Grantham Journal Big Interview: ‘We want to give children the best start in life’
The David Ross Education Trust (DRET) has sponsored Charles Read Academy since 2013 and more recently Ingoldsby Primary Academy. The trust works with more than 30 primary and secondary academies in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the East of England. David Ross grew up in Lincolnshire. He was a founder of Carphone Warehouse and decided to set up an education trust to give children a broader education and more opportunities after that education. David Ross talks to the Journal about the trust.
The trust was founded in 2010. Are you pleased with the progress it has made over the years?
We are making significant steps. It is all very positive. Charles Read clearly was a school that was challenged and we stepped in. We believe in small rural schools and it has since had a ‘good’ Ofsted and it is going from strength to strength. The school is filling up and we are seriously thinking of expanding it and increasing the number of classrooms. We are very proud of the school. It is a rural school and it is very important part of the community. People love it. We will continue to strive to fill it and expand it. I saw Charles Read at the recent Winter Cup in Nottingham. They are loving life and have a wonderful sense of optimism. They were immaculately behaved and very polite and have a great outlook on life. Ingoldsby Academy is also on a good trajectory and has just had a ‘good’ Ofsted.
What is your ethos within the trust?
A core of school life is, of course, academic. It’s about increasing the opportunities after school so we must teach children to read and write and know the basics. But add to that my ethos that it is important that children come out of school with important life skills which they can learn through sports, drama, current affairs, visits outside of school etc, then these are opportunities that give them another view of the world. We want the children to have social self-confidence combined with a work ethic that means they will make a genuine contribution in life.
What inspired you to set up the trust in the first place?
At the very beginning I visited schools in the Grimsby area and I thought we can do a much better job, and we did do a much better job with our first school, the Havelock Academy. I was very lucky and had a positive education and came out of school having had a solid learning experience. I made great friends, played sport and enjoyed a lot of extra-curricular activities. But the schools I was visiting were not getting the same things. They weren’t singing songs or visiting museums and I thought there has to be a better way.
Do you think your trust has something different to offer from others?
I think we have a different philosophy. We offer a broader education and we are trying to drive a stronger academic programme but also inspire them to think in a more lateral way. I hope that every child in the DRET gets a broader education. I am not into big political ideas. This is not about a particular education system. There are some great free schools, great state schools and church controlled schools. I just want to be able to provide a good education for them. I want them to have a great start in life.