Listening and building partnerships

Ed Vainker of Reach Academy Feltham writes for the Public Leaders Report about their “cradle to career” approach. He explains how they put structure around collaborative relationships. This model was established before the pandemic and has remained strong during the crisis. It is a model other organisations could learn from.

Reach Academy Feltham opened as an all-through school in 2012 through the free school policy. The vision was creating a school, embedded in its community which enabled students to go on to lives of choice and opportunity. The school was judged outstanding in 2014 and in 2017 achieved excellent GCSE results with its first cohort. Of the founding cohort, 70% went on to University, compared to a 20% average in the area. 

At the same time, we have come to believe that a great school is necessary but not sufficient to ensure that more and more pupils can go to lives of choice and opportunities. As a result we have sought to create a cradle to career model in Feltham. This has included building partnerships that enable a more seamless journey through childhood for young people and their families – 130 families have been referred into our perinatal pipeline by midwives and health visitors in the last six months. 

We have come to believe that alongside the direct delivery strand of our work, there is also an opportunity to bring community and institutions together. Inspired by the Strive model in the States, we are building a collective impact partnership called the Feltham Convening Project which is trying to bring institutions and community members together to solve some of the most complex problems that are faced. 

As CEO, the key to this work has been balancing action and direct delivery with a focus on listening and building partnerships. The Collective Impact approach invites the building of strong partnerships between institutions and the community focused on the most difficult problems that the community faces. 

Ed Vainker, CEO, Reach Foundation


Read the full Public Leaders Report: Supporting the NHS in its hour of need · Collaborating places · Extraordinary resilience and service · What do we know about public sector leaders · Looking ahead to 2022