that Tom had climbed to the top of the cage! Then, he fell off onto the soil and kept on climbing. He had a lot of resilience. Tom and Jerry are a unique species of snails; Giant African land snails. They are one of the largest ones in the world. They are not mammals nor reptiles as they are malluses. At the end of term, the snails were ready to be picked up by the children. We were told to be very gentle as they are very delicate. The snails slithered on our hands and it was a great experience!

Luna at Sprites Primary Academy

Luna lives with Sprites Academy Deputy Headteacher, Mr Ashley and his family.  Luna is a very caring, docile, gentle and well-behaved dog who was selected for having the right breeding and temperament to be a therapy dog. She has experience of being in a school from when she was a puppy, and has learned how to react well to children.

The Educational Benefits

Empathy and Compassion
Pets teach children empathy and compassion. When children care for animals, they develop a deeper understanding of their needs and emotions. Whether it’s feeding, grooming, or simply offering a gentle pat, these interactions foster kindness and emotional intelligence.

Stress Reduction
Petting a dog or watching fish swim can reduce stress and anxiety. They remind us to pause, breathe, and appreciate the simple joys of life.

Responsibility and Routine
Caring for pets instills a sense of responsibility. Children learn about routines, feeding schedules, and cleanliness. These lessons extend beyond the classroom, preparing them for life’s responsibilities.

Celebrate with Us!

On this National Pet Day, let’s celebrate the paw-sitive impact of pets in our schools. Whether it’s a wagging tail, a gentle purr, or a chirpy tweet, our animal companions enrich our lives and create lasting memories. Remember, every day can be a pet day—so give your furry friend an extra treat and a heartfelt pat today! 🐾🐶🐱🐰🦜

To learn more about the schools mentioned in this article, please take a look at their website:

Green Ridge Academy
Sprites Academy
Tidemill Academy

Welcoming Aqueduct Primary School into the REAch2 Academy Trust!

REAch2 Academy Trust is delighted to announce the newest addition to our family of schools: Aqueduct Primary Academy in Telford. Effective April 1, 2024, Aqueduct officially became a part of REAch2 Academy Trust, marking a significant milestone in our collective journey of school improvement.

Amid recent challenges, the school's senior leadership team and the DfE, together with the trust, collaboratively concluded that Aqueduct and REAch2 are well-suited for a successful partnership. Together, we are enthusiastic about embarking on a shared mission to elevate the school's provision and enhance the learning experiences for all its children, embodying our Trust's commitment to 'Always aim higher'.

As of 1 April 2024, Aqueduct Primary joins Bushbury Lane, Heath Hayes, Lawley Village, Norton Canes, Silkmore, Veritas and Apley Wood (also joining on 1st April) within Cluster 1.  Gerry Crofts, Deputy Director of Education in Cluster 1 has said, “Our collaboration represents the beginning of a dynamic partnership. Alongside the Senior Leadership Team at the school, we're eager to enhance outcomes and enrich the learning experience for every child at Aqueduct Primary School."

With 60 academies across the UK, boasting an impressive 95% rating of Good or Better, REAch2 brings a wealth of school improvement experience and resources to the partnership. Cathie Paine, CEO of REAch2 Academy Trust, emphasised the Trust's unwavering commitment, “We warmly welcome Aqueduct into our family of schools. Along with the staff and senior leaders, we share a common purpose to elevate Aqueduct Primary Academy to new heights, striving for excellence and ensuring that every child receives a truly great primary education.”

Tammy Lockley, the Headteacher at Aqueduct, has been intricately involved in the conversion process and eagerly anticipates working with schools within Cluster 1 while leveraging additional support from REAch2 Academy Trust. Mrs. Lockley expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “REAch2 have not only shown their commitment to support us in Aqueduct’s journey, but have been welcoming and positive. We are pleased that they share our passion to make every child successful and happy. We are excited to become part of such an accomplished academy trust.”

Welcoming Apley Wood Primary into the REAch2 Academy Trust!

REAch2 Academy Trust proudly announces the addition of Apley Wood Primary Academy, situated in the north of Telford, into our Trust on 1 April 2024. This marks an exciting time for both the Trust and school, indicating a new era of collaboration and shared commitment to exceptional education for the children, dedicated staff, and the wider community. Apley Wood's integration signifies an important milestone at REAch2, being the first academy conversion since Springfield Primary Academy in 2018.

In 2019 REAch2 brought in a 10 cluster model of support, with a Deputy Director of Education responsible for each of clusters. This was to ensure we have the necessary capacity and expertise to sustain and develop excellent performance across our academies. Apley Wood will be joining Bushbury Lane, Heath Hayes, Lawley Village, Norton Canes, Silkmore and Veritas within Cluster 1.

Gerry Crofts, Deputy Director of Education in Cluster 1 has said, "We're delighted to be welcoming Apley Wood Primary Academy into our Trust, their integration has already been warmly embraced by all schools within Cluster 1. We're confident in their strengths, which will undoubtedly enhance the collaborative opportunities in the Cluster and the wider Trust."

CEO of REAch2, Cathie Paine, has been especially pleased with the news following the DfE Advisory Board in November and has said, “We’re thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Apley Wood Primary, embracing them wholeheartedly into our family of schools. This conversion marks a significant step in our Trust's journey of sustained growth, and we're excited about the prospects this brings to Cluster 1 and the Trust as a whole. We look forward to 1 April 2024, and to welcoming the school, staff, children, families, and the wider community into REAch2.”

During the many meetings at the school with the Headteacher and staff, it became evident that Apley Wood's resolute dedication to “a high-quality learning environment and inspirational teaching which develop happy and successful pupils within an inclusive academic culture” resonates harmoniously with the touchstone values of REAch2. This alignment reaffirms our belief that Apley Wood's ethos will seamlessly complement and enrich the fabric of Cluster 1 and our Trust as a whole, further elevating the standard of excellence we strive for across all our schools.

Ellen Smith, the Headteacher at Apley Wood Primary Academy, began her journey as Deputy Headteacher in 2012 and has since evolved into the role of Headteacher, steering the school's success. With expertise in Special Educational Needs (SEN) and a history of collaboration with the Severn Teaching School Alliance, Ellen has extended support beyond Telford, impacting neighbouring Local Authorities. Mrs Smith has said, “I am thrilled to be joining REAch2 and embarking on this exciting new chapter for everyone at Apley Wood Primary. We are looking forward to embracing the opportunity of joining the Trust as it is not just a step forward but a leap towards endless possibilities and collective growth for our children and staff.”

Lawley Village Academy Expansion: Great schools for local communities

In the heart of Lawley Village, a transformational project is underway at Lawley Village Academy, signalling a new chapter in its educational journey. After navigating a challenging planning consultation over the summer, the academy is evolving from a 1FE Primary to a 2FE Primary and Nursery provision. The expansion, long overdue due to the rapid growth in housing in the area, is a testament to the school's commitment to meeting the evolving needs of its community. 

 The expansion project, a collaborative effort between Telford & Wrekin Council, REAch2 Academy Trust, and Pave Aways Building Contractors, exemplifies effective partnership in action. Despite the complexities, the teams have managed to ensure that the school remains fully operational throughout the construction, showcasing a seamless blend of education and development. 

 Amidst the construction buzz, parents, staff, and most importantly, the children, actively participate in the unfolding of the expansion. With Perspex windows strategically cut into the hoarding along the playground perimeter, children have a first-hand view of the construction machinery, fostering excitement and anticipation for the completed project. 

Claire Freestone, Head Teacher at Lawley Village Academy, expresses her enthusiasm, stating, "It is a really exciting time for everyone at Lawley Village Academy." She highlights the inclusive approach taken by builders, who have invited children class by class to witness the structure, even providing them with hard hats. The academy's warm welcome extends beyond its walls, with small windows in the fencing allowing children to observe machinery and envision the future. 

 Lee Francis, Project Lead for the REAch2 Programme Management Office, emphasizes the importance of a strong working relationship. "By establishing a very good working relationship from day 1, it has meant we have been able to work extremely closely with the contractor and LA to get exactly what the school needs from this expansion," says Francis. He commends the school's flexibility, ensuring that the expansion aligns with the safety and educational needs of both pupils and staff. 

 Cathie Paine, CEO of REAch2 Academy Trust envisions the expansion as a transformative milestone, stating, "Our commitment to providing great schools for local communities is reflected in the expansion of Lawley Village Academy. We are thrilled to be expanding our provision of a great education for children and wider support for families as the school doubles in size.” 


The journey towards expansion is expected to culminate in late summer 2024, with the newly enhanced Lawley Village Academy ready to welcome a new intake of students in September 2024. The anticipation is palpable as the community envisions an enriched educational environment that reflects the vibrant and growing Lawley Village. 



School Spotlight: Tidemill Academy latest in Attendance Hubs approved by DFE

In the ongoing pursuit of fostering regular attendance as a cornerstone of children's education, Tidemill Academy has emerged as a beacon of excellence. Recently approved by the Department for Education (DFE), Tidemill Academy is the latest addition to the prestigious list of Attendance Hubs, taking a pivotal role in supporting and guiding schools across England in boosting their attendance rates.

Attendance Hubs, a government-backed initiative, are led by schools with exceptional attendance records. These hubs serve as platforms for the exchange of practical ideas among primary, secondary, alternative provision, and special schools striving to enhance their attendance.

Improving attendance is not just about meeting targets; it is about laying the foundation for academic success, positively impacting mental health and wellbeing. Evidence consistently shows a positive correlation between higher attendance and academic success across all key stages. Moreover, regular attendance contributes to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, emphasizing the holistic impact of education on the lives of students. 

 Tidemill Academy was identified as an ideal candidate for an Attendance Hub due to its exemplary attendance records and high levels of attainment. As a hub school, Tidemill is tasked with sharing its effective systems, processes, and attendance resources with a group of school leaders facing similar challenges. The hub group, including Tidemill, will convene regularly to discuss strategies, challenges, and successes in the realm of attendance improvement. 

Encouraging a sector-led approach to address high absence is at the core of this initiative. Leveraging the existing expertise within schools and trusts, the aim is to create a collaborative environment where successful practices can be shared, refined, and implemented to tackle attendance challenges. The peer support basis of the hub meetings facilitates an ongoing professional dialogue among school leaders, fostering a community dedicated to overcoming the common obstacle of high absence. 

In the spirit of collaboration and shared expertise, Tidemill Academy and other hub lead schools are driving positive change, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive through consistent and meaningful attendance. 

Harlow’s Water Lane Primary School Takes Flight in Sustainable Aviation Education

London Stansted has introduced the Jet Zero curriculum, aiming to inspire the next generation of environmentally conscious aviators. The program, designed for local schools like REAch2’s Water Lane Primary Academy, had its first session on October 13 at the Aerozone Education Centre. 

 Using interactive game technology, Year 3 pupils explored the creation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and its role in achieving net-zero aviation by 2050.  

 This initial step into sustainable flying education is just the prelude to a comprehensive curriculum, with the second phase set to launch later this year. The initiative aligns seamlessly with London Stansted's owner, MAG, and their Jet Zero Education pledge—a commitment made in July 2022, concurrent with the UK Government's Jet Zero Strategy publication. 

 Miss D Farquhar, Water Lane Primary Academy's Science Lead, shared her long connection with the Aerozone Education Centre, highlighting its consistent role in delivering captivating STEM learning experiences to the pupils. The visits, she noted, have consistently captivated children's interest, featuring key speakers such as ground staff, pilots, air hostesses, and engineers. The immersive day includes visits to a dedicated platform for close-up aircraft viewing, complete with flashing lights from friendly pilots, and hands-on activities with the fire brigade, allowing children to wield water hoses like real firefighters. 




 Lily-Mae Clark, aged 7, a participant in the visit, succinctly described the experience as "out of this world." 

 London Stansted's Jet Zero curriculum aim is to impart essential knowledge about sustainable aviation but also serves as a multidisciplinary platform supporting subjects like Geography, Careers, History, and various STEM activities related to forces, motion, speed, and engineering. The program aims not only to educate but to inspire, fostering a new generation of environmentally conscious aviation enthusiasts who are ready to soar to new heights. 


 REAch2 Academy Trust values environmental responsibility and recognises the importance of incorporating sustainable aviation education into school curricula. This aligns with the our commitment to providing a well-rounded education that extends beyond traditional boundaries. By promoting awareness of sustainable practices, we aim to equip pupils with the knowledge and mindset to contribute positively to a greener future. This approach not only supports sustainability goals but also prepares our pupils to be responsible global citizens who understand the balance between technological advancements and environmental stewardship. 

REAch2 Academy Trust Shines at MATPN Conference

We are thrilled to share the success of REAch2 Academy Trust at the recent MATPN Conference, where our esteemed Chief Executive Officer, Cathie Paine, Chaired and Director of HR, Sue Northend, took part in thought-provoking discussions and showcase sessions.

Cathie Paine shared her insights in a panel discussion focusing on "Prioritising Our People." The conversation explored strategies and initiatives to create an inclusive working environment, emphasising the profound benefits for staff wellbeing and overall performance. Attendees gained valuable insights into transformative effects on staff retention, productivity, and fostering a sense of belonging.

In a second panel discussion, Cathie delved into the challenges of meeting diverse needs in mainstream education. She explored emerging trends, shifting dynamics, and innovative strategies for educational leaders, providing practical solutions to ensure inclusivity and success for all pupils.

A photo of CEO, Cathie Paine on Stage at MAPN

Cathie Paine also shared her expertise in a showcase session, offering invaluable insights on leading a Multi-Academy Trust. Topics included emotional and practical aspects of becoming a MAT leader, efficient diary organization, available resources, effective board management, and mental health and wellbeing preparation. This session provided practical takeaways for current and aspiring MAT leaders.

Sue Northend, our Director of HR, delivered a compelling presentation on "Organisational Change at Scale." She explored the potential of GAG pooling and shared services to optimise resources, improve collaboration, and enhance educational outcomes. Drawing from real-life experience and expert insights, Sue's presentation provided knowledge and strategies to navigate the complexities of change, leverage synergies, and foster a culture of innovation and excellence.

REAch2 Academy Trust continues to lead in educational excellence and inclusivity. The insights and strategies shared by Cathie Paine and Sue Northend at the MATPN Conference have undoubtedly inspired and empowered education leaders, shaping the future of our Trust and the broader educational landscape

Veritas Primary Academy Excels with Continued “Good” Rating by Ofsted

Veritas Primary Academy, under the leadership of Headteacher Danielle Conneely, proudly maintains its status as a "good" school, as affirmed by the recent Ofsted report published at the end of November. 

A School Where Happiness and Excellence Coexist 

 Ofsted inspectors judged Veritas Primary Academy as more than just a school; it's a friendly, welcoming community where children find joy, safety, and success. Pupils take pride in their school, relishing in their achievements and embodying the values instilled in them.  

 The report highlights the exceptional behaviour of pupils, describing them as polite, well-mannered, and diligent. Veritas was found to go beyond conventional education by providing a diverse range of extracurricular activities. From archery and cookery to wheelchair basketball, pupils discover and develop new talents and interests. The school's commitment to physical health is evident through various sports activities, while residential visits offer opportunities for acquiring skills like kayaking and abseiling. 


Leadership roles, such as school captains and librarians, empower students to cultivate essential leadership and teamwork skills. The school takes pride in fostering a respectful environment where children appreciate diversity, learning about various cultures and religions. 

Veritas excels in supporting the youngest learners, ensuring a solid start to their educational journey. Reading holds a central place in the curriculum, with initiatives like book fairs and reading programs fostering a love for literature. It stands out for its inclusive approach, prioritising pupils with SEND and offering an extensive wider curriculum. Trips and experiences enhance the students' learning journey, deepening their understanding and appreciation for the world around them. 



The school actively promotes a positive work environment, with well-supported staff managing their workload efficiently. Appreciation days and team-building sessions contribute to the overall well-being of the school community. 

In conclusion, Veritas Primary Academy's commitment to excellence, inclusivity, and continuous improvement shines through in the recent Ofsted report. The school remains dedicated to providing a nurturing and vibrant learning environment for all its children showing its firm commitment to our Trust’s ‘Great Schools’ strategy. 

Empowering Women in Leadership: Insights from the E-ACT Ideas Conference

The E-ACT Ideas - Women into Leadership Conference unfolded with a stellar line-up of speakers, among them our very own CEO, Cathie Paine. With a theme centred around inspiration, the event aimed to bring together female leaders and aspiring leaders, exploring the challenges women encounter in their career progression and offering strategies to thrive in leadership roles. 

The conference was tailored to support women aspiring to leadership roles or contemplating their next steps in leadership. It delved into the intricate topic of gender inequality, addressing common themes faced by female leaders. Participants had the opportunity to hear from inspirational women who have paved the way, engage in discussions, and draw motivation and empowerment from shared stories. 

CEO, Cathie Paine with a children in a classroom.

Key Sessions: 

Navigating Imposter Syndrome:

Participants at the E-ACT Ideas - Women into Leadership Conference delved into effective strategies for overcoming self-doubt and embracing their true potential. 

Stepping into Leadership:

Aspiring leaders gained valuable insights into the skills and knowledge required for successful leadership roles, setting the stage for their next career steps. 

Balancing Work and Life:

The conference uncovered practical tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, offering valuable guidance to those pursuing leadership goals. 

Thriving Amid Adversity:

In a session on thriving during unexpected challenges, attendees heard stories and learned strategies to thrive and lead in the face of adversity.  The event provided a platform for three of our exceptional Headteachers to participate and share their insights. 

Cathie Paine Keynote:

Going from class teacher to CEO:  the importance of humility, authenticity, vulnerability, creativity and intentionality.  

In the insightful keynote address by Cathie Paine, participants were taken on her journey from a dedicated class teacher to the CEO of the largest primary-only Multi-Academy Trust in the country, shedding light on the crucial values and personal principles that defined each step along the way. Cathie emphasized the paramount importance of humility, serving as the cornerstone that allows a leader to continuously learn and grow. Authenticity emerged as a guiding principle, steering actions and decisions with genuine sincerity, fostering a sense of trust and connection. The power of vulnerability was underscored, recognising its role in building authentic relationships and creating a culture of openness.

The keynote delved into the dynamic interplay of creativity, showcasing its pivotal role in driving innovation and propelling the organisation forward. Intentionality emerged as the rudder steering the course, ensuring every decision and initiative aligns with a purposeful vision. Cathie Paine's address not only shared personal insights but provided a roadmap for aspiring leaders, emphasizing the multifaceted qualities essential for navigating the intricate path from a classroom teacher to a visionary CEO. 

Celebrating World Children’s Day by highlighting Gold Accreditation at Greenridge Primary Academy

World Children's Day, observed on November 20th, holds a special place in our hearts at REAch2 Academy Trust. Established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day, it aims to promote international togetherness, raise awareness among children worldwide, and improve children's welfare. This significant day also commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 by the UN General Assembly. Today, as we celebrate World Children's Day, we take pride in highlighting the achievements of one of our Rights Respecting Schools—Greenridge Primary Academy.

Greenridge Primary Academy's Gold Accreditation

Greenridge Primary Academy recently achieved Gold Accreditation as a Rights Respecting School, marking the culmination of a remarkable three-year journey. With 477 pupils on roll, including 18% eligible for Free School Meals, 19.4% with special educational needs, and 28.43% speaking English as an additional language, Greenridge stands as a beacon of inclusivity and excellence.

The Gold Accreditation is not just a recognition; it is a testament to the school's dedication to developing and embedding children's rights across every facet of school life. The assessor found that children's rights are not just a concept at Greenridge; they are the foundation that underpins the school's strong culture of inclusivity and respect. Relationships based on mutual respect and trust are evident, and the positive impact on pupil behaviour is noticeable.

One of the standout features of Greenridge is the strong focus on equity and the deep understanding of its importance. Children confidently discussed a range of rights and their relevance to their lives. The school has successfully instilled in its students the principle of equity, creating a positive learning environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

A photo of three children from Green Ridge Academy playing.

A key aspect of the school's success is its unwavering commitment to the health and wellbeing of its students. Children expressed that they feel safe at school, and the support provided by the school contributes to their overall health. Greenridge not only educates but also nurtures the holistic development of its students.

At Greenridge, children see themselves as global citizens. The school fosters a sense of responsibility by engaging students in conversations linked to news and current events. Pupils are not only informed but are also encouraged and supported to make positive changes, turning their awareness into action.

The pupil community at Greenridge actively participates in decision-making in the school. A robust Pupil Parliament ensures that students have a voice in school improvement initiatives.

"Our teachers listen to our thoughts, and they try to make them come true," shared one pupil. The school has established various leadership positions, such as Head and Deputy Head Pupils, Eco Councillors, and Rights Champions, pupils students to contribute to positive changes across the school.

As we celebrate World Children's Day we applaud the outstanding achievements of Greenridge Primary Academy. Their Gold Accreditation as a Rights Respecting School is a testament to their commitment to creating an inclusive, respectful, and empowering learning environment for all students. Greenridge exemplifies the true spirit of World Children's Day by championing the rights of every child and preparing them to be thoughtful, responsible global citizens.