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The Ƶ is a local partnership of academies in North East Essex. Sigma was formally established in September 2016 and has grown to become the largest multi-academy trust working solely within Essex. The Trust has recently expanded to take on two additional primary schools and now consists of eight secondary schools, one primary and two junior schools.

The Ƶ now consists of over 11,000 pupils, approximately1600 staff and annual income of over £70 million and trains around 60 primary and secondary NQTs. The size of the Trust allows extensive joint working to take place and provides huge opportunities for staff and students alike. We have been able to build a wide range of secondment opportunities linked to staff development and can ensure students have equal curriculum entitlement regardless of the size of school that they attend. The approach taken within The Ƶ is unique in this area. There is no lead school, the Trust is built around the belief that best practice becomes shared practice and that every school can become a giver and receiver of support.

The five original secondary schools within The Ƶ all became academies in 2012 as part of the North East Essex Education Partnership (NEEEP). This was a company limited by guarantee and thus effectively operated as an umbrella trust. The partner schools therefore have a strong tradition of working collaboratively to achieve the best outcomes for all students in their academies.

Soon after NEEEP was created, there was a desire to extend the partnership to incorporate primary partners. Changes to academy rules meant that this was only possible by establishing separate multi-academy trusts. Two of the secondary schools formed a MAT with the two primary schools in 2014, and one of the other secondary schools became an approved sponsor in 2015. Later that year a decision was taken to simplify this model by creating one single multi-academy trust and, hence, The Ƶ was born.

All schools are geographically close enough to provide the necessary support and challenge to take all academies to the next level. We have a set of shared values and a common mission and vision that aims to ensure that no school is left behind.

In 2018, we were announced as the preferred sponsor for a new school which was to be built on the old Alderman Blaxill site. The new school, named Paxman Academy, opened in September 2019 and will eventually have 900 students on site. The new school was oversubscribed and provides a much needed boost to the Shrub End area of Colchester where it is based.

As part of the school’s ethos, there is a key focus on the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Strong links have been forged with MAN Diesel, the company that runs the old Paxman company factory in Colchester, with the Managing Director of MAN serving on the Local Governance Committee of the school. Older students from across the other Sigma secondary schools in Colchester will access the new academy for identified Key Stage 4 subjects, creating a collaborative approach that ensures that all students have an entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum that meets individual needs

In January 2019, Colne Community School and College and Philip Morant School and College were re-brokered into The Ƶ. New leadership was appointed in both schools and they are being rapidly turned around after facing a turbulent period. The creation of such a large group of secondary schools in close proximity to each other has provided significant opportunities for collaborative working, which is at the heart of our vision as a trust.

This expansion was followed in the same year with the re-brokering to Sigma of Alton Park Junior School and Holland Park Primary School in Clacton, from the Premier Learning Trust with support from the Learning Pathways Academy Trust (LPAT).