"Excitement comes from the achievement. Fulfillment comes from the journey that got you there." - Simon Sinek
Maritime was founded in September 2016 by our Chief Executive Nick Osborne.
Nick was a primary school teacher before eventually becoming Headteacher at Brooklands Primary School in Blackheath in 2011. Around that time, he was watching an episode of The Apprentice when he became frustrated with the approach one of the teams was taking to their project, and he grumbled about how kids could do it better. And then he thought – actually, yes, they could – and he set out to prove that by integrating a creative, Apprentice-style, cross-subject project into the curriculum, not only would progress and attainment accelerate, but the learning itself would be better retained by the children. And better yet - children would develop resilience and leadership skills as they set about solving real-world problems, and their confidence would skyrocket as they presented their work to parents at the end. His mentor told him at the time that 'you have 5 years in the job’ - because after 5 years everyone will have worked out that you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. So Nick thought ‘let’s do it then!'
This principle of creatively delivering the curriculum has been a proven success, and it’s been embraced and championed by the headteachers and teachers in our schools.
After Brooklands turned from Satisfactory to Outstanding, Nick was brought in as Executive Head over Millennium – and Millennium went from Requires Improvement to Outstanding is less than two years. Timbercroft then joined the group and rapidly turned around, and Nick is now a National Leader of Education. In 2016, all three of our primary schools significantly outperformed both Greenwich and national. The average nationally for reading/writing/maths combined expected was 53%, Greenwich 63% (5th in the country), and Maritime was 87% (with two of our schools at #1 & #2 in Greenwich), with our Pupil Premium children outperforming non-Pupil Premium nationally. National average for reading/writing/maths combined greater depth was 5%, Greenwich 10% and Maritime was 24%, with one of our schools #1 in Greenwich at 36%.
Getting Millennium to Outstanding was one of the highlights of Nick’s career for several reasons- he knew it wasn’t just a one-off that Brooklands had gotten there- he was on to something; he knew learning could be exciting and creative and still turn a school around – it didn’t have to just be rote teaching and memorisation; and he knew the collaborative practices developed between his schools and encouraged with the brilliant headteachers and staff had precipitated something truly exceptional- and what he had seen with the original three headteachers Carole Hornsby, Joanna Gledhill, and Debs Joyce was that a strong head having the support and confidence of an Executive Head working with them would really raise the bar for what was possible.
He also knew that there was no room to just take it easy after Ofsted (okay, maybe he slept in the next day), and he wanted to harness the momentum of outstanding in the most effective ways possible to both sustain outstanding practice in his schools and continue to share best practice with other schools who could benefit from the same power of collaboration to create amazing learning experiences for their children.
The question was how to best go about that, in terms of his own schools, other schools that needed help, and within the larger educational landscape – the phenomenal impact could change education for so many more children. He looked at different ways forward and eventually embarked on the process of creating what would become Maritime Academy Trust. What he envisioned was an organisation based on support, challenge, collaboration, trust and the opportunity to develop leadership, resilience, and confidence in everyone from the board to the children.
At Maritime we believe children can be leaders and entrepreneurs – and that when our students grow up and leave school and try to answer the age-old question of what to do next, they’ll have the gumption to start their own business, or put forward their own ideas at work, or take a chance on something they might otherwise think they are too young or inexperienced to try. Why? Because they’ll remember they were only in primary school when they rang up that sales company to negotiate a price, set out a marketing plan for their board game, designed and published their first book, gave a cooking lesson to a room full of strangers, or spoke as the keynote speaker at a child-produced education conference in front of a room full of hundreds of parents.
How do the projects work? The kids work in groups on separate segments of a project – from strategy to marketing to sales, etc. The learning goes across subjects, but not necessarily into every subject – that would kill the fun. Importantly, it is child-led – right down to the film editing on a documentary for instance.
Some projects are whole-school. For example, Nick was attending a conference a while back and was bored out of his mind with the presentations and thought kids could do better – and then of course realised they absolutely could. So then came the whole-school conference that was organised by Carole Hornsby and her brilliant team at Brooklands. Children designed the tote bags, notepads and pens. Each year group took a different topic – from the science of water rockets to story building to yoga to cooking, and then they did the research to put together presentations for parent workshops. Some kids became speakers on topics important to them. Some sang or played music for entertainment. Others managed the event on the day. Every last thing was child-produced. And it was a day that absolutely blew the parents and special guests away.
Does it work? The children love it. They take great pride in presenting the end result to their loved ones. They aren’t phased when something doesn’t work quite right – they keep on going. They are confident to take the lead – with their peers, with their parents, with guests who are total strangers. It’s fun. It’s memorable. And Maritime’s track record and results say it all.
Maritime is built on the firm belief that kids are capable of developing leadership and entrepreneurial skills that will build them up for their future, and that the best way to empower them with the self-belief to do so is through collaboration and innovation – always looking for different ways to do things. Every child can develop these skills in their own way- within the parameters of outstanding behaviour and a friendly atmosphere.
How does collaboration work in our schools? When you’re a part of Maritime, we are all interconnected. Yes, it’s about headteachers, SLT, phase leaders, and teachers working together to learn how their counterparts do things and approach different challenges- and yes that works and that’s how we’ve turned schools around. But it goes deeper than that – it’s about making sure staff are deployed efficiently across the Trust, it’s about helping each other to plug gaps whenever possible, it’s about thinking about how the Trust might help your school, and how your school can help the others in the Trust. Going it alone won't work – there is always something to learn from each other and a way to develop your school and your people while working to help another. A win for one of us is a win for all of us. And challenges are an opportunity for us to pull together and find a solution. No one is alone in this and we’re here for each other. Together we are Maritime.
Being part of Maritime means having opportunities to grow- within your role, within your school, and across the Trust. We want to grow our own leaders, and provide the opportunities in career development they need. And we want everyone to be able to develop their practice and keep finding ways of refreshing and reinvigorating it through development.
Our Chair is a National Leader of Governance who advocates that a fully strategic, forward-looking board can enable the head to be a better a leader through the right balance of support and challenge. We want governors to feel they are a part of the school transformation journey and that they are having a tangible impact. Otherwise, everyone's time is wasted. Governors can be a tremendous tool proactively enabling the headteacher to innovate and bring about the outcomes that everyone is aiming for. Too many heads view governors as a blocker, or a chore that needs sorting. And too many governors view a head as someone who's trying to pull a fast one and so nitpick in all the wrong things creating a fraught relationship. We want to break that pattern and make it about creating a supportive relationship that challenges with new ideas, insight and ways of thinking. We are reimagining what governance can look like, a project which will take time, but we hope will have enormous effect on school improvement.
At Maritime, the important thing is that heads, teachers, governors and kids have the confidence to give things a go – and know that failure is an opportunity to figure out a different approach, a way up. We want to empower schools with the means to drive ever greater and more enjoyable outcomes for their children. But we also want them to learn how to use our model and craft it to fit their schools - consistency of impact without conformity in approach. Collaboration leads to innovation which leads to sustainable impact – now and for years to come.
Want to find out more about the Maritime Mindset? Read some of the books that influenced our founding & ways of working:
Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential by Dr. Carol Dweck
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World by Adam Grant
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek